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Preparing for the Ten Tors Challenge

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Every year 2,400 young people from across south-west England take part in the Ten Tors challenge. This trek which takes place in early May sees participants aged between 14-19 compete to finish a route of up to 55 miles in length across Dartmoor in Devon.

The Ten Tors Challenge was first run in 1960 and is organised by the British army who use it as a large-scale logistic exercise. 400 teams of 6 members drawn mainly from local schools, colleges and scout groups train for months in advance of the gruelling Spring event. To take part in the Ten Tors challenge takes training, fitness, and perhaps most importantly teamwork.

There are twenty-six different routes for the challenge depending on the age of the team members;

  • 12 possible 35 mile routes for participants aged 14-15 years these are called Bronze routes
  • 10 possible 45 mile routes for participants who are 16-17 years of age these are Silver routes
  • 4 possible 55 mile routes for participants who are aged 18-19 years these are Gold routes

There are a total of nineteen tors used in the event because of the variety of possible routes that a team can take. Each team must navigate across the moor, ascend all of the ten tors on their chosen route and pass through the manned checkpoint there in order to successfully complete the event. The ten tors challenge is not a race as all those who successfully complete their route qualify for a medal.

Those hoping for a gold medal are allowed to camp overnight anywhere on the moor, the rest of the teams must stay at a manned checkpoint overnight.

Camping and trekking on the moor requires significant equipment, apart from the obvious needs such as a tent, cooking equipment, etc. many teams in the past of have found items likeresealable bags, dry bags, energy bars, and even foot & groin wipes to be essential parts of their kit.

Throughout the challenge each team is required to be entirely self-sufficient which is why they must carrying items like a field compass and first aid equipment, the challenge will test the survival skills of each team member as well as challenging them in the areas of navigation, camp administration, and related subjects.

Another factor which makes this challenge unpredictable is the weather on Dartmoor. Teams may find themselves camping in any conditions ranging from temperatures at hot as 26 degrees down to freezing temperatures and snowstorms.

It is because of the possible extreme and fast changing conditions that may be experienced on Dartmoor that it is important to be properly prepared before the challenge starts. A waterproof chart case may prove to be just as much a vital asset as a field compass or a head torch.

The teams for the Ten Tors challenge begin to arrive at the Okehampton camp start point a day or two before the beginning of the event. It is during this time that every team member has to undergo scrutineering. Scrutineering involves thoroughly checking the kit of each participant to ensure they have prepared properly for the event.

Scrutineers will be checking that teams will be carrying sufficient equipment. They will look for things like:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Cooking equipment
  • Fuel
  • Navigation aids
  • Clothing
  • Tents
  • Sleeping kit
  • First aid supplies

RV Ops have experience working with the scrutineers of the Ten Tors to make available suitable Ten Tors equipment which has proved to be most useful to those take part in the challenge.