Spring 2013 event - Report
After last year's tenth birthday celebrations at the Apex Challenge, we knew we had to start the next decade with something special. So the Apex team pulled out all the stops to run our biggest and most dramatic ever overnight adventure competition, in one of the country's most famous forests.
As teams started to arrive at Sherwood Pines it was clear this event was going to be a real challenge. Even before they had put up their tents, competitors from across the UK were coming face to face with Apex Mountain, a huge towering obstacle which would stand between them and the start of the event. All of that was yet to come though as first there was plenty of planning, eating, meeting and socialising to do as the anticipation grew.
The field started to turn into a sea of pink as this years' distinctive (and exceptionally bright) t-shirts were being worn straight from the shop. It made for quite a sight, but teams were soon realising the colour may not be all that helpful for their night trying to avoid the chasers in the forest.
As the 400 eager teenagers packed into the marquee for the briefing, plans and strategies were already being devised. There were many recognisable faces - people for whom this was their fourth or fifth Apex Challenge event. But for others this was their first Apex experience, and as the presentation started, it was clear they were beginning to realise what they had let themselves in for.
No sooner had the briefing ended, than the event began. Minute-by-minute the teams were racing from the start, heading straight for Apex Mountain. This seven-metre high obstacle was a real challenge where only those who used teamwork, strategy and skill would succeed. Then after a dramatic descent down the north face, they were off on their six hour adventure in the forest.
Teams started racing to the four corners of the playing area. They were hunting down the control points, hastily running away from the Apex chasers, but most of all trying to locate the twelve intense activities, as they tried to increase their score.
From assault courses, to strategy games and inflatables, the activities ranged from the exhausting to the bizarre. Teams were having to race giant caterpillars, attack an armoured fort, take on the wild-west horses and even pop balloons on space hoppers to be rewarded with their Apex points. Elsewhere they were scaling ladders suspended from a disused railway bridge, and taking on a giant inflatable assault course. But wherever it was that they were gathering these points, it was taking real determination and teamwork in order to succeed.
Six hours is a long time to be flat-out, so it was clear why so many teams looked so exhausted as they headed back to event centre. But before they could download their well-earned points, Apex Mountain still stood in their way. This time the mountain had to be scaled in reverse, but the giant slide down the north face led to a dramatic and memorable end to their adventures in the forest.
By now the Apex software was working at full pelt. Announcements welcomed each team back, before an animated map showing the route of each team was broadcast on the big screen. Competitors from the first-timers to the old hands were sharing stories of their night in the forest, as they compared their performance with those just arriving back. Despite the chilly April weather, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming as the now legendary Apex vibe filled the marquee. Everyone was tired, but few wanted to go to bed. The Apex family was enjoying another night together.
By morning the limbs were aching but the sun was shining. And as hundreds of bacon butties were being scoffed, the results were being prepared. Then as everyone packed back into the marquee it was time to reveal how everyone had done. As the countdown ran, and the team names were called out, cheers filled the tent as everyone became increasingly impressed with each others' performance. Then it was time to reveal the winners - and with a dramatic final that wouldn't look out of place on the X-Factor - the champions were named. With prizes for the top three teams in each category, there were plenty of people leaving with solid reminders of their victory at Sherwood. But everyone was heading home with unforgettable memories of their time at the Apex Challenge, and already planning their winning strategy for the next one.
So what was happening out there? Here is a look at the 12 activity bases. How many did you get to?
A: BOUNCING BOMBS
Popping water bombs suspended from above, using a space hopper, and wearing a helmet with a spike attached. Bizarre but true!
B: BIG BUNGEE
One of the most popular inflatable games - running and leaping as far as possible to gain enough points to unlock the punch.
C: CHILD'S PLAY
Taking on a kid's adventure playground in a much more challenging, and much wetter, way!
D: CASTLE SIEGE
Attacking a heavily-armoured fortress without being pelted by the high-powered mortars and canons.
Racing across one of the region's longest inflatable assault courses, where speed and skill combine for success.
Steady hands, good teamwork and perfect communication is needed at this giant version of the steady hand game.
Shooting penalties, Apex style - where tidy footwork and a bit of determination is needed to succeed.
H: THE CLIMB
Scaling a huge wire ladder under a dramatic railway bridge to reach the crucial punch, hanging precariously above.
J: CATERPILLAR TRACKS
Racing a giant caterpillar around this woodland course where mistakes cost time and points.
K: WILD WEST
Riding a wonky donkey through the wild west, shooting targets for the fifty point reward.
L: MUD, SWEAT AND GEARS
Racing through the moonlit mountain bike course, with loads of obscene obstacles, and nearly zero visibility.
M: BOUNCE BACK
A bungee challenge like no other where the team had to work together before the elastic took hold.
Read more from this section
See who's taken the honours at each of our events since autumn 2002
JCH Award winners
Find out who has won our special JCH Award in the past.
Previous event locations
Look back at all the locations used for our previous competitions.
How many exclusive Apex T-shirts are in your collection?
Autumn 2016 event
Three days of adventures and challenges on the Peak District's Eastern Moors.
Spring 2016 event
An unforgettable night-time challenge through the Temple Newsam estate in Leeds.
Autumn 2015 event
The exclusive Harewood House estate welcomes Apex for the first time.
Spring 2015 event
The Apex Challenge returns to Bramham Park in West Yorkshire.
Autumn 2013 event
A military theme at Strensall near York for Apex Special Ops.
Spring 2013 event
Apex returns to Sherwood Pines for a challenge during the night.
Autumn 2012 event
Returning to our first ever location to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
Spring 2012 event
A new location at Bramham Park near Leeds for the first event of 2012.
Autumn 2011 event
A thrilling three days of adventure with the hottest weekend of the year.
Spring 2011 event
The event sells out in record time for a weekend baked in sunshine!
Autumn 2010 event
Brand new activities this year included archery and rifle shooting.
Spring 2010 event
The warmest weather of the year so far for this year's spring challenge.
Autumn 2009 event
Gale force winds add to the excitement on Ilkley Moor.
Spring 2009 event
There were record levels of interest for teams to take part in this event.
Autumn 2008 event
70 teams navigate through Langdale Forest in North Yorkshire.
Spring 2008 event
A new record of 16 activity bases was waiting for our teams.
Autumn 2007 event
Centenary year sees us travel further North than ever to Ilkley Moor.
Autumn 2006 event
First ever three-day Apex sees several new event elements tried out.
Spring 2006 event
Same location but new challenges at Sherwood Pines Forest Park.
Autumn 2005 event
More prizes were given away at this event than ever before.
Spring 2005 event
The overnight event moves to a new location with dense woodland.
Autumn 2004 event
More teams and more activity bases than ever before in Burbage Valley.
Spring 2004 event
Apex Challenge opens up to teams nationwide for the first time.
Autumn 2003 event
Stanage Edge hosted our second daytime challenge event.
Spring 2003 event
Same idea as our first event but this time in the darkness!
Autumn 2002 event
More than 20 teams compete for the honour of being our first winners.