© Image supplied with kind permission of Guy Boden. www.guyboden.com
Mountain Fuel were delighted to be the nutrition partner for the Winter Fan Dance race in January 2016. With Team Mountain Fuel athletes taking the top spots in the clean and loaded categories it proved to be a fantastic weekend with rain and snow storms demonstrating that this really is an eipc and fun challenge.
Situated in the Brecon Beacons over a 24 km mountainous route that starts at the iconic old red phone box the race goes straight up to the summit checkpoint of Pen Y Fan and, after descending ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, continues along an undulating stone vehicle track (the ‘Roman Road’) to the second checkpoint which also serves as a tea stop and turnaround point. Then, taking the route in reverse, racers climb back up “The Fan” via Jacob’s ladder and pass through the summit checkpoint a second time before legging their way back down to the finish at the old red phone box.
The route is a real lung buster that throws everything at you, including the elements. There are steady slopes that allow a solid jogging pace, shocking inclines that have you almost on your hands and knees, loose stone tracks that require cautious foot placements and a forested vehicle track that allows for some rapid going. Even SAS recruits at the height of their physical abilities regard beating the clock in this event as a serious challenge, and all know its capacity to hurt. Aside from the race aspect of this event, just getting to the end is an accomplishment and something to be proud of. The Fan Dance is open to ANYONE looking for a unique challenge: be it personal, competitive, as a sponsored participant in aid of your favourite charity or as part of a team building exercise. As per real Special Forces Selection, the event will be staged in both summer and winter (both load-bearing and clean fatigue).
BACKGROUND: SPECIAL FORCES TEST MARCHES
Each test march is essentially a TAB (Tactical Advance to Battle). In the Special Forces context the exercise replicates advancing in small teams from the point of strategic insertion towards the theatre of operations while remaining undetected. By definition the main part of the mission commences once the TAB has been completed. The ability to TAB is essential to SAS/SBS soldiers and other elite military units such as the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marine Commandos who are required to cover large distances at speed over arduous terrain while being completely self-sustained (carrying extremely heavy loads made up of essential personal equipment, weaponry and ammunition supplies, radio communication devices, survival provisions and food and water). If an SAS Trooper or SBS Marine is unable through injury, poor personal administration or lack of fitness to be operationally effective and fulfil his role, he will become a liability and have put others’ lives in jeopardy. The ability to TAB, is therefore the bread and butter of the Special Forces soldier.
The nuts and bolts of the Fan Dance are so simple. Carry all you need over a certain distance. No man made obstacles or tricks, just man against nature. But simple does not mean easy. Simple can also be primeval, brutal… all the mental & physical excess swept away by necessity. What is left? The stark beauty of such an experience has to be tasted first-hand.
The FAN Dance can be ran/walked ‘clean’ as in with no weighted pack or as a load bearing challenge, either way this is a bucket list race.