Following successful vehicle expeditions to far-eastern Siberia and the extreme north of the UK with ex-soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), two Royal Marines set out on the third ‘Driven to Extremes’ adventure aimed at helping veterans along their ‘road to recovery’ – the gruelling 5 Peaks Challenge.
Whereas some activities such as Polar trekking and Atlantic rowing can allow too much thinking time for those suffering from the mental scars of war, vehicle expeditions can cross continents in a matter of days. The intense exposure to rapidly changing landscapes, climates and cultures bombards the veterans with new and exciting experiences, pushing horrific memories to the back of their minds.
The combination of operating in a remote and challenging environment; having to work as a close-knit team; the relentless pace of travel; the military banter; support within the team, the opportunities to lead and the constant laughs along the way, helps the veterans more than you can imagine.
After 18,000′ of climbing, 1,000 miles of driving, 47 miles trekking and conquering the 5 highest mountains in the UK and Ireland (Carrauntoohill, Slieve Donard, Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis), the team successfully completed the challenge in under 48 hours with just 11 minutes to spare!
It was probably the toughest thing Expedition Leader Mac had done since leaving the military, and due to sponsor filming and photography requirements, it meant that they had to summit Ben Nevis in under 2:30 hrs to complete the challenge in the required time. Most climbers allow 4 to 5 hours to do the same, and all of this after they’d been on the go continuously for 70 hours since leaving the Sandown Mercedes dealership in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Serving Royal Marine, Corporal Daz Davis, had undertaken 6 operational tours and lost some good mates, so for him, PTSD felt like a weakness and that he didn’t deserve to still wear the coveted Green Beret. Undertaking the gruelling 5 Peaks Challenge though, which was both physically and mentally demanding, has given him renewed confidence and self-pride – he still has what it takes to be part of one of the toughest fighting units in the world. The opportunity to challenge himself again and share the experience with a close-knit team provided him with all of the positive elements that military life has to offer. Undertaking the 5 Peaks in a Smart ForTwo city car, that can’t fail to put a smile on your face, was an added bonus in aiding his recovery process!
The cars performed faultlessly, carrying all of their expedition equipment with ease, as they undertook a 2,000-mile whirlwind tour of the UK & Ireland in less than 4 days, before returning to Sandown Mercedes. They cruised effortlessly at speed on the motorways and handled the twisty mountain roads in their stride, all whilst the crew sat in comfort on relaxing heated seats that soothed their aching limbs! The weather was not kind to the team for the majority of the challenge, but they felt safe and secure in the little cars as they pushed on through day and night.
Now that Daz and the 7 other veterans that have been helped so far by joining a vehicle adventure, the next stage is for them to act as Support Crew on following trips, before ultimately leading them. Each stage should help them rekindle the professional leadership skills that they have inside and provide them with renewed confidence.
The 4-day adventure was funded by Sandown Mercedes dealership of Basingstoke and supported with the loan of 2 Smart ForTwo city cars and a new V-Class Marco Polo by Mercedes UK for the film crew to drive. The 6-man support crew from Max Adventure consisted of Expedition Leader, Medic, Cameraman, Drone Pilot, Photographer and Media, all of who gave up their time free of charge to support the veterans.
Driven to Extremes has support from its ambassadors, including Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and motorcycle champion (and King of the Jungle!) Carl Fogerty.