06. September, 2012

The GORE-TEX Experience Tour Fan Dance Challenge – When the going gets tough, the tough get going

When our ‘recruits’ arrived in South Wales for the GORE-TEX Experience Tour nothing could have prepared them for the mental and physical journey ahead.  Luckily our military experts knew exactly what skills they needed to learn in order to tackle the final challenge – completing the infamous Fan Dance in under 4 hours.

Over the course of two days, our 10 lucky winners were equipped with a vast range of skills that would not only help them navigate their way across the 23.5km Fan Dance route, but also enable them to survive in the wild.  From building fires, to collecting water and catching and cooking dinner, our experts shared their own knowledge and experience in the field. 

Navigation was high on the agenda and put into practice with a military-style night time navigation task that took the winners on an 8km route through the Brecon Beacons.  Equipped with extremely breathable GORE-TEX Active Shell jackets, GORE-TEX trousers and walking shoes all courtesy of Berghaus, the Welsh weather didn’t pose a problem. 

As our 10 winners stepped up to the start line at the base of Pen y Fan on Tuesday morning, the physical, mental and practical preparation had clearly paid off.  For many this was the first time that they had used maps to charter their route and for our Latvian winner, Jaroslav, the challenge was heightened by the fact he had never encountered hills of this size before! 

At the half way point only a few minutes separated our leading group – Rachel, Sarah, Steve and Barry from Clive and Jaroslav.  James’s speed was hampered by an ankle strain which meant Carolyne was pulling ahead.  Lindsay was keeping a good pace in the company of British Military Fitness expert Pete, but Brendon was nowhere in sight!  Eventually we discovered that he had made a ‘detour’ adding an extra 5km onto the gruelling route.

The aim was to complete the route in under 4 hours, which is the time set for recruits to finish in.  Amazingly 5 of our winners came in in under 3 hours with Rachel and Steve leading the way.  Just 6 minutes later Barry, Clive and Sarah raced to cross the line, with Barry piping them to the post by 15 seconds!  Jaroslav came in next, followed by Carolyne and then James.  Lindsay’s route to the finish line was not the conventional one, but she covered exactly the same distance in under 4 hours. 

As the minutes counted down, our 9 winners and support team anxiously waited at the foot of the hill to see Brendon appear over the brow.  Despite a valiant effort that saw him compete the second half of the race in under 1 hour 45 minutes, his detour had sadly taken its toll on his final time.

The final times were:
• 2:53:27: Rachel & Steve
• 2:59:40: Barry
• 2:59:55: Clive & Sarah
• 3:14:54: Jaroslav
• 3:25:23: Carolyne
• 3:40:24: James
• 3:43:52: Lindsay
• 4:15:22: Brendon

We are delighted to congratulate our winners on their fantastic achievement.  The knowledge that they have gained from this GORE-TEX Experience Tour will undoubtedly last a lifetime!

Read an article from OutdoorsMagic about the Fan Dance Challenge here.