October 2012 - Sussex Downsman
On Saturday 6th October 1st Crawley made its first appearance at the biggest and most infamous Scout hiking competition in Sussex ‘The Sussex Downsman Hike’ which has been running since 1967. We managed to put in three teams for our first try at this day of speed hikes with classes that range in length from 15 to 80 miles.

Although the preceding night was very wet, the rain stopped just before the start, leaving behind mist that broke up to reveal a sunny day with a slight chill in the air. Perfect hiking conditions in fact.

Team A started at 8.20am from Bignor Hill and attempted the 25 mile race (Class S). However, as they were only a three-man team they were obliged to walk the whole way together, as opposed to the norm, which is to have 4 to a team with one team member resting at all times and everyone in the team walking 19 miles. Our guys had very little rest and managed to cover 17 miles together, without any leaders. They finally pulled out at Steyning Bowl.
In attempting this race Team A were up against teams of their own age who know the route well and have done it all before. They are experienced and confident and are trying to beat their own personal records every time. In comparison our team were taking on the complete unknown and personally I am very pleased with their first brave attempt. They have broken the ice for 1st Crawley and will always be remembered as our first team to have a go.

Team B and Team C (made up of adults) set off at midday from Steyning Bowl and both teams hiked the shorter 15 mile 'Downsman Open' together. Unfortunately, after about 10 miles our new leader Donna got a very painful muscle strain and had stop at Saddlescombe. This was the first hike she had been on for a long time and despite the injury she did extremely well, showing true grit and giving the boys lots of help and encouragement.
Being pushed by the adult leaders the whole way worked well and Team B managed a very fair 5.5 hours to cover the 15 miles and could quite possibly have done it a lot faster!

Our service crew consisted of the very capable Tim in the minibus and a fantastic job he did too, flying about all over the Downs doing the work of 2 crews all by himself. He covered over 170 miles during the day.

Despite a few small teething problems, from which we have all learned a lot, 1st Crawley has been seen at this important hiking event for the very first time... ever! That alone made the whole exercise worthwhile but come the 2013 event I expect us to be far better prepared and much more competitive and in the future I hope we will enter more of the classes and give the other teams a good run for their money.

Well done all and roll on next year!