The GORE-TEX® Experience Tour Fan Dance Challenge is one of a series of projects designed by Gore to give outdoors folks the chance to take part in money-can’t-buy experiences. Derbyshire-based pilot, Stephen Smith is one of 10 winners who will be heading to South Wales in the first week of September to attempt the infamous Fan Dance and he kindly agreed to tell us a bit about how he's approaching a daunting challenge. You read Stephen's own blog at smithschallenge2012.wordpress.com.
We're hoping he'll come back and tell us how he went in a week or so's time. Good luck!
Yesterday was the first real test for my new Berghaus Velum GORE-TEX® jacket while walking the streets of grey and wet Copenhagen. I couldn’t help but imagine how different the scenery will be in a weeks’ time down in south Wales though and just how quickly the last six weeks have passed since we all received our training plans in preparation for the challenge ahead.
In less than a week now, I and nine other likeminded individuals from across Europe will set off and meet in South Wales; Our challenge – to attempt “The Fan Dance”. A fitness and navigation skill test as used by British Special Forces involving a 23.5km (14.6miles) trail run through the Brecon Beacons, reaching a summit elevation of 886m (2906ft) at the peak of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales.
Tough Enough For The SAS?
Our aim is to complete this – as a team – in less than four hours; the same time limit as given to recruits for SAS selection.
Like everything in life I suppose, these things have a way of creeping up on us quickly… We’re all guilty of it, putting off training runs or a session in the gym when before you know it, a week has past… I just hope what I have done in the run up to the challenge has been enough.
For me, the GORE-TEX® Experience Tour ticked all the right boxes! The Fan Dance is a genuinely tough, exciting and rewarding challenge that none of us are guaranteed to complete within the allotted time. This is the challenge after all.
I remember reading once that “if you already know you can complete a challenge, it’s too easy” and this, I think, sums up the challenge nicely. It’s also challenge number four for me in 2012. I set myself the task of completing a series of challenges to raise money and awareness for Children with Cancer UK (smithschallenge2012.wordpress.com).
Ranging from kayaking the River Wye in an inflatable, a Toughmudder obstacle race, a marathon and this - naming but a few! The challenges need to be tough, I want to be tested and know I can only succeed by giving everything.
I am training hard, both outdoors; from trail running up in the Arctic in Greenland to back home in the Peak District with work in the gym too. I have never been in better shape or felt better! These challenges will all test me, some to the limit and the Fan Dance will be, I’m certain, no exception!
The GORE-TEX® Experience Tour weekend is not only about the Fan Dance challenge itself though. Winning a place on the tour also means we get to spend time in the run up to challenge day with British Military Mountain leaders, learning skills on navigation and survival techniques. Plenty of team activities, river crossing exercises (speedos packed!!) and I am confident along the way we will all have a good laugh too.
We’ve all been issued with amazing kit as well and have been lucky enough to receive this prior to our meeting in Wales. I can honestly say it has surpassed my expectations and I doubt I would go back to anything else other than Gore-Tex now.
The Active Shell fabric was especially impressive and although it wasn’t raining during exercise, it was still extremely muggy and warm but the shell kept from condensing up on the inside, a problem I was commonly experiencing with my normal running/cycling shell! A great bit of kit and extremely light too!
So with less than a week to go now I’m genuinely excited but at the same time a little nervous for the weekend ahead! As I sit here in a handling agent’s waiting room in Malmo, Sweden wondering where in Scandinavia I might be tomorrow, I suspect this weekend will come up very quick indeed! I just only hope I can find enough carbs to load up on along the way and maybe fit in a sneaky training run across what is a very flat country! Gulp.