Jumping out of his comfort zone

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Julia Whitwell (author), LCDR Martin Lee (photographer)

Location(s): Adelaide, SA

Topic(s): Skydiving

Warrant Officer Mark Hollingsworth skydiving from 15,000 feet. (photo: LCDR Martin Lee)
Warrant Officer Mark Hollingsworth skydiving from 15,000 feet.

He won the Adelaide Marathon but lost a bet. As a result, Warrant Officer Mark Hollingsworth had to jump out of a plane.

A bet wagered against his colleague and avid skydiver, Lieutenant Commander Martin Lee, involved a trade of sports; if Lieutenant Commander Lee completed the Adelaide Marathon, Warrant Officer Hollingsworth would have to take a 15,000-foot skydive.

Warrant Officer Hollingsworth said, for a marathon runner, the hardest part of the tandem dive was handing control over to someone else.

“When you’re up there and they open the door, with the wind rushing in, it starts to hit home,” Warrant Officer Hollingsworth said.

“The hardest part is that you’re totally relying on someone else. If it was just me sitting on the edge, I don’t know if I would have gone.”

Lieutenant Commander Lee said Warrant Officer Hollingsworth was certainly nervous.

“I’m sure he thought there was only about five per cent chance I was actually going to do it,” Lieutenant Commander Lee said.

“He was nervous in the plane which, after all, was why I ran for so many hours!

“All in all, I think he got the better end of the deal, for sure.”

Warrant Officer Hollingsworth said the marathon race was held under COVID-safe restrictions, where three runners started every 10 seconds, spaced 1.5m apart. 

“It was a trickle start based on the time people anticipated they would run, so it felt like a time trial,” he said.

“It’s better for your motivation when you can chase someone down, but I wasn’t running with anyone for the entire race.”

Warrant Officer Hollingsworth aimed for a time under two and a half hours.

“It’s a pretty difficult course - it’s hilly and there are a lot of 180-degree turns so you have to slow down and accelerate out. It’s not ideal if you’re chasing a quick time,” he said.

Tearing across the finish line, Warrant Officer Hollingsworth recorded a personal best of two hours, 31 minutes.

“A few friends were at the finish line, but there was no presentation because of the COVID-safe plan,” he said. 

“I went into the club office a week later and they handed me a trophy.”

Warrant Officer Hollingsworth now has his sights set on the Berlin Marathon, delayed because of COVID-19.

“It’s a much flatter course, so when restrictions lift I’ll head over with the aim to crack that two hours, 30,” he said.

Warrant Officer Hollingsworth and Lieutenant Commander Lee’s participation in the Adelaide Marathon was sponsored by the ADF Running and Athletics Association.