Now, you could be of the understanding that a ‘Fan Dance’ could be construed as being an exotic western dance being performed in maybe a gentleman’s club appertaining to a somewhat dressed down manner covering those certain parts with the aid of ostrich feathers, or indeed, of a considered understanding that a fan dance may be relating to a Morris dancing troupe swirling handkerchiefs and wielding swords or sticks jingling bells on shin pads on a sunny summer afternoon on a village green, perhaps with a beer in hand enjoying the frivolities.
Far from it, the reality was that South Eastern and Eccles Group member Paul Morton, a member of Andrew Lodge No 3328, partook in one of the most gruelling events known as the ‘Fan Dance’, all of which was in the aid of charity.
The event was organised by Ken Jones, an ex-SAS officer. The Fan Dance is a 24 kilometre non-navigational race over two sides of Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. This infamous route has long been a part of SAS (Special Air Service) and SBS (Special Boat Service) selection and is considered the yardstick of a candidate’s potential to perform well on ‘test week’ and ultimately pass the Special Forces selection programme.
Starting at the iconic old red telephone box, the race goes straight up to the 886 metre summit checkpoint of Pen Y Fan and after descending ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ continues along an undulating stone vehicle track known as the ‘Roman road’ to a second checkpoint, which serves as a tea stop, but in actual fact, a quick turnaround point.
Then, suitably refreshed, taking the route in reverse, the racers climb back up the ‘Fan’ via Jacob’s ladder and pass through the summit checkpoint a second time before running back down to the finish at the red telephone box.
Carrying the stipulated 18 kilogram loaded Bergen, Paul completed the course in five hours 15 minutes. Paul said he was aiming for, and would have expected to finish the course in four hours 30 minutes but for him assisting a fellow competitor who was experiencing some difficulties, Paul assisted by staying alongside the person for the duration to complete the course while carrying their Bergen too, a combined weight of 36 kilograms.
It is written that the mountain challenge is referred to as a majestic experience and that the feeling of climbing a moving escalator the wrong way with shortness of breath and heavy legs was, on completion, concurred as a humbling experience by Paul.
Paul also completed the Manchester Marathon earlier in the year of which charitable proceeds were also presented to charity. He said the marathon was actually part of his training towards the Fan dance.
Paul expressed his thanks to all those who supported his ‘Fan Dance’ effort and said the £500 he raised would be donated to the Macmillan Cancer Charity.