Remember When: Avis and Cope Running Endless Circles (circa fall 1975)

Article by 12149 Peter Avis – Class of 1979

The Class of 79 had started their recruit camp experience in late-August of 1975 – lunch was at the Cadet Mess, a kilometer march each way every mealtime.  Fort Henry flight jogs were de rigeur at 5:30 every morning!  Once the varsity teams had started up, rugby was a mental escape!  But not a physical one!

Some guys caught on to the drill, the boot-polishing, the uniform-pressing, and the bed-making very quickly.  Pete Avis had Booner for a room-mate – unusual matching – Booner figured out quickly how to avoid circles (he slept on top of his pit and sang Dylan songs to go to sleep).  Not so Animal (Avis). While the six squadron rooks were feasting on toast and kye, Animal would be out EVERY night at 10 o’clock with eight (the maximum) circles – on weary feet.  Over in eight squadron, Rick Cope (Copey), who was also on the varsity rugby team (Larry Baba was his room mate), and, alas, was also prone to attracting Beastie’s circles, would join Animal in the diminishing circle-runners society.  Two miles before bed every night for two months….

Well, one night Animal and Copey were in the middle of the pack, turning the first corner of the track on the inner sports field.  They had noticed (after repeated experience) that while the parade square end of the track was well-lit, the far end by the Martello Tower was very poorly illuminated – in fact, it was pitch dark.  Being the clever, enterprising, young cadets that they were, our rugby miscreants decided that sitting out several rounds of the circle set would be a reasonable way to level exercise in a busy day.

Sliding out of the 20-person pack on the dark side was a challenge – but one well met! Animal and Copey snuck out quietly and hid behind the birch trees near the fort.  The pack did three or four rounds, and then the bad boys re-joined.  The fourth years in charge didn’t seem to notice or care.  Everyone was happy.  The miscreants giggled happily in the dark at their superior intellect and cunning.

Later in September, as the pack was thinning, our heroes were relaxing in the cool breeze and darkness of the fort’s shadow during circles 3 to 6, when they heard a rustling behind them. It couldn’t be anyone – the plot had been faultless up to this point.

A light flashed on to them – and then back to the source – Mr. Uchiyama in FULL SCARLETS with his sword drawn.  Gulp.  The Cadet Wing Training Officer (four bars and mandated with discipline in the Wing) glowered at our poor misguided fellows and hissed, “Avis.  Cope. You will be running circles for the rest of your lives. Get your sorry asses back in the pack!”

Sigh. It was a fact that Avis and Cope came second and third for overall accumulated circles in the recruit class that year.  Was it worth it?  Bien oui!


  • Lionel Boxer

    January 14, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    Great article Pete. We did the same thing in 1976. In 1977 Rick was one of the “McKenzie 21” (“they can’t charge us all”, but they did.) So, we were back out there doing endless circles for 10 days (I think.) Somewhere I have an RMC RFC tie.

  • Greg Lamarre

    January 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Great article. I didn’t realize that the practice went back as far as ’75. I and some of my other misguided rooks also deeked out on early morning circles (same spot as in photo above) as recruits in ’88. The trick was when to re-join; too early and lost opportunity to “levelize energy output”; too late and you might be caught doubling the number of runners left. It was a tricky affair and not for the faint of heart.

    Greg Lamarre, Class of 92