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SAS-inspired Brecon Beacons race gets extra safety

media captionKen Jones insisted his event was far safer than the real SAS course

Organisers of an endurance event based on SAS selection exercises have spoken of safety measures in light of the deaths of two soldiers in the Brecon Beacons last weekend.

Around 350 people took part in a 24km (15m) trek and back over 886m (2,907 ft) Pen y Fan mountain on Saturday.

Last weekend two reserve soldiers died in the Brecon Beacons whilst taking part in SAS selection training.

Ken Jones, organiser of the Fan Dance, said the events could not be compared.

The ex-para and special forces soldier said the Fan Dance was as "authentic as possible" but as a one-day event was very different to the full SAS selection course which takes place every day for four weeks.

Last Saturday two reserve soldiers died during an SAS selection exercise on Pen y Fan, and a third was taken seriously ill, as temperatures reached 30C. One of those who died was later named as L/Cpl Craig Roberts, 24, from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy.

Speaking before the event, Mr Jones said people taking part in the Fan Dance would carry much less weight in their packs than the soldiers.

image copyrightWales News Service
image captionCraig Roberts had served with the TA for more than five years

"It's 20lb less, and of course they [the soldiers] are carrying a 10lb weapon as well - and all their food and water," he said.

The civilians taking part all had significant experience as marathon runners, trail runners, 'ironmen' or in other endurance events, Mr Jones added.

Briefings were also sent out weeks before the event with details on mountain safety, training and fitness requirements, he said.

Saturday's start had been brought forward to 08:00 BST so that competitors would avoid the worst of the heat.

The weather proved to be slightly cooler than the previous weekend.

Mr Jones said that troops on the SAS course were "self-motivated and moving as hard as they can" hoping to prove they "aren't just the best in Britain, but the best in the world".

As a recreational event, he said the Fan Dance was different but he was proud that it remained "one of the toughest endurance events in the UK".

"Nothing like this has been accessible for civilians before," he said.

Previous competitors had loved the challenge and for some, said Mr Jones, it was "a landmark in their lives".

media captionFormer soldier Alun Wyn Roberts said he enjoyed the challenge

Mark Jones, deputy team leader of Brecon Mountain Rescue Team, said those taking part had to take responsibility for their own health and safety by preparing properly and being aware of the risks.

"Speaking as an individual, I am all in favour of these sorts of events, rather than people just sitting in front of a telly or whatever," he said.

"But people taking part do need to know what they are doing: they need to be hydrated, take plenty of water and food, cover up from the sun and have plenty of salt replacements."

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