IT is one of the most physically and mentally challenging tests on the planet.
Exercise Cambrian Patrol, based in the Black Mountains, is an international contest for soldiers which sees them pushed to the limits in a gruelling 48-hour mission.
But a former chef from Hawarden proved himself against the world’s best – marching, swimming and shooting his way to a silver medal.
Guardsman Gareth Hughes, 22, and his team excelled in the two-day challenge, which saw them navigating through the tough terrain day and night, taking part in reconnaissance missions, cold river crossings, first aid and even defensive shooting under attack.
Guardsman Hughes, who serves with the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, said the challenge was as tough as he expected, but the experience of his team helped them to the silver medal.
“There are members in our team who have experience of taking part before so we were able to pick up some tips on the best approach,” he said.
“Brecon wasn’t the easiest of terrain to get through and we had to get over it while carrying a lot of weight.”
More than 1,000 regular and reserve soldiers in the British Army, as well as troops representing countries around the globe, fronted up to the challenge.
The contest dates back to 1959, but this year’s event featured 17 international teams from Norway, New Zealand, Ukraine, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Albania, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, India, Australia, Estonia, Poland, Greece and France.
Before the event, Guardsman Hughes and his team worked hard to improve their fitness to be ready for the two days ahead of them.
Speaking before the event, he said: “There’ll be plenty of patrolling and not a lot of sleep, that’s for sure. I’m not the strongest of swimmers and there’s the prospect of a river crossing to take on.”
Military skills, stamina and dedication were constantly evaluated during the patrol and marked with a system of points. Teams that successfully complete their patrol are awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal or certificate of merit, depending on the total number of points they have gained.
Cambrian Patrol Warrant Officer, WO2 Stephen Eaves, from 160 (Wales) Brigade, said: “This year’s event has been another big success and there were a record number of initial entrants.
“There is a huge amount of work that goes into making this exercise as realistic and demanding as possible. It’s the ultimate challenge for the modern-day soldier and patrols who completed Cambrian can be rightly proud of their achievements.”