Ever heard of that programme ‘SAS: WHO DARES WINS’. You know, the one where four ex-Special Forces soldiers recreate the SAS’s secret selection process for recruits stupid enough to sign up? Well, we sent DOSE contributor Alice Rickard along to put it to the test…
You’ve read the title and you’re probably thinking that I’ve signed up to Tough Mudder or a jolly Spartan race. Wrong. In fact, what I’m about to describe makes the latter seem like playgrounds. This is no fun obstacle race day, not even close and you certainly won’t expect a celebratory pint at the end.
If you’ve ever watched the programme ‘SAS: WHO DARES WINS and like myself, have thought about signing up to the show, now you can get a taster of the action by taking part in a 1 day or 2 day course in Nutley, East Sussex.
Just like the programme, four ex-Special Forces soldiers have designed a course to give real-life recruits a taster of what it takes to be in the Special Forces. It’s a test of physical and more importantly psychological resilience that aims to transform and develop you in ways beyond all comprehension.
Here’s a little insight into the action…
After passing my medical check and practically signing my life away, I am emailed a mission brief for the one day course. I am instructed to arrive at 08:00 and wait in a lay-by outside the grounds.
I arrived fully caffeinated and a bag of nerves. Much to my relief, everyone else looks equally concerned. At 08:00 on the dot, (as you can imagine, this is not something you want to be late for), we park up in a field and are instructed to hand over everything. Car keys, possessions, mobile phones – the lot. This is not the type of course you will be taking sweaty selfies on!
I’m ordered to stand in line and wait for our transport and weigh up my fellow recruits. They all look pretty fit and strong. One of them just said he was a boxing coach. They’re probably wondering what the hell I am doing here. We must all be a mix of early twenties to late forties. 3 women and 13 men.
Before we have any time to make friends we are bundled into the back of a truck and hurtled cross country to the FOB (which I have to google afterwards because I am so nervous, I clearly missed what this part actually means). Forward Operating Base.
Each of us are given numbers which we are referred to for the rest of the day, with corresponding numbered bags. We have it all; army trousers, army boots, hats, camouflage, and we are kindly gifted a weighted Bergen (translation, a f@cking heavy rucksack) before being let loose in the fields to get to our training zone.
All the gear and no idea, I actually feel like I have been transported into a movie.
The morning is set aside for physical training, SAS style. As much as they are of the “one team, one dream” ethos, do not be fooled to think your comrades will shy away from competition. After all, that is what the programme was all about.
As I run through a forest of smoke, carrying a weighted sand bag, I am ordered to bang out some burpees. All I can hear are the shouts from our team leaders: ‘It Pays to Win’! The catch? Each winner would be exempt from the next task. You are unlikely to shy away in a fitness class after going through this.
Due to the extreme nature of the way these tasks are set, you’ll surprise yourself by how you react under pressure and will discover things about yourself that you never knew before. It is rare that we challenge ourselves mentally and physically at the same time. This course does both – all day long.
I am not going to lie and pretend this was in any way comfortable. There were multiple points in the day when I wanted to slow down, take a break or even worse, give up. But as much as they have the ability to break you down they have the ability to build you up!
I walked (… wait, I lie), hobbled away from that course, aching everywhere, at a physical level of exhaustion I can not explain but feeling invincible.
I remember sitting on my sofa at home moaning about my pains and tiredness but in the same breath saying, “if they knocked on the door and told me to suit up, get that bloody backpack back on again and start running, I would.”
If you can imagine doing your favourite fitness classes, but running from one to another with a weighted back pack – multiply that by 10, throw in a load of other surprises and you are getting closer to what completing a BreakPoint ESF course is like.
You will smile, laugh, possibly throw up, maybe even cry but you’ll love it at the same time and will come out a different person. Our group started as strangers but left feeling like family.
The next course in October is sold out so don’t hang around to book –