"Welcome to the green desert. Welcome to hell"
Directing Staff: Lodestone -Week 3-SAS & SBS Winter Selection
THE ELAN VALLEY SPECIAL FORCES
ELAN SOUTH & ELAN NORTH
19th & 20th SEPTEMBER 2015
Throughout the history of SAS Selection various nicknames have been unofficially attached to each of the original SAS Selection Test Week marches. Two of the six tests are set apart, seemingly a world away from the better known Brecon Beacons; they hold no name or nickname and are the most feared and dreaded marches on the entire Selection course. Simply referred to as Elan North and Elan South, they have the greatest impact on Test Week and are ultimately the catalyst for determining overall success or failure on the remaining marches. Staged in one of the last great wilderness areas of the UK, the remote, barren and sparsely populated area around Elan Valley has become the ultimate Special Forces testing ground.
The two Elan Test Week marches are set in the Northern and the Southern expanses of a mountainous and marshy hinterland known by Special Forces narrators as the green desert, and for good reason. Once on the high ground the landscape opens into an near featureless sea of green that seemingly only ends where it meets the skyline. The RV points are all hidden in remote, hard to reach and hard to find locations, obstructed by extremely demanding intervening terrain. The underfoot conditions are far more leg sapping and treacherous than any of the Brecon Beacons marches with unavoidable expanses of football sized tufts of grass known as babies’ heads, stinking peat bogs spilling out characteristic brown coloured water, and marshland disseminated in pockets of knee deep pools of muddy water hidden by reeds. A large coverage can be more likened to wetlands and in parts nothing short of a quagmire. Factor in the some of the highest levels of rainfall in the country, the menace of thick hill fog, known as 'clag' and it will become clear why the Elan test marches result in more yellow cards and Voluntary Withdrawals than any other. Regarded as a hell hole by all who attempt Selection and reach the Lodestone marches, any soldier worth his salt knows the green desert should never be underestimated.
Although the nuts and bolts of Elan North and Elan South marches are consistent with their Brecon Beacon counterparts they do offer a completely different challenge that is not only far removed from the other four tests, but are also vastly unique against any other endurance race, military themed test, event or bootcamp ever to be staged. Nowhere else in the land can compare to the wilderness of the green desert and each of its Test Week marches stand proudly alone in being among the most demanding one day endurance events in existence. The terrain is nothing short of brutal and unforgiving, a very real mother nature’s assault course made up of cliff faces, steep hills almost indistinguishable from any other in the range, marshland, and raging waist high streams that could pass for small rivers, protective barriers that need to be crossed if you are to reach the FRV. Anyone attempting these marches should come armed with endurance, true grit, a strong sense of humour, high standards of personal administration, dead accurate navigation skills and an unwavering will to succeed. While the distances and altitude gain involved tell a deceiving story, the reality is that these marches will take you further out of your comfort zone than any other in the Test Week series. To attempt two consecutive test marches in as many days will take you even closer to a true Special Forces experience and provide a platform to justify being awarded a place on the ultimate test of endurance, The Long Drag.
’Once a man gets caught up in an event he no longer has any fear of it.’’
These words should be remembered: The Elan Valley offers far more than misery and suffering alone for it is one of the most stunningly beautiful and rugged landscapes anywhere in the world. Anyone holding a strong connection to nature or drawn to a real wilderness immersion will be in their element. The Elan marches offer an immense physical challenge, but more profoundly they offers solitude and a rare but true sense of what it is to be alone, detached and independent of all. Two tests and two great adventures of a life time deep in the heartland of SAS Selection. Forever etched into the memories of anyone who has attempted Selection, the Elan Valley is an unforgettable place that any candidate wishes those that follow him to suffer.
Never underestimate the green desert!
ELAN NORTH AND SOUTH LOAD BEARING REQUIREMENTS
45lb Plus food and water
30lb Plus food and water
Mountain Safety clothing and equipment only
Anyone attempting the Elan North & South test marches test march must have completed the Fan Dance (summer or winter edition), the Test March associated Training Day and passed one of the following: Iron Man, Point to Point or Ricochet. We welcome independent applications (discounted) from current or former serving members of the armed forces.
ALL FOR WHAT: THE POINT TO POINT FINISHER'S PATCH
Upon passing Selection soldiers are presented only with a modest winged dagger cloth cap badge stitched onto a sandy beret. True to the SAS Regimental ethos, in particular humility, each of the six test marches will have its own uniquely designed cloth patch with it's own equally unique background story.