"Today we lay down the gauntlet. This is Iron Man"
Chief Instructor of Joint UKSF SAS and SBS Selection, 2001
THE ORIGINAL SAS TEST MARCH
Over the years various nicknames have been unofficially attached to each test march and have stuck to the extent that these names are know what they're known by. The name Iron Man doesn't fail to deceive, and that is owed to most of the RV points being located in hard to reach and hard to find locations with extremely demanding intervening terrain. Staged on the western side of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the unique characteristic of Iron Man is the unavoidable cocktail of suffering it never fails to serve; with a combination of shockingly steep features and utterly miserable underfoot and off trail conditions, it delivers the very best, and very worst of Point to Point and the Elan Valley - Loadstone series of marches combined. Here Iron Man comes into its own and for many it is the most demanding march they will face on Test Week aside of The Long Drag.
To make each RV and breach the undisclosed final time limit to ultimately pass this march, the volunteer has no option but to take on some of the worst conditions and most demanding terrain in the entire Beacons range. Long, drawn out and seemingly never ending slopes, brutal inclines, vast and hard to navigate expanses of flat, open marshland and micro-climates prone to reduced visibility serve to make Iron Man the beast that crushes the will to keep going and drains energy levels more than any other march. Factor in the weather and the exposed nature of the landscape, and anyone taking on this march will be pitting themselves against a very real and ultimate physical and mental endurance challenge.
However, for those with the right temperament there is a lot more to this otherwise sinister march than suffering alone. Iron Man tracks across what is arguably the wildest route of the four Test Week marches staged in the Beacons and the open nature of the terrain allows you to feel a strong and real sense of a return to nature and going back to basics. Along with Point to Point, it is also for many the most satisfying to complete. A real sense of achievement and well-being is experienced by those taking on the landscape and features that Iron Man has to offer. We believe this comes from a multitude of reasons; the dramatic and contrasting nature of the terrain, rather than repeatedly going up and down features, the ever present need to be thinking and on top of your personal drills, and the off trail routes between RV points allowing for a physical and mental experience of isolation that truly offers a strong sense of realism as to what it is to be on ''Selection.'' It is little wonder that some of the greatest adventure literature has been composed by mountaineers and explorers describing the sheer joy of how the mind and body feels to work ones way up a mountain or across a landscape. Leaning into a slope and pushing into the next step while becoming immersed in nature can be physically demanding but soul cleansing as the mind is focused intently on nothing but the present moment.
IRON MAN TEST MARCH LOAD BEARING REQUIREMENTS
45lb Plus food and water
30lb Plus food and water
Mountain Safety clothing and equipment only
Anyone attempting the Iron Man test march must have completed the Fan Dance (summer or winter edition) and the Test March associated Training Day. We welcome independent applications (discounted) from current or former serving members of the armed forces.
ALL FOR WHAT: THE IRON MAN 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.
THE IRON MAN SAS TEST MARCH EVENT: A STORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS