Amy Dyson, a Leader with 1st Witchford Brownies, and her team of local Scouters, collectively known as ‘The Witchford Wanderers’, once again took part in the Cambridge University Scout and Guide Club (CUSAGC) Marathon Challenge.
The CUSAGC Marathon Challenge is an annual incident hike for members of Girlguiding and the Scout Association . The challenge is for teams to gain points by visiting as many of 26 checkpoints as possible in nine hours (a proportion of these are in darkness), over about a 70 sq km area. Teams are given grid references for the checkpoints and must choose their own route. The majority of the checkpoints are unmanned (with orienteering stamps to ensure fair play), but teams gain more points at manned checkpoints where there are further challenges to complete.
Amy said ‘We managed to fit in a practice hike by way of training this year and it paid off. We visited 22 checkpoints, walking about 23 miles in all, and were delighted to come 2nd in the leaders’ competition. This was an improvement of 4 checkpoints and 4 places from last year. We also managed an extra 2 miles, but took almost an hour less, mainly because we were consistently walking at over 3 miles an hour throughout the day and evening.’
The challenges this year were based around a first aid scenario; a mixed quiz (covering knots, capital cities, breaking a code and general knowledge); a constellations challenge (we had to follow bearings to mark out a constellation and identify it, before answering questions about space exploration) and a trust challenge. This last challenge was reminiscent of sheepdog trials: three of us were blindfolded (it was pitch dark, so we could have just turned our torches off!) while another had to manoeuvre us around an obstacle course using just a whistle to give directions. Apparently we were the best team at not talking during this exercise, but those who know the Scouters in our team may find this hard to believe!
CUSAGC also run an annual incident hike for Guides and Scouts in the spring, with five checkpoints spaced around a 10 mile route. Further details of both the Marathon Challenge and the Incident Hike can be found on the CUSAGC website.