Thousands take part in milestone Ten Tors event

Thursday 12th May 2022 3:12 pm
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Devoncourt High School For Boys Plymouth 35 mile first.
Devonport High School For Boys Plymouth 35 mile first. (Army comms )

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In glorious sunshine and after a two-year break, 2491 teenagers from across the South West of England took on the nation’s largest youth outdoor challenge, traversing the Dartmoor National Park and tackling The Ten Tors.

2022 celebrated the 60th staging of this activity and remains the nation’s largest outdoor event for young people in the UK, who are tested to their limits by trekking unaided over different 35, 45 or 55 mile routes.

They encountered some of the wildest landscapes and highest peaks in Southern England. They not only had to rely on teamwork and navigational skills but sheer grit and determination to succeed. The use of mobile phones or GPS was forbidden and no adult intervention was allowed however, safety was at the heart of the event and each team was equipped with a special tracker which was monitored in a military operations room manned 24 hours by service personnel and civilian staff. They could also alert the organisers if an emergency arose.

Although known as the ‘Ten Tors Challenge’, the event has another name and another purpose as it serves as the backdrop for Exercise WYVERN TOR, a high-level military resilience exercise led by the British Army’s Headquarters South West based in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

Director of Ten Tors, Colonel Gary Mcdade reflected on this year’s’ event: ‘What a fantastic challenge, over two and a half thousand young people have been out on the Moor blessed with good weather, undoubtedly the Ten Tors flame is very much alive.’

After the start of the main event, 300 youngsters with special physical or educational needs started the Jubilee Challenge. The teenagers - many in wheelchairs - entered either as teams or as individuals and completed routes of up to 15 miles; they were each accompanied by an Officer Cadet from Exeter University Officer Training Corps. This year saw a new aspect of this very special event with the trial of the Jubilee Plus Challenge, where a handful youngsters camped out overnight instead of completing their hike on the same day. Its success will be reviewed and could be introduced next year.

Captain Preet Chandi, who started the event, recently completed a solo expedition across Antarctica to the South Pole, in her speech to the challengers she said: ‘Ten Tors is fantastic; it was so great to see all those young people raring to go at the start line. I love seeing people outdoors and to see so many young people from so many different backgrounds is amazing.

At the start she said: ‘A lot of us don’t see the work that goes on behind the scenes, there is so much preparation and training to get to this point. So, I say well done for getting here! This is a huge part of the journey, this is the last leg and yes it will be challenging but remember what you did to get here, and that is important.

‘Look after yourself, look after your team as well, work as a team!’

In acknowledgement of the 60th anniversary Gryphon School from Sherborne in Dorset completed the challenge wearing clothing like that worn by the pioneers of the event in the early 60s. Edward Smith was one of the students involved: ‘We wanted to dress like this for the 60th Anniversary. Having done a few walks with it on we wanted to see if we could make it all the way around Dartmoor with this stuff on.’

Devonport High School For Boys, Plymouth were the first of the Ten Tors teams to cross the finish line taking ‘Bronze’ just before 8.30am on Sunday. They were greeted by whoops of delight and congratulations from the crowd as they were first past the post completing the 35-mile challenge.

Torquay Boys Grammar School took ‘Silver’ as the first finishers of the 45-mile route and Queen Elizabeth Hospital School, Bristol completed the 55 mile ‘Golden’ route in primary position.

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