107 Aberdeen Squadron Air Cadets
Location: Activities -> Scottish Poisk -> Poisk 2007

Scottish Poisk 2007

News release - full details: Scottish Poisk website

On the 4th June 2005 one of Aberdeen Wing’s Civilian Instructors, (and an ex cadet) Di Gilbert, stood on top of the world. Di returned from Everest with one of her Russian Poisk oxygen cylinders and presented it to Aberdeen Wing for the creation of a trophy; the only criteria being it had to be for adventure training and it had to represent the same spirit of adventure that saw Di standing on the summit of Mount Everest.  And so the idea of The Scottish Poisk was born.

On the weekend of 22nd-24th June 2007 cadets from throughout the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Wing rose to the challenge set before them by Di herself and many of the local volunteer staff.  The Scottish Poisk, a 2 day endurance event would see 12 teams biking, walking, running, abseiling and navigating their way across 120km of challenging terrain through the Eastern Cairngorms.  Until Friday night, in the true spirit of endurance events, none of the competitors knew where they would be racing!  On the Friday night Di addressed the cadets and made it clear that they were in for a challenging event "Make sure you get plenty of sleep in preparation for tomorrow, you are going to need it!”

After a 06:00 wakeup call on Saturday morning the event started at Mar Lodge near Braemar.  The weather was fine and dry and all teams got off to a good start for the first mountain biking stage taking them around the Lynne of Quoich. There was little time for rest as the teams began their second stage – a gruelling 8km walk/run taking through the Invercauld Estate.  By the time the first teams arrived at the end of the second stage the weather had turned against the competitors and the faithful waterproofs were put to good test! Proceeding through the next mountain biking stage the weather continued to deteriorate, but this didn’t stop the cadets from giving it their all with huge smiles on their faces.

The 107 sqn team
The 107 sqn team

The 4th and arguably toughest stage of the day was a challenging up hill walk/run from Easter Balmoral over Glen Gelder to Loch Muick.  That started in torrential rain early in the afternoon with the wet weather getting worse by the minute.  By this point a few teams were pulling away from the rest with some very fast times over the various stages. Once arriving at Loch Muick the teams had a very short time period in which to mount their bikes and begin the final 32km bike stage of the day.

Hot soup, macaroni cheese and stovies
Hot soup, macaroni cheese and stovies

At around 19:00 the first teams began arriving at the finishing point, near the Glentanar Visitors Centre at Aboyne.  The times for day one were extremely close, minutes separated the top few teams! The teams covered 77km on Saturday alone and to put that into perspective, that is roughly the same distance covered on a 4 day Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition.

The accommodation for the evening was the campsite at Glentanar, and due to the continuing rain the campsite was rather wet to say the least, but as many of the cadets commented, they were just looking forward to getting their tents pitched, having some dinner and getting to sleep!

During the night the rain had continued and on Sunday morning a meeting of all the staff was held to discuss the planned events for the second day.  After considering possible alternative routes the decision was taken to cancel the days events. Di said "As much as we’d all like to continue with the event, safety, safety, safety are the 3 key words and we have to cancel the second day for this reason.”  The cadets were disappointed to not be able to compete but relieved that they would be heading for dryer surroundings imminently!

The entire camp was dismantled and everyone headed back to the cadet squadron in Banchory to dry out, calculate the times for day one and have some well deserved grub. During the presentation ceremony Di revealed that "All I wanted was for one team to finish the event just to prove it could be done” in the end 7 teams completed day one of the event, "far more than I could have ever hoped for" she commented.

Joint male team winners with Di Gilbert
Joint male team winners with Di Gilbert

The female category was won by The Bumble Bees from 107 (Aberdeen) squadron who put up a feisty challenge and were quicker than many of the male teams. The mixed category was won by The Mighty 36 from 2368 (Aberdeen Airport) squadron but it was in the male category where the competition was really close, in fact no-one could have predicted just how close the times would have been.  The 3rd place team Bring Home the Bacon from 877 (Inverurie) squadron completed day one in just over 8 and a half hours, but the competition for first place was even more impressive, in fact 2 teams completed the day with exactly the same time of 7 hrs 33mins, something event organiser Sqn Ldr Joan Gilbert-Stevens couldn’t have imagined happening "we thought the weather might have slowed them down a bit but in fact the two winning teams completed the event in the estimated fastest possible time set down before the event".  The winning teams were The Wasps from 107 (Aberdeen) Squadron and Artificial Endurance from 102 (Dyce) Squadron.  Both teams were jointly presented with the Scottish Poisk Trophy and will have the honour of being the first ever teams to win the award.

Reflecting on the event as a whole Sqn Ldr Gilbert-Stevens said "it was a shame that the weather spoiled the plans for day two but the cadets and the staff had a fantastic time and we feel we have really met the ultimatum set by Di to create a challenging event and lived up to the Air Cadet Motto 'to foster the spirit of Adventure'.  Next year we may consider rolling out to Air Cadets across Scotland and Northern Ireland, but for now we are all going to take a well deserved rest and reflect on a brilliant weekend."