What is it? Well it certainly isn’t a long piece of tape to be hung around the neck. It is in fact a grueling endurance march across a nightmare of rolling hills and deep valleys. This year being run by 22 Signal Regiment based up in MOD Stafford.
It is an undertaking that is one of the most challenging events that anyone in the Royal Signals can expect to face without going onto more specialist units like the Paras. The one day competition involves teams of eight, each carrying forty lbs, navigating between checkpoints, attempting to complete the forty miles as quickly as possible, even finishing at all is a prospect that most people have upper most in their minds!
The first training weekend kicked off with the teams in high spirits, the weather was glorious on the South Downs and we reveled in the new challenge. The focus was primarily navigation skills and we covered about ten miles on the first day. A success in itself, as most of us had only ever been as far as the eight miles required for a Combat Fitness Test.
Leading the A team was last year’s winner, Lt Kong who was well supported by DS who had been on the winning team last year. The presence of this level of experience built our confidence as they took us through the skills of navigation and personal administration and I will never again underestimate the importance of comfortable feet or a well packed Bergen.
As the training weekends progressed, so did the distance and the range of challenges faced by the teams. As we aimed to keep spirits high whilst dealing with hot temperatures, blistered feet and the inevitable rookie mistakes of getting lost. This was also when we learnt the most importance factor which could make or break a team… Banter. An essential element in our arsenal, everything from one line jokes to quoting from comedy shows. The truth about the competition was that it would be tough and we would need everything at our disposal to complete it.
More recently the group have split into their respective Regimental teams, the A Team being led by Lt Kong from Eastbourne who are out to defend their TA title again this year having beat 63(SAS) Signal Squadron (Reserve) last year. The B Team being lead by Lt Craster from Windsor and Female Team by 2Lt O’Regan again from Windsor. During the training, we’ve now reached thirty miles and all teams have the competition day firmly in their sights. Good luck to everyone for the 22nd of September in Stafford!