Elizabeth Shaw at the Intelligent Sport UK Challenge

Posted on by Elizabeth Shaw

When a colleague asked me back in January if I wanted to partake in the team building event Intelligent Sport UK Challenge with five other people from our office, I didn’t think much of it and said yes.

She described it as “a three-day and three-night event full of adrenaline-fuelled adventure, action and surprises that will test your physical, intellectual and strategic skills” – which sounded like fun!

I, nor the other five members of staff, had any idea what we had let ourselves in for – I can now honestly say that it has been probably the most exhilarating and life-changing experience I’ve ever had.

The Overview

We were one of 56 teams taking part. Over 54 hours, we would take part in six different missions across Dartmoor – biking, running, canoeing, all while constantly strategising. There were six of us in a team, but generally only four members would take part per mission, with two substitutes.

We were told at the beginning that there would be blood, sweat and tears – and they weren’t lying!

Here’s an example of the type of challenges we rose to over the weekend.

Mission 2: Friday 21st June, 09.00–11.30

‘Minimal Intelligen5e’ – Disciplines: Running & Canoeing

Strategy – 3/5

Physical – 4/5

Intelligence – 3/5

By this stage, we were already a day in, tired and it was starting to get exciting. We had to ‘locate and seize’ a minimum of two ‘spies’ by visiting a number of set locations to find part of a map grid reference, which when put together, revealed the spies’ locations.

Some of these set locations were on water and some on land, so once we got our start envelope with maps etc., we decided which spies we wanted to aim for and which areas to visit. Finding the partial grid references was relatively simple – next, we had to find the spy!

Following the grid references, we headed to the location, but no matter how much we searched, we couldn’t find the spy. We double checked our grid references and our compass bearings, but we still couldn’t find the spy and time was running out.

I'm so proud of myself and the other team members for getting through it - for keeping their spirits high, for not giving up, and for supporting and encouraging each other the whole way.
I don’t think any of us thought we would get through the weekend but we did. We’re still standing and breathing (just!), we have our medals in our hands, and we’ve come through this enormous challenge in one piece.

To try and come away with something, we decided to go for bonus  points.

To do this, we had to split into pairs and hit certain locations in a particular order. So pair one had to hit locations A and C, and pair two locations B and D. Mobile phones were not allowed, so planning was key.

Heading to the finish line, we felt confident that we’d managed to  get some bonus points…or so we thought! We found out that we hit bonus point C 50 seconds before bonus point B, which meant they were in the wrong order and we didn’t get the points!

I don’t think any of us thought we would get through the weekend but we did. We’re still standing and breathing (just!), we have our medals  in our hands, and we’ve come through this enormous challenge in one piece.

The feeling is pretty amazing and I can honestly say I’ve never  experienced it before. To find words to sum this up is difficult, but I  feel I’ve achieved something massive, and I’m so proud of myself and the  other team members for getting through it –for keeping their spirits  high, for not giving up, and for supporting and encouraging each other  the whole way.


This was an event and an achievement I will never forget…especially  as we’ve just signed up to the 2014 UK Challenge – Snowdonia!