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REYTA Finalist Just Beverley shortlisted nominee o2 community publication award 2017
Fan Dance

Fan-dancers are steadfast in prep for SAS test march

As the weather gets increasingly colder the days to the infamous SAS fan dance challenge draw nearer. Just Beverley caught up with ex-military man Mingus Menzies-Baird to discuss his and training partner Chris Gibson's progress as the date looms closer.

The challenge, set on the 20th January 2018  actually coincides with Mingus' 56th birthday, but far from typical birthday celebrations, Mingus and Chris will be trawling through the treacherous terrain of the Welsh Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons.

Mingus said the pair are having to adapt their training methods due to new demands the chilly conditions bring. "We are no longer taking breaks during walks as the wind chill it makes it all the more difficult to get going again and warm up once you've stopped – instead we are powering through the tiredness and keeping momentum."

The snow – reaching 4-6 inches in some of their favourite training spots is causing unforeseen difficulties – farmers plowing fields creates ruts which fill with icy cold water, Chris and Mingus have had to try jumping over these freezing furrows in order to prevent frozen feet. The snow also makes navigation near impossible, with snowfall making the landscape indiscernible leading to the duo walking astray and adding miles onto their routes. However Mingus is taking this as a positive as it is good preperation for any weather condition which may arise on the day. 

With temperatures plummeting Chris and Mingus are layering up with 2 thermals and a t shirt for extra padding, double-lined socks to prevent blisters and insoled, better quality boots for snug strolling. 

Because the pair are aiming to constantly be on the move, they have had to adapt how they carry nutritional supplies. They both now have a camel pack and store high protein foods (nuts, beef jerky, chicken and protein drinks) in their pockets for easy access which have to be consumed within the first hour of trecking for slow-release energy boosts.

In regards to training they are doing spin classes for cardio 4 times a week, walking 8-15 miles with weights once a week – maintaining training despite bad weather conditions. But Mingus recognises the need for rest periods also, telling us that he "doesn't want to over work as this could lead to injury."

Mingus told us that him and Chris "met at a slimming world group" and forged an unlikely friendship but one which has proved a greatly advantageous one as they spur each other on. They play to one anothers strengths and always go for a pint together after their walks as a well-deserved treat.

In the final stages of the run up to the big event Mingus said they are "nervous but I take that as a positive as it is maintaining our motivation. Watching youtube videos of others who have completed the challenge is really inspirational."

Anyone can enter the SAS fan dance but only the bravest and most dedicated can complete it – qualities Chris and Mingus certainly possess in abundance.

Currently completing the challenge an hour under the 6 hour time limit, things are looking very positive indeed on the last leg of preparation. Mingus will be filming the whole march on a head-mounted go pro so be such to catch the footage to see how they got on!

Hoping to raise £2.5k for armed forces charity SSAFA and with only 5 weeks to go they need your help, so donate anything you can to support the dynamic duo and give money to a worthy charity.

You can donate via their justgiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-menzies-baird1

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