Friday, May 12, 2006

G4 Land Rover Challenge 2006

Known as ‘the ultimate adventure’, the G4 challenge offers men and women from
eighteen nations the opportunity to match strategy, stamina and skill in an
awesome 4x4 driving and multi-sport challenge. Working in bi-national teams,
competitors are matched against each other across four consecutive stages
spanning Southeast Asia and South America.

The 2006 Land Rover G4 Challenge promises to be tougher and more spectacular than ever. This time the action starts amongst the intensity of Bangkok city, and ends at high altitude on the plains of Bolivia. In between lie thousands of miles of vehicle-based adventure, strategy and sweat. At the end of it all waits a new Range Rover for the winner, and the knowledge that they completed a tough test of both body and mind for everyone who competed in the event.

Over ten thousand people applied over the world to take park and only fifty of the UK applicants made it to the National selection weekend on Saturday 19th Nov. One DES member was lucky enough to be amongst those chosen. Here is Ed Flower’s account of what happened.

The brief:

I was told to register on site at Ordnance Survey grid reference SP164821. I had to be at this location no earlier than 0700hrs, and no later than 0800hrs on Saturday the 19 November. Late arrivals would be turned away. I arrived at 0705hrs, fashionably late.
We had been told to be prepared for activities including running, camping overnight, navigating, obstacle courses, 4 x 4 driving, vehicle familiarisation, kayaking, climbing and physical aptitude. We would be pushed to the limit, physically challenged and mentally tested.

We spent Saturday doing activity after activity from 9am to 3pm. These ranged from mountain biking through rivers to mental aptitude tests. It was non-stop physical and mental torture. Ok torture may be a little strong, but it was tough. As the challenge unfolded the tasks became harder; by far the worst was running through a brown muddy river up to my waist with ice floating around me: it was very, very cold!

It took me back twelve years to that chilly winter weekend in South Wales when I did my selection weekend for the Dorset Expeditionary Society. At eighteen I had been fortunate enough to take part in a similar type of activity. On my selection weekend for Moonlands 1992, I had faced physical challenge as well - I recall jumping into a river in South Wales in December then. Believe it or not, the experience in South Wales set me up.

When the G4 selection staff told you to do something you just did it. You never asked why. At the end of the day how bad could it get? Would I die? Well it truly did get very bad but, WOW, what a weekend! The highlight for me was driving a Land Rover Defender 110 through a river. (A highlight for two reasons: firstly it was an awesome experience driving off-road and secondly because I sat in the cab for a fantastic warm twenty minutes without being shouted at to push harder or dig deeper).

As 3pm arrived, it came to make the split: twenty-five people would remain to continue through to the night challenge and twenty-five would be forced to leave.

The film crew arrived, eager to capture the moment and in true TV fashion the original group of fifty contenders was split in two. Then the announcement came. I did not make the final stage. However it did not matter. From over 1,200 I had made the last fifty who could represent their county in one of the worlds toughest adventure races. I met some amazing people, some of the best adventure racers in the UK. I got to compete against them.

It was an amazing weekend that to be honest would never have been possible without the Dorset Expeditionary Society. Being able to list expeditions to India ,(92), Pyreness (94) and Ecuador (02, 05) on my application undoubtedly put me in contention. So a big thanks to all!!!….

Ed Flower


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