Op Fan Dance

Men's Health Editor takes on a 15 mile UKSF Selection phase with Louis, Staz & our elite ambassadors

Standing just shy of 3,000 feet above sea level, Pen y Fan looms menacingly over the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. Known as ‘The Fan Dance’, the gruelling weighted march from top to bottom marks an iconic stage of UK Special Forces selection. Those who complete the 24km trek in under four hours, carrying the customary 27kg weight on their back, are inducted into some of the finest fighting military units in the world.

"The Fan Dance has always been there, ever since the old boys were up and down. They’ve never tweaked the route or the weight. The DS have 20-odd marches they can choose from the rest of the course here. But you know when heading into selection that you’re one hundred percent going up Pen y Fan. It’s written into the hills."

OP Fan Dance


ThruDark co-Founders Louis and Staz will deploy to Pen y Fan and introduce a civilian journalist to the Fan Dance, shedding a light on the endeavour through adversity that built the foundations of ThruDark. Co-Founders Louis and Staz will be joined by ThruDark ambassadors including former SBS operator Jason Fox, Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton and former England rugby captain Dylan Hartley. Current ThruDark products will also be put to the test in the range of conditions and challenges that mar the Fan Dance.

"It is this capacity to grin at the spectre of pain and fatigue that is the true power of ThruDark and its ambassadors."

OP Fan Dance


Product design and development is an ongoing process at ThruDark. The current ThruDark range will be tested on the Fan Dance. A civilian journalist will insert with the ThruDark team to prepare an article for Men’s Health magazine.


Scheme of Manoeuvre

The team ascend the West slope of Pen y Fan and drop down into the valley below, from here the climb to the summit is slow and arduous as the weight takes its toll. Once the summit has been reached, the team continues down Jacob’s Ladder (known for its treacherous stone path) before reaching the Roman road below.

"Then we arrive at the foot of Jacob’s Ladder. From the East, it grasps upwards at the clear blue sky, the shingle and rocky outcrops serving only to tenderise my quads for the staircase. Each step feels like a weighted lunge, with the different sizes and depths of the huge treads stealing the gift of rhythm."

Constructed nearly 2,000 years ago for use by one of the most elite fighting forces in human history, the Roman road now bears the weight of hopeful recruits looking to join today’s military elite. Once at the bottom, the team retraces their tracks back up Jacob’s Ladder on the Eastern side of ‘the Fan’ before summiting the peak for a second time. Without stopping for respite or to admire the view, the team’s final descent heads West where the march ends.

"I have massive respect to those who put their bodies to the test to become elite soldiers."


OP Fan Dance


"The ThruDark motto is ‘Endeavour Through Adversity’. It’s what I learn going there and back again on the Fan Dance and it’s what I take with me on the long drive back home. You don’t need to be in the Special Forces or running a timed march with the weight of a large child on your back to benefit. Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes, in all spheres of our lives. And it seems to me that endeavouring to overcome it is more vital now than it ever has been before."

All current ThruDark products pass the Fan Dance with flying colours. Any tweaks and adjustments are considered and reported back to ThruDark Product Master for further development.

The ThruDark team has demonstrated the grit and determination that has helped define the careers of elite special forces operators and athletes. The same endeavour through adversity that is now used to drive the ThruDark brand forward.


A Dance With The Devil

The civilian journalist, having endured the notorious ‘Fan Dance’, was able to gather enough intel to prepare his article.

"It’s not brand speak. It’s an ethos that we all stood by in the Special Boat Service and it bleeds into everything we do. There is so much in the outdoors for us to challenge ourselves with and find that invaluable connection between the physical and mental that you only achieve by pushing your boundaries. You don’t have to fake something if it’s real." - Staz, ThruDark Co-Founder

Read more via the Men's Health Website - A Dance with the Devil: An MH Editor Took on a 15-Mile Special Forces Selection.