Autumn 2015 event - Report
With vast open lakes, mysterious derelict castles and dense foreboding woodland, the Harewood Estate proved an incredible setting for this Autumn's Apex Challenge. And with so many equally impressive activities taking place right through the weekend, it was no wonder there was such an amazing atmosphere amongst the 400 young adventurers taking part.
The historic grounds were quickly filling up on Friday night as teams arrived from right across the UK. After passing through the huge Apex gateway, tents were being pitched, maps studied and tactical plans hatched as the 100 teams prepared for the weekend ahead. The sounds of team names were echoing around the estate as our sound system personally welcomed each team as they signed in. Supper was already being served from the Apex Café as the first event briefing drew nearer.
With lights, fireworks and a stomach-busting soundtrack the first presentation got underway. With more than 500 people packing into the marquee, the format of the weekend's activities was explained. But there was no time to contemplate what lay ahead as the events started right away.
Teams were soon racing over the huge inflatable assault course as they started their 60-minute 'Apex Intense' event – a sprint version of what was to come. But as teams scoured the moonlit grounds of Harewood House for Apex Points, an army of chasers were out to track them down and steal points back. Many teams managed to return while evading capture, but other weren't so lucky. As the early hours drew in, teams were getting to their tents to grab what sleep they could before the main event.
As Saturday dawned, the activity teams were out in force, building ropes courses, delivering sledges and launching canoes. Back at Event Centre, teams were putting the finishing touches to their event strategies, and then one-by-one they set off.
With six hours ahead of them they started their Apex adventure. From archery to rifle shooting, caving to canoeing, there were 14 tough activities to complete. But it wasn't just about the physical, they found their skills, teamwork and mental agility were being tested just as much as their athletic strength.
Navigation was proving difficult as teams plotted their own routes around the vast estate. All they time, they were picking up extra credits as they downloaded points onto their electronic tags.
Then there was the infamous parrot. Dozens of teams managed to track the wild bird down, getting an impressive 75 points for each capture. Some even managed the elusive 'double parrot'!
As teams started returning, the results programme was swinging into action. Competitors returned over the inflatable obstacle course to be instantly greeted with an animated map of the route and an ever-evolving leaderboard on the screen.
It was clear many were feeling the strain after six hours of intense activities, but there was no time to rest. Straight after tea, the results so far were revealed – and then it was time for Saturday Night Live – live music and a renowned DJ to take the event well into Saturday night. The music was fantastic and the atmosphere impressive as 400 adventurers partied through the night. It was a fun but exhausting end to an exhausting day, and it was little wonder the campsite was much quieter on this second night.
Then on Sunday it was the finale, time for the Apex Adventure Race – a brand new 5K route packed with obstacles for teams to complete. After an energetic mass warm-up the first teams were setting off – 20 at a time – to take on the toughest Apex course ever.
More than 12 obstacles packed the route including scramble nets, the mangle, walls, grovels, climbs and an impressive water splash. As teams made their way across rivers, down tracks, and through undergrowth the spirit and enthusiasm was clear to see. This was as tough as adventure events get, yet the Apex spirit shone through as every team completed the challenge.
Then it was time to relax before the crowds headed back into the marquee for the results. With cheers and smiles, everyone discovered how they had done and every team found out how their performance had compared to everyone else's. Prizes were given out, and tactics compared before each team left with their own personalised results pack.
As the camping field cleared and everyone started heading back to their own part of the UK, it was clear the Apex Challenge team had done it again. It has been another incredible event with the sort of atmosphere you can only get at the Apex Challenge. Now, let's do it all again next year!
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.