I know it may be a little bit late, however we completed the patrol with a silver medal and I will not lie but it was the hardest thing I have ever done! But after some rest and recuperation it was well worth it because the sense of achievement is immense and you get a massive amount of respect for getting through it.
With regards to the actual patrol and prep abide by the following:-
- don't train with stupidly heavy weight, train with around 15-20kg but for long distances, build the shoulders up as they are one of the first things to go when carrying the weight on the patrol.
- work on skills and drills - it's no good just tabbing your way around it and getting to the stands and not having a clue as this is where you build your points up. work on mine recognition, wpn rec, pow treatment, first aid, section attack, casualty evac (stretcher runs with actual human casualties because if you use dead weight then it is not distributed like it is with a person), river crossings make sure you get the lads down the pool to work on using their legs and pushing bergan across the river, model pits, make sure the lads can build a good model pit as this will score you good points, make sure your commander follows his tams when giving brief. make sure all the lads can map read and ensure they all take down various grids, every grid you get pass it onto everyone as this will go well on the de-brief.
- ensure you radio in to ZERO at the required times as this scores you points aswell.
- as for terrain it is horrendous be prepared for bog, marsh, babies heads (big tufts of grass in the marsh land, climbing your way through valley re-entrants, do plenty of hill work.
- KIT make sure every item is individually waterproofed, when the rain comes put your gore tex on because the last thing you want is to fill your bergan with drenched kit adding to the weight (this caused us dramas) better to sweat for a little while and keep the weight down than fill your bergan with wet kit. Might be obvious but better to be mentioned. Take plenty of socks and definately tape your feet up and take spare tape as some of the terrain is wading through small rivers and massive pools of water, if needs be stop, strip wet socks and loose tape, start from scratch, dry your feet, re tape, fresh socks on and away you go again. If I did it again I would take spare boots and put the spare set on half way through the challenge as our feet were in a bad state at the end. If you don't want to take the weight of spare boots then don't worry about putting wet boots back on as the tabbing will keep your feet warm just take plenty of socks!!
- Ensure your team is full to the brim with guys that genuinely WANT to do it, because if you have even one or two that aren't up for it then it will fall apart and will be a waste of time even going.
- The week before you do it make sure every man jack rams a serious amount of food down their necks, absolutely smash the carbs in, it will pay dividends in the end, on the patrol every chance you get EAT and drink plenty of energy/carb drinks and water, I would even suggest you take some diralyte sachets and replenish the lost salts and electrolytes.
- But most of all STAY strong MENTALLY, no matter how bad it gets just think we have come to far to jack it in now!! I guarantee without fail that every man will have wobbly moments and will consider quitting!!!
- Don't let the DS Staff build your hopes up! If they say nice one lads one stand to go, they are lying! Always expect another stand until you are on that bus going back to camp!! You will know when it is over though it will be pretty obvious!! Although there will be that niggly thought in your head that thinks is there more to come!??
- keep the morale high amongst the guys when away from the stands and prying eyes close up and keep the banter going, when closer to stands or prying eyes look professional keep your patrol spacings and look "switched on" as iif you keep your spacings all the way through and don't communicate lads will go on a downer. If you need to stop, then stop, take 5, get some water and food on board then crack on.
The night before your start time, MAKE SURE you get some guaranteed accommodation or even make sure you get permission to stay in a barn somewhere close and get a decent nights sleep, we had a rubbish nights sleep before we started!!
Hope this helps and any further questions just ask!