Having completed both Exercise FINAL THRUST and ‘cheeky week’ in weeks 27 and 28 respectively and Christmas leave upcoming we had a change in our training programme. We would be undertaking what to the large majority of us would be the most demanding evolution in recruit training – the Commando Tests. These four physical tests are designed to push recruits to not just their physical, but their mental threshold to confirm that they are fit to take their place as a Royal Marines Commando in a fighting unit. By this stage, most of the Troop were sporting niggles and small injuries of sorts. That said, we were determined that nothing would stop us from getting to the end of the 30 Miler.

Our first test – the Endurance Course, took place on the Friday of the previous week. It was a 2 mile route on Woodbury Common Training Area (WCTA) which covers boggy paths, narrow water logged tunnels and a sheep dip. This was then followed by a 4 mile run back to camp and a 25m shoot where 6 from 10 shots must be on target to pass. The test is to be completed in webbing weighing 21lbs, carrying your rifle. The time allowed for the course, excluding the shoot is 73mins. All members of 146 Troop passed that day! Our second test took place on the Sunday – the 9 Mile Speed March, also completed with 21lbs and rifle. We were driven off camp again to WCTA. The first 3 miles were at a gruelling fast pace however, we had been through a lot over the last 8 months, some of the Troop longer, so a fast paced run was not going to stop us from staying with it. We finished the speed march within the given time as a Troop with no failures. We were starting to show why we are the best Troop on camp.

Now half way through the Commando tests, we were welcomed the next day by the Tarzan Assault Course. This is a high obstacle course followed by the entire bottom field assault course all to be completed within a lung bursting 13mins. Unfortunately some of the Troop failed this test at the first attempt but were given the opportunity to try again in the afternoon. The only test left for us to take on was the 30 Miler across the undulating hills and terrain of Dartmoor. We woke up on Tuesday morning at 0400hrs ready for the transport to Dartmoor. We arrived at Okehampton Camp for a large breakfast and then before we knew it we were setting off on what was personally the toughest challenge of our lives so far.

The first few miles were steep ascents and descents over Tors and through boggy ground. We were experiencing first hand what heavy rainfall does to the peat ground of Dartmoor. We ran when the ground was flat and downhill, but kept a quick marching pace on the uphill in order to make up the time. The going was tough with the wet boggy ground we were covering. As each hour passed we were racked up the miles and really started to feel the strain on our bodies, drinking at least half a litre of water at each stop. Unfortunately, again the Troop had a couple of individuals who failed to make it in within the time and had to complete a re-run of the test on the Thursday morning, of which they passed. We now have Christmas Leave to look forward to.


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