Last year, we witnessed the return of in-person events and caught up with our team of inspiring hikers who took part in The Fan Dance, a 24km route march in the Brecon Beacons in June, raising £1,180 for the veterans we care for. In this blog, they talk about their great experience.
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Why did you decide to take part in the Fan Dance?
Jackie: I really liked the idea of a challenge and this one was quite unique. It was rather daunting to take on the Special Forces training route, especially as so many of the others doing the route would be current or ex-military, but I really wanted to give it a go.
Lydia: I wanted to take part because I had never seen an event like it, and thought it seemed like an exciting opportunity to climb a new mountain whilst supporting the fantastic work of Royal Star & Garter.
Pam: We should all plan to do something every year that puts us outside of our comfort zone, and pushes us to do something more. There was a curiosity in me to find out if I had what it takes to complete the course.
What was the most memorable part?
Jackie: There were so many! The camaraderie with my colleagues and with the others completing the challenge was brilliant.
Lydia: Climbing to the top of the Pen y Fan in a complete white out, and having no idea what was coming next! It was exhilarating.
Pam: The most surreal part was being in the thick of the cloud, complete white out all around, and the only thing you could see was the cloud and the track two steps in front of you… hearing only the heavy breath of other Fan Dancers around you, pushing onwards and upwards into the void.
What did you find the most challenging?
Jackie: Definitely the ascent of Jacob’s Ladder on the return part of the route. We’d already climbed up to Pen y Fan and then down Jacobs Ladder, and been walking for hours. It was pretty brutal – very steep and very rocky.
Lydia: The most challenging part for me was probably camping the night before; a good night’s sleep would have helped. The challenge was 24km long, which is a long way up and down a mountain!
Pam: The toughest part was the return leg up Jacobs Ladder, to summit for the second time… a relentless climb that just gets steeper and steeper, until it is a final clamber on all fours to get to the summit. The clouds clearing and the most spectacular view rewarded me when I finally got to the top, encouragement indeed.
One piece of advice you would give to future Fan Dancer’s?
Jackie: Practice walking in all your gear with your backpack (including drinks) before the event. And trim down your toe nails a couple of days before you go!
Lydia: I would say make sure you train by walking up large hills regularly, to help build stamina, which will help you a lot on the day. And most importantly, enjoy the day!
Pam: It was the toughest, scariest most exhilarating challenge I have ever completed, and the camaraderie and encouragement from other Fan Dancers is really quite phenomenal – everyone there has each other’s back. There is an ever-deepening respect for all those in the armed forces who complete that challenge and others like it every single day.
Every pound raised helps us offer an outstanding range of quality care and therapies to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia. If you’d like to fundraise for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or go on our Events page.