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Adam O'Connor Straight Line Challenge

As you might imagine, the Go Ape tribe are an adventurous bunch who love to create unique challenges. This is exactly what Go Ape Thetford instructor Adam O’Connor and his friend, Ryan, did when they set out on their Straight Line Mission (12km) across Thetford Forest. 

Over to Adam for the full story:  

The idea of a Straight Line Challenge is very simple, you simply mark two points on a map, draw a line between them and stick as close to that line as you can. This can be done on a small scale, like as crossing a forest or village, or on a larger scale such as crossing a county or an entire country.

This adventure was inspired by a YouTuber called GeoWizard who has attempted to cross countries, including Scotland, Wales and Norway. Ryan and I decided to stay local with this challenge and start off with somewhere we know, Thetford Forest, before we go onto any bigger ones.

Thetford Forest is the UK's largest man-made woodland and myself and Ryan started on the southern edge before heading north for 12.5km following our line. There were a couple of areas to avoid, like the military rifle range and the mod defence training area. There is also a train track and a river running straight through the middle of the forest making them totally unavoidable.

We scored our line using Geo Wizard scoring system and aimed for a platinum run, meaning no more than a maximum deviation of 25 meters. 

“I joined Go Ape because of the outdoor environment. I love being out and about, rain or shine. My job previously wasn’t very exciting and wasn’t enjoyable at all so to be part of a fun team while working outside was perfect for me.”

The Highlights

I really enjoyed the river crossing, which was exactly halfway through the mission. A lot of pre-planning went into that section and it really paid off. This may sound silly, but another highlight was just having lunch. It was such hard work and we were on a time limit so stopping for a hot meal at lunch was well deserved.

The Less Glamorous Moments

There were quite a few unexpected obstacles and challenges throughout our journey. The first time we were met by the 6-foot brambles wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world but we made it through. Ryan adapted fairly well to the brambles and soon perfected his technique of climbing on top of them and then collapsing them down. I had an even better technique… go second!

The last couple of miles were also pretty tough, the light was fading fast, our legs were heavy from stepping over brambles and ferns for the last 9 hours and cameras were either dead or about to die. But then, just like that we had done it! Twelve kilometres of brambles, forests, train tracks and a kayak over a river.

At the time we didn't know if we'd stayed within the 25m threshold for a platinum run but deep down we were both fairly confident we'd done it. And too right because we absolutely smashed it!

Watch the video to see the whole adventure:

Adam O’Connor has worked for Go-Ape for about 12 years, mostly at the Go Ape Thetford site, and is now based at head office with the events team.

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