The Ten Tors Challenge was first run in 1960 and is organised by the British army who use it as a large-scale logistic exercise. 400 teams of 6 members from local schools, cadets, colleges and scout groups train for months in advance for the gruelling Spring event. To take part in the Ten Tors challenge takes physical fitness, mental determination and perhaps most importantly teamwork.
There are twenty-six different routes for the challenge depending on the age of the team members;
- 12 possible 35 mile routes for participants aged 14-15 years - these are called Bronze routes
- 10 possible 45 mile routes for participants who are 16-17 years of age - these are Silver routes
- 4 possible 55 mile routes for participants who are aged 18-19 years - these are Gold routes
There are a total of nineteen tors used in the event because of the variety of possible routes that a team can take. Each team must navigate across the moor, ascend all of the ten tors on their chosen route and pass through the manned checkpoints in order to successfully complete the event.
Camping and trekking on Dartmoor requires essential equipment, apart from the obvious needs such as boots, first aid kits, waterproofs, compass, spare clothing, tents, cooking equipment, head torch, sleeping bags & food. Many teams in the past of have found items like re sealable bags, dry bags, waterproof note book, energy bars & gels, gaiters and even foot & groin wipes to be essential parts of their kit.
Throughout the challenge each team is required to be entirely self-sufficient & therefore must carry as a team all of the equipment required needed to complete the Ten Tors. The challenge will test the survival skills of each team member as well as challenging them in the areas of navigation, camp administration, and related subjects.
Another factor which makes this challenge unpredictable is the weather on Dartmoor. Teams may find themselves camping in any conditions ranging from temperatures as hot as 26 degrees down to freezing temperatures and snowstorms. It is because of the possible extreme and fast changing conditions that may be experienced on Dartmoor that it is important to be properly prepared before the challenge starts.
The teams for the Ten Tors challenge begin to arrive at the Okehampton camp start point a day or two before the beginning of the event. It is during this time that every team member has to undergo scrutineering. Scrutineering involves thoroughly checking the kit of each participant to ensure they have prepared properly for the event and have the mandatory equipment. Scrutineers will be checking that teams will be carrying sufficient equipment.
The Ten Tors challenge is not a race as those who successfully complete their route qualify for a medal knowing that the hard work that they have done in the months prior to Ten Tors was worth it.