A Bedminster Down student recounts the challenge of the Ten Tors – and being the only girl

Published on: 31 May 2016

Bedminster Down Ten Tors team group pictureHannah Fritsch: Tackling Ten Tors

Hannah Fritsch is a year 10 student at Bedminster Down School and took part in the annual Ten Tors 35 mile trek on Dartmoor during May.  Here she tells South Bristol Voice about one of the toughest physical and mental challenges available for teenagers in the UK.

How did you get involved in Ten Tors?

Every year my school send one or two teams to take part in the army-organised event.  When I started at Bedminster Down our team didn’t complete because they stopped to help a girl who was stuck in a river.  They received medals and were all over the media.  Right then, in year 7, I decided I wanted to be part of the team when I got to that part of the school.

What is involved to get ready for the May weekend?

From September in Year 10 everyone who volunteers goes through a training and selection process.  This year we started with more than 30 students but only seven of us stuck to the training programme.  After the first couple of weekends navigating, trekking and camping in all weathers on the Mendips and Dartmoor some people decide that it isn’t for them.  You need to be ready to be on the move over an entire weekend with kit that can weigh up to xxx kilos.  One training weekend was on Dartmoor in the middle of February – it takes some grit and determination to keep going through horizontal rain.

Did you consider dropping out?

Many times I considered stopping during the training.  As the Ten Tors weekend got closer excitement took over.  There are low points but throughout the training I’ve learnt to get over difficult situations.  Sometimes the mental challenge is harder than the physical one.

Did you miss any lessons to do Ten Tors 

Not really.  All the training is at the weekends.Do you  It is a good way to get to know other people in your year group though.

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE TEN TORS CHALLENGE?

The weather was amazing and the atmosphere in the camp phenomenal. We arrived Friday morning and spent the day planning out our route, going through kit checks and a briefing, and just soaking in the atmosphere. 

Everyone set off at 7:00 am on Saturday morning and I found it staggering how 2,000 people could fit onto this tiny hillside.

Throughout the weekend, the most memorable part was how nice everyone was and how complete strangers would just say "hello" and "good luck" to us. 

The soldiers at the checkpoints and in the camp were also super friendly, which made it easier.

Saturday was 12 hours of walking and then camping, and on Sunday our team walked the rest of the distance that we had left and finished before noon.  We received our medals and our complementary pasty, and then we took a group photo and drove back to Bristol. 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING THE ONLY GIRL ON THE TEAM?

I don't think that it matters. It shouldn't. Yes, I was the only girl. Yes, at times it was noticeable. At other times it wasn't at all. 

After walking for 35 miles, I couldn't have cared less about gender. I didn't care before, either. Because it doesn't matter. What matters is resilience, teamwork and endurance. Not gender. It doesn't matter and it shouldn't. 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE THINKING OF DOING TEN TORS IN 2017?

Honestly? I'd say, "Congratulations, you're crazy", because you have to be crazy to do this sort of thing.

Freezing nights in draughty tents, torrential rain for hours on end, mud and bog to your thighs, fog and sleet and snow, blistering sun (occasionally), aching feet, blisters the size of twenty pence coins....the list goes on.

The thing is, if you're thinking of doing Ten Tors, that list will have only made you want to do it more. If not, then....I don't know, still try, but you might not like it.  And it is all worth it. Trust me. Most of the training will be hell on Earth. Although there are moments during training when it feels like it's worth it (ie, when you finish the walks), most of the time you will be asking yourself why on earth you're doing this. Why? It's torture. 

However. When you go over the hill and you can see the finish line and the people waiting to cheer you on, every single moment of that torture will have been worth it. 

So do Ten Tors. Because if you're crazy enough to consider it, you're crazy enough to do it. 

That should be the official slogan, I think. 

 

 

For more information visit www.tentors.org.uk

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