Ten Tors 2022
After missing the last two years, the Ten Tors Challenge made a welcome return this year for its 60th event.
The Challenge is organised and run by the army each year and is the largest youth organised event in the country. Young people between 14-19 take part and complete self sufficient, self navigated walks across Dartmoor covering 35, 45 or 55 miles over two days.
Having not being able to train for two years has made it harder for this years challengers, with no previous students able to bring their experiences and act as role models for our current cohort.
This was all the more difficult for this years 45 mile challengers who were denied the opportunity to break themselves in with the 35mile Challenge first.
We began training in October and the students had to endure some very challenging conditions, as the training got harder, numbers dwindled and we were left with only those determined to do it.
Each year, in March, we hold our Dartmoor Challenge, an event run as close to the actual Ten Tors event as we can. We invite Bideford College to join us, creating a big event for the students to take part in. Participants plan their routes ahead of time then camp out on Friday night to prepare for the event, leaving early Saturday morning. They walk in their teams, carrying all their equipment, checkpointed along the way by staff from both schools. They wild camp on Saturday night before completing their routes and arriving to rapturous applause from friends and family at Bachelors Hall, our property on Dartmoor. The route lengths are just a little shorter than those they would be doing on Ten Tors, so the challenge is real. Students were pushed to their limits over the weekend, with emotions running high and many pushed close to giving up. But, none did! Every single Launceston student pushed on through the physical and mental pain and crossed that finish line hugely proud of their achievement.
After the event, our participant numbers dropped further, with some happy for having achieved the Dartmoor Challenge, but not wanting to continue further. This left us with a dilemma of too few students to fill our teams, so we would have to drop teams leaving some to sadly miss out. After discussions with Bideford, they were in the same boat, so we got together and combined the students we had to create more teams enabling more students to take part, this was made easier with a very last minute rule change allowing teams of five instead of the usual six. This meant that everyone who had completed the training up to that point had the opportunity to represent the Trust at the event.
On the 6th May, all our students met in the morning for some final checks and route planning before heading to Okehampton to our base camp. After a few administrative tasks and final, final checks everyone feasted on Pizza, before heading to sleep. At 5am Chariots of fire rang out across the camping fields and the waft of bacon quickly filled the air. Walkers prepared themselves, before walking up through the camp to the start line.
As it was the 60th event, participants were arranged in a giant ‘60’ to mark the occasion. They waited anxiously in the fog, listening for the field gun to sound their start.
All 2400 participants strode off together and staff returned to camp to follow them on their trackers and will them on.
We had students spread across four teams, two 35 mile and two 45 mile.
We waited and watched whilst the teams walked their routes, navigating themselves. As the day went on, the temperatures increased making walking conditions tough. The strong sun sapping their energy as they aimed to cover at least 20 or 30 miles on their first day. All teams did well, with both Dan’s 45 mile team and Jack’s 35 mile team reaching their 8 tor on day one, the furthest teams are allowed to progress. Our mixed teams found it heavier going, which was to be expected in teams formed at the late stage they were. Teams have to wake early to be ready to check into their first checkpoint at 0600. The 35 mile teams camped at their checkpoint would have woken at about 0430, the 45 mile teams, who have to camp away from the checkpoints would have had to wake themselves at about 3am to get themselves going!
By 10am, staff had cleared base camp down and headed to the finish line, joined by parents to cheer the teams across the finish line. We knew some of our teams were going to have a tough second day ahead of them.
Jack led our first team across the finish line just before 1130. We spotted them approaching the finish line, huge smiles across their faces (even through the grimaces!), especially when they learnt that they were the first Trust team across the line.
Our second team to finish was our 45 mile team led by Dan, his smile was contagious “I loved it, it was so much fun”, this was great to hear immediately after finishing, for most this is definitely a secondary thought with pain, and exhaustion being the primary feelings. The rest of the team were all happy too, explaining that day two was tougher than they thought it would be, after making such good progress on day one, but after a short siesta a few miles out from the finish, they all did it.
This team was shortly followed by Alice and Eleanor in our second 35 mile team, they both found it tough going, and hard walking with people they barely knew, but were both determined to cross that line. They kept each other going throughout and finished proudly.
We continued to wait at the finish line, anxiously waiting, and hoping we would shortly see our final 45 mile team in before the 1700 deadline. At 1630 we spotted their pink hats in the distance walking down the hill, a wave of relief passed over us as we watched them hobble towards the finish line, crossing just before 1645. The emotions ran high with the team, having pushed themselves with the deadline ever looming closer, past what they thought they could do in order to cross that line.
All 15 Launceston College students demonstrated great resilience throughout their training and all dug in deep when they needed to, to cross that line. They pulled together, supporting each other when they found it tough and ensured that no one was left behind and they would all finish as a team. As a staff team we are all extremely proud of their hard work and achievements and would love to see them return to train for the next distance.