We at Hiatus love our challenges, whether that’s beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow or across the angry, glimmering sea – we enjoy seeing what’s inside our locker.
Whilst team selection is ultimately a choice based on a combination of experience, skills and personality – we believe you can increase your chances of being selected by strengthening your ‘CV of Allyness’ .
By successfully completing certain peer-acknowledged challenges, people can gauge your stamina, fortitude and perseverance - which ultimately determines what opportunities your network puts you forward for, or highlights to you. Whilst rowing across the Atlantic ocean or summitting the mighty Matterhorn may not be for everyone, we’ve listed a few here that are affordable and eminently achievable with some clear focus:
1. Medical training
Every expedition team member should have a basic level of medical awareness - that goes without saying. To solely rely on the nominated expedition medic is taking unnecessary risk; that individual may indeed become a casualty through bad luck – meaning their vital life-saving knowledge isn’t in the hands of people that need it.
Whilst it doesn’t sound particularly attractive (for us it conjures up the idea of applying a bandage for a paper cut in the office environment), however the one day emergency first-aid-at-work course (aka eFAW), teaches you everything you need to know about being a useful first responder for dealing with medical issues.
Go one step further with the 2-day first-aid-at-work course (FAW) and you’ll gain knowledge for use in remote settings such as: injuries to bones, muscles and joints (including suspected spinal injuries); chest injuries; burns and scalds; eye injuries; poisoning and anaphylactic shock.
What you learn: medical skills that can be used at home as well as on expedition.
Cost: eFAW available from £100.
Take this further: First response emergency care (FREC) level 3 course, Wilderness first responder (WFR).
The Ironman triathlon is still a gnarly physical endeavour, however why not throw an ascent of Snowdon and a cold lake swim into the mix as well?
The brutal events series have clearly been designed by an especially twisted mind - with interesting running trail running and multi-sport events such as the midnight mountain marathon and the Deca - 10 Iron-distance triathlons completed continuously (or one a day if you want something a little easier!)
What you’ll learn: how to self-motivate when you’re at a low-ebb; How to keep on going; how to deal with obstacles and set-backs.
Cost: Full Brutal extreme triathlon: £312 (for comparison, entry to UK Ironman ranges from £390 - £465).
Want more: Double and Triple Brutal, Norseman triathlon.
This little beaut of a challenge has been running for a long while and still considered a tasty little number. The premise is simple: you (and a mate) canoe or kayak 125 miles along the canals and River Thames from the heart of the Wiltshire countryside to the UK seat of power.
Oh, and did we mention - you have to exit the water and carry the canoe around 77 obstacles (known as portages)?
The race is a challenge just to finish (the DNF rate is relatively big for the event) however if you do it in under 24 hours or in a klepper canoe, you get bonus badass points.
Famous previous DW finishers include: explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, TV Presenter Steve Backshall, Olympic gold medallist rowers James Cracknell and Helen Glover, and the first British woman to climb Everest Rebecca Stephens.
Cost: Entry for senior doubles (the non-stop race) is £230.
What you’ll learn: how to think straight when you’re absolutely exhausted and haven’t slept; How to motivate team mates; Navigational skills.
Need something harder? The Talisker whiskey Atlantic challenge (TWAC); Clipper round the world race.
4. Become a disaster response volunteer with Team Rubicon UK
It costs nothing to join TRUK as a disaster response ninja. You join a league of veterans, emergency services and ninjas to deploy in response to a domestic or international emergency. No experience is necessary, and they’ll train you in everything you’ll need to know (you will have to bring enthusiasm, passion and interest to be successful).
In the few years it’s been running, TRUK has established itself as a punchy organisation that brings a definite skill set to the disaster response sector – and it will bring you into the network of people that are true game-changers.
What you’ll learn: How to thrive in an uncertain environment; how to look after yourself in resource-strained places; how to live and work with other cultures; How to stay safe in insecure places.
Cost: Nothing (although it’s nice to pay the £6 for the DBS check)
Not enough for you? Join the Royal Marines Reserve (accepts male and females); try regular Special Forces selection.
A somewhat trending concept right now, mental health is (rightfully) now being considered in the same way as physical health.
With the advent of social media, health services are seeing an increase in need for mental health therapies (such as social prescribing). Equipping yourself with the skillset to spot the signs of lowered mental health in others could enough to save someone’s life – whilst also recognising symptoms within yourself. Whilst a 2-day course isn’t going to make you Sigmund Freud - it will however, bring a unique skill set useful in any challenging expedition.
What you’ll learn: How to spot the warning signs in other people; how to support others in times of high stress.
Cost: c.£250 through the Eleos Partnership
Want more? Look at distance learning or blended learning psychology courses such as those at Oxford University.
By now everyone has done and heard of the Marathon des Sables, you can almost guarantee someone you know has done it.
However, there are a number of other desert ultras out there which will challenge you more for less money. Races like the Oman desert ultra for example will see you run 165km across incredibly beautiful terrain …with some savage sand dunes.
What you’ll learn: how to be self-sufficient in the desert environment; how to pack for endurance; how to be resourceful and keep gear to a minimum.
Cost: Early bird tickets for the race is just 1300 euros.
Want more? Check out the 4Deserts series which includes races across the Gobi desert, Atacama desert and even an ultra
7. Complete a Bob Graham round
The Bob Graham round is a 66-mile, ultramarathon circuit that takes in 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lake District within 24 hours. If that doesn’t sound hard enough, we’ll add that it features over 27,000 ft of climbing (2000 ft below Everest and the height that commercial aircraft fly at!).
What you’ll learn: Fundamentals of reconnaissance; looking after yourself; planning for remote environments.
Cost: Transport and accommodation to get to the Lake district.
Want more? Try the infamous ‘Fan Dance’ route in the Brecon Beacons – there’s a good reason it’s a test march of special forces selection. If that’s still not enough - take a look at Montane’s Spine Race or the Ultra trail du Mont Blanc – both honking experiences in their own right.