Cormac Oliver, 17, from Blundell’s School in Tiverton is just one of several local youngsters embarking upon the gruelling Ten Tors challenge, the British Army’s annual weekend hike for 2,400 young people. In fact, it’s Cormac’s second time. So we asked him to share his experiences and tips…


Why did you sign up for the Ten Tors the first time?

I’ve always had an interest in outdoor pursuits, mainly due to my father being in the Marines, and so was exposed to that sort of thing from quite a young age. Also I enjoy being out with my friends and exploring new remote places.


What had you anticipated, and was it what you expected?

I had been told it would be hard and I found the event harder than I expected; however, I feel I’ve learnt a lot from the 35-miler and other expeditions. Hopefully the 45-miler will be better.


What were the highs and lows of that first time?

I really enjoyed reaching the top of Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons on a three-day training expedition. Also reaching the finish of the event gave me a great sense of achievement. However the almost constant rain was irritating to say the least, and I found I got some pretty bad blisters after the first day due to wet feet.


Any funny stories?

It was a surprise when about half a mile from the finish my dogs came running up the hill followed by one of our teachers and accompanied us back. 


What are your goals/hopes for the upcoming Ten Tors?

I would like to finish before midday on the second day, as we did last time. And I hope for slightly better weather!


‘Do’s and ‘Don’t’s for anyone attempting the Ten Tors for the first time this year?

Make sure you have all the right kit for scrutineering, or you won’t be able to take part. Look after your feet, get a decent set of waterproof boots, good socks and gaiters and make sure the boots are well worn in! Keep a good relationship with your team mates – you will need them, as they’ll need you, for moral support when it gets difficult.

Don’t go too fast for your pace, or you’ll have no energy and could get lost or end up being pulled off. Don’t overpack your bag – too much weight will slow you down and could cause injury. Don’t ignore a fault – if something’s wrong with you or your kit, tell someone and if you think your navigator or leader has made a mistake, tell them. Far better to stop for five minutes and check than take a two-hour detour.


And any advice for their anxious parents back home?!

There’s endless amounts of safety precautions and procedures, up to a helicopter on call to reach any incident within minutes. Also, the training expeditions and emergency kit provided will prepare anyone for nearly anything. Furthermore, my mum has told me the website tracking the team’s progress becomes addictive, and the atmosphere at the end is not something to miss. 

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