Last Thursday, 5th July 2018, a team from Ambrose Recruitment comprising of Chris Rooum, Rory McStay, James Gibbs, Sam Bainbridge, Ed Dixon and Ashley Jennings travelled to the Brecon Beacons to compete in the UK Challenge. With competition coming from experienced teams from the likes of Airbus, CGI and T-Systems along with a team containing 4 time Olympic medallist Rebecca Adlington, it was a real step into the unknown. All the team knew was that over the next 72 hours they would be tested mentally, physically and emotionally.
For this challenge, the team had to split into two and run for 90 minutes through the park next to the castle travelling to different points in a specified order, having to check in correctly at each. This was under the guise of football matches and league tables with the task of moving from League 1 through the Championship and into the Premier League. Unfortunately due to a mix up at the first check in point we didn’t do as well as we probably should have and only managed to move into the Championship however a solid cup run ensured that the team secured a decent amount of points.
This challenge, saw the team splitting with Rory and James taking part in a series of physical challenges (Archery, reaction skills, and accurate ball throwing), Sam and Ashley puzzle solving, Chris having to match sides on a specially created rubiks cube to interior features within the castle and Ed information gathering for the main puzzles kept in the keep. Somehow we managed to solve all 8 of the main puzzles to ensure a reasonably heathly start before returning to our beds at around 0200!
We woke to the good news that we were in 37th place (out of 74) and that helped with the general tiredness of only 3 hours sleep before heading into the Brecons for our first challenge of the day. Sam, James, Rory and Ed spent 2.5 hours on Kayaks heading to specific locations on a lake at set times to ensure none of the villages flooded. This task required a strong strategy and unfortunately ours wasn’t particularly good!
The main challenge of the day saw the team having to reach a number of locations on foot and on bike in a 5 hour time period. Chris and James raced up to the highest peak Pen Y Fan before running back time and climbing up another ridge, they then jumped on their bikes for a gruelling hours ride. Sam and Ed headed up the next two highest peaks (Cribyn and Fan y Big) whilst Rory and Ash spent time racing around on their Mountain Bikes before Kayaking across another lake. Suffice to say everyone was quite tired by this point!
The team then headed to the University sports complex where they were set the task of building a catapult using basic supplies, the team created a masterpiece following Rory and Sam’s design idea and we managed a very respectable result beating teams from Airbus and the RAF. After this challenge the team headed back to their room for another late finish.
The first challenge of the last day saw James, Chris, Rory and Ash running through fields of stinging nettles for two hours attempting to be at the right place at the right time. This was another tough challenge but the teams strategy was better than others.
For the penultimate challenge, Chris took the role of a CEO, with Sam as his PA, and was given the task of increasing profits by investing in stocks and shares, whilst the rest of the team provided currency by solving puzzles and running up hills.
The last challenge was final physical and mental challenge, Ash, Rory, James and Chris headed out on their Mountain Bikes and had to solve two puzzles whilst initially head up a steep mountain. However, what comes up must come down and one of the highlights of the whole challenge was flying down a trail! After being on the bikes for around 12km the team dropped the bikes of along with Ash who substituted out for Sam for the 8km run. We again successfully solved the last two puzzles (the last of which only 5 teams in the whole competition managed) before picking up Ash and Ed for the final sprint to the finish line.
Once back, the team celebrated into the evening and found that they had finished 50th – not bad for a first attempt. Next year the Challenge travels to Snowdonia and the team are hoping to give it another go.
On reflection the team felt that the amount of mental and physical toughness required to complete the challenge was immense. Running / riding up the Brecon’s in this heat was very demanding. What most impressed with the comradery amongst everyone, we all rallied together to make sure we competed well against some really tough teams who had completed selection processes for entry. It was a great weekend, lack of sleep and the boiling heat made things harder but we had a really good time and really appreciated the opportunity. We managed to beat the RAF and teams who have competed multiple times before so everyone can be very proud. It’s a weekend we will not forget in a hurry!