John Castle (Batman)

A super-heroic gesture

A Scottish soldier raises funds for bombing victims by bringing levity to a serious cause

On May 19, a Scottish reservist deployed in Afghanistan donned a well-muscled Batman suit and ran a half-marathon to raise money for the victims of the April 15 Boston Marathon bomb attacks—including $314 for the scholarship fund established to honor BU student Lu Lingzi (GRS’14), who was killed in the bombings.

Battling Afghan temperatures reaching nearly 100˚ Fahrenheit, Staff Sergeant John Castle, 45, of Dundee, raced alongside U.S. Marines at Camp Leatherneck, in Helmand Province. Though the full-body costume “got a wee bit hot around the chest area,” Castle came in well ahead of the main field, with a time of 2 hours 16 minutes—an especially impressive time given that the course was mistakenly laid out for 16.2 miles, instead of the standard 13.1.

Castle, who is currently serving a six-month tour, is the Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant for the small contingent of British servicemen attached to the USMC headquarters in Camp Leatherneck, responsible for their accommodation, food, vehicles, and equipment.

The Batman suit was sent out by my wife, who thinks I have lost the plot and did not ask why.” —John Castle

Castle requested special permission to run in costume—outlandish clothing is usually prohibited—to pique the interest of sponsors. “I thought it would be a great idea to raise funds, and the dafter the better,” he said. “The Batman suit was sent out by my wife, who thinks I have lost the plot and did not ask why.”

Castle joins more than 1,250 donors from around the world who have collectively contributed upward of $1 million to the Lu Lingzi fund. “The outpouring of generosity around this scholarship has been incredible and humbling,” says Scott Nichols, BU’s senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “Talk about going the extra mile. This gentleman went the extra 16 miles—in the desert, wearing what amounts to long johns, a mask, and a cape—to honor Lingzi’s memory by helping us provide aid for future students in her name. We smile at the means of the gift, but we’re also touched and grateful.”

Castle plans to put his super suit back on to run the 2014 London Marathon. He was “chuffed to bits,” he said, to contribute to the recovery of the Marathon bombing victims and their families. “It’s easy for me—I just had to keep running,” he said. “It won’t be that easy for them.”