Ten Tors 2024

Ten Tors 2024

Written by Mr Worsfold, D&T Teacher/Outdoor Education Co-ordinator

FRIDAY:
We left school on Friday at 1300 for Dartmoor after some last minute route planning and packing.
Once the students had settled into camp and we had registered the teams we cooked dinner. This consisted of the traditional Ten Tors meal ‘Spag Bol’. The teams had hearty portions to carb load in preparation for the challenge that lay ahead.
The students were then able to drink in the festival atmosphere, Rhys went off to interview people for his famous TikTok account, hoping to also find Ray Mears who is legend of survival skills and predecessor to Bear Grylls.
The rest of the staff then joined us for some grown up food and to help prepare the teams for the morning.
I then had the pleasure of bumping into Ray Mears, who is definitely one of my heroes. Not only was he happy to talk, I even managed to get some photos of me looking pretty star struck! They say never meet your heroes but I am glad that I met one of mine.
At about 2200 we settled down for the night, the students were excited and nervous but all were asleep pretty quickly.
None of us saw the Northern Lights!
SATURDAY:
The rousing sound of ‘Chariots of Fire’ at 0500 is the alam call of Ten Tors. Once up, the students had a breakfast of porridge, bacon and egg baps and some fruit juice.
We then took some photos and headed off to the start. This year the skies were clear and we were treated to a parachute display from the Red Devils.
My new friend Ray Mears gave an inspirational speech, then at precisely 0700 the cannon fired to mark the start of Ten Tors 2024.
Once the teams were off the waiting game started. We mooched back to our base camp to wait and watch for updates from the tracker. We said goodbye to the amazing reserves who helped to pack up some tents and generally muck in.
Around 1100 we were asked to go up to the fall out centre to collect one of our students from the B team who was unable to continue. This had slowed them down a bit as they had to wait for her to be evacuated off the Moor. However they were able to continue and ploughed on once they could.
We continued to monitor the progress of both teams. At one stage in the afternoon we were concerned the B team had drastically slowed. Being at the Okehampton Army Camp enabled us to see actual GPS locations, we were able to see the B team had missed a checkpoint and were having to go back on themselves to correct it.
By 2030 both teams had seemingly settled down for the night. By now numerous individuals and whole teams had crashed out, mainly due to the heat from the day. There is literally no shade on Dartmoor and this had a devastating effect on some of the young people out in the open, walking for the whole day.
Sadly for the B team it was the same for them. Another member of their team had been evacuated from the moor, actually from their campsite with what appeared to be heat stroke. She was monitored for a couple of hours by the St Johns Ambulance in the fall out centre. They contacted me by banging on the tent at 2300, a slightly stressful way to be woken up! Craig and I went to pick her up and then waited for her parents to collect her at about 0100. The first thing she said to us was that she had been for a ride in a helicopter, beaming from ear to ear.
Team B had a really tough day, everything that could have gone wrong did but they still had 4 team members, meaning they could finish, even if it was all stacked up against them.

SUNDAY:

We woke on camp at a round 0700 and checked the trackers to see how the teams were getting on. Competitors are allowed to start walking at 0600 and it appeared both teams had done this.

We continued to monitor both teams, the A team came in at 1230, parents in tears, students in tears and a feeling of pride all round. They had done brilliantly, navigating well and working hard as a team in the heat.
We handed them back to the care of their parents and had to continue to monitor the B team, hoping they were going to keep making it to each checkpoint in time.
Teams and individuals were still dropping like flies, the heat was still pumping, a RAF pilot even came down with heat stroke, meaning all helicopters were grounded for a couple of hours.
We continued to wait. Then it happened, the B team had stopped walking.
For us it was panic, what had happened? Was someone injured? As it transpired, they had realised they were not going to make their next checkpoint. They had given it everything but simply ran out of time, only by about 15 minutes. However, instead of being deflated, they sat down and had a nice picnic lunch on the top of a hill, relaxed, drinking in the scenery and contemplating their demise. As Rhys put it, ‘Sir, I’ve been through the five stages of grief.’
We waited for them at the fall out centre once we knew they were all ok and awaiting extraction from the moor. Minibus loads of teams and individuals were still arriving, then the four remaining Park students arrived. Not by minibus, they had been flown off in a Merlin helicopter. Smiling at us in the face of their adversity. They were understandably gutted, they had been through the mill but come out of the other side. Probably stronger.
Some will look at this as a failure, they didn’t complete the challenge. I think differently. They had a different challenge, one that was totally theirs, they had it harder than other teams and didn’t give up. When they were down to four on Saturday night it would have been easy for them to roll over and quit, but they didn’t. They showed spirit, maturity and resilience beyond their years. This should be celebrated in the same way as the team who completed their challenge.
Ten Tors is so much more than the event, it is the journey they have been on since September. They have formed friendships, learnt things about themselves they didn’t know existed and grown throughout the process as individuals. They have developed skills for life, teamwork, navigation, resilience, first aid and how to ride in a helicopter for some!
This is the reason the staff including myself are so ready to give up our time to facilitate it.
OTHER PARK STUDENTS:
There are also some other Park students (Past and present) who need some recognition for completing their own Ten tors challenges.
Kevin Goelzer Gomez 35 miles with Kingsley School
Jamie Scofield 35 miles with Air Cadets
Oli McRae 35 miles with Saunton Surf lifesaving club
Georgina Knight-Waller and Lily Etheridge 35 miles with Taw Explorers
Emily Sharples and Fergus Rostock 55 Miles with Sea Moor Explorers
Ruben Mogge 55 miles with Exeter College