Fan-Dancers do it all again.

Tue 26th June 2018
Mingus 2

The infamous SAS fan dance challenge in the winter wasn't testing enough for ex-military man Mingus Menzies-Baird and his training partner Chris Gibson, they decided to do it again, In the scorching heat.

The challenge was to trawl through the treacherous terrain of the Welsh Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons in the heat of summer.

Mingus said the pair are had to adapt their training methods due to new demands the hot sunny conditions bring, making sure they have plenty of water to keep them hydrated. 

Being constantly 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.

Mingus's log on the day..

Both Chris Gibson and I set off for our night before B and B in the Brecon Beacons full of trepidation.  We were up at 5am, had a breakfast and made our way at 5:45am to the car park at registration.  

We set off at around 9am in heat touch 20c, to say it was the hardest thing I’d ever taken part in is an understatement.   This event is the pre-selection course all UK SAS and special forces have to do before they even move on to selection, fail this you off.  The event organisers are ex special forces and the organisation and Safety aspects are second to none.  

We all went to the start 200 competitors, the free runners go first with just 3 litres of water, followed by the loadstoners who carry in excess of 45lb plus water and food and they carry a sawn short scaffold pole filled with concrete to mimic a gun, there were only 5 of those lunatics.  The rest including the myself, over 50’s carry 25lb plus water and food which takes it to beyond 30lb along with those under 50 who carry 35lb plus water and food all set off together.  

The climb starts at the Storey Arms and it’s on a 20 degree climb which never seems to stop.  The first of the two major climbs is up Pen Y fan (hence the fan dance).  There are very few that can make it up without a breather to try and pick your lungs and legs up ‘ouch’.  In fact The two major climbs were extreme, the heat got to 23c even 886m which made it far harder,  having said that because I know I’ve done it before (January 2018 at -10 - oh and I fell broke 3 ribs and a finger on that event) I went out of my way to compete so when I could I ran down and on the flat, well sort of flat surfaces.   There are 6 checkpoints the 3rd checkpoint has to be reached in 2 hours 45.  It’s only 7 miles so easy lol ‘not’ - I knew I did the winter 3rd Rendevouz in 2 hours and 31.  I got to it this time  2 hours and 7 so I was tired.  

The Staff check you all out individually to make sure your well, some, quite a lot never made it back to get a medal as they were pulled, I took on some juice and turned and set off back whilst some sat down to rest including this amazing young woman (I called pink socks - you’ll guess why) who had an amazing engine whom I just caught up on a few occasions.  I decided to put my headphones on, they lasted 10 Mins as they distracted me terribly.  I made good progress back until the infamous Jacobs Ladder which killed 3 reservist SAS men a few years ago in the same searing heat.  That is so difficult to describe it’s just walk, stop, walk, walk, stop take on water and many breathes.  There is many a competitor that gives up there or is pulled.  Quite a few suffered heat stroke and were pulled too.

I met many competitors at points on the flat when you had energy to speak whom I passed and they passed me tooing and frowing throughout.  On the last 1/2 mile down I passed one such male I looked back and we had had good banter out so I asked him to catch up.  Let him get his breath and I said we needed to jog in was he up for that, he was so off we went.

A 100 metres from the finish that damn pink socks shouted ha har there you are I’ve had you in my target for quite sometime. We laughed I said I wasn’t going to let her pass and did the Dad thing were you put your arms out to stop your children passing you  but when she said she’ll kick me out of they way I decided I give her the finish ha ha.  

The chap I had asked to keep with me decided we  cross the finish together.  Pink socks clapped us in too along with Rusty Firman and Jason Bowen ex Sas and DS congratulated us.  I stopped my iwatch and I did it in 4:47 winters was 5:51. so not as I said on my FB video 54 Mins but actually my arithmetic was out I beat it by 1 hour 4 Mins.  I knew I had trained hard but I was and am delighted  with that time and got very close to the medal winners for my masters category.

I’ll take that, oh boy my  [😆] lower back, quads and body are in tatters but I’m certainly gripped by it so maybe winter NO maybe next summer YES ☹️ [😛] .

Chris Gibson managed to complete the challenge and beat his winter time as well, both are looking to do better in 2019!!



Just Beverley