2017 RESULTS COMMENTARY
UK Challenge 2017
Stage 1 – Take off with United Airlines
Stage 1 – Take off with United AirlinesNervous excitement filled the air as teams gathered in the shadow of Stirling Castle, soaking up the incredible backdrop and stunning views but the tranquil setting was soon interrupted by the sounding of a cannon, set off by UK Challenge supporter Jodie Kidd. This signalled a sprint start where nominated team members dashed through Stirling Castle to collect the first part of the challenge – Scrabble tiles made out of the letters from the words ‘Check in’. Much like the real scrabble, the teams had to spell out words using the letters provided – but this isn’t any ordinary game of scrabble as in order to collect points the teams had to visit various checkpoints around Stirling city representing each of the letters and as in the real game double and triple word scores were on offer by solving various puzzles. The points collected resulted in time being taken off the teams total and the key to this was always about collecting triple points for the only 7 letter word available.
Stage 2 – Hero Bear’s Castle Conundrum
Stage 2 – Hero Bear’s Castle ConundrumWith darkness having descended across Stirling, the teams were led into the first ever stage of it’s kind in UK Challenge history. With actors dressed in medieval costume contestants were taken on a journey through the Palace of Skills and Dexterity, the Great Hall Mind Chamber, the Observation Gallery, the Chapel of Answers and last but not least the very eloquently themed Queen Anne Quiz Wall. It was to be a real test of intellect, memory and skill and allow the teams to show their true all round ability. Mentally and physically warmed up this stage sent the teams to bed knowing that the UK Challenge had truly begun.
Stage 3 – Adidas: Climb to the Top
Stage 3 – Adidas: Climb to the TopDescribed by one contestant as possibly the most stunning location ever for a stage start, this was tempered by the reality that to get maximum points teams would need to find 2 volunteers to summit the 3000ft+ munro that is Ben Lomond. But first into the chilly charms of Loch Lomond for the UK Challenge’s first ever Canoe sprint or “canoe carnage” as one competitor called it! Then teams had to select their sports, which involved solving another puzzle, select players associated with those sports and then build their world ranking position by collecting world ranking points. But as ever with the UK Challenge this wasn’t as easy as it sounds as there is always a decision to be made. If a team chose cycling they may then want to include Laura Trott in their stable of players but she happened to be located on the top of Ben Lomond itself. Hmmm well 18 teams did take on the Ben Lomond Challenge and for that they were well rewarded
Stage 4 – Clinigen: The Drug Development Cycle
Stage 4 – Clinigen: The Drug Development CycleAll competitors now understand the drug development cycle very well from clinical trials through to commercialisation but rarely will a pharmaceutical executive have taken that journey in such a pressured environment that involved running, canoeing and cycling! Teams also had to ensure they had the financial backing for each stage which involved the canoeists visiting funding points scattered around the banks of the stunning Loch Ard with the added complication that each funding point had it’s own opening times. The cyclists were ultimately charged with taking the drugs to the right markets at the right time which involved a high degree of co-ordination and planning.
Stage 5 – T-Systems: Cyber Wars
Stage 5 – T-Systems: Cyber WarsThe final day of the UK Challenge and with the early morning mist clearing, teams are faced with the terrible knowledge that the shadowy Cyber Terrorist group, the Holdenauts, have managed to breech Stirling University’s firewalls. Time is critical here as crucial data is slowly being destroyed. Teams are supplied with the T Systems code breaking manual and must collect code fragments from all around campus to crack each virus and stop the loss of data. To make matters worse the “Evil Dr Data” has kidnapped their team captains and if a team wants their Captain back they must give up 10 minutes of time, a valuable commodity at this stage of the competition. Alternatively, they can hope their Captain is able to solve the release puzzle and it is at times like this you get to see the value, or is that trust, teams place in their captain.
Stage 6 – The Wolf of Logie
Stage 6 – The Wolf of LogieThe penultimate stage and teams are joined by their respective senior executives that will test their ability to make the right financial decision and in some instances see how ruthless they can be when negotiating a JV. Will they settle for a 40% share whilst paying 50% or even a 50% share whilst paying 67%, what tactics will they use? With the Airthrey castle site acting as the Directors board room, teams had to run all around campus in order to gain funds, once again solving puzzles of varying difficulty, after which it was down to the senior exec to make the right investment decision at the right time using the information supplied every 10 minutes. Would the shares of Warp Jets really hold up after the test crash? Or what about Eternal Youth and it’s successful clinical trial? Teams now had to rely on the intellect and wisdom of their senior exec!
Stage 7 – Grand Prix
Stage 7 – Grand PrixOne last stage and all seasoned competitors know what to expect but still worry about what lies ahead. There are four brain cells which have the potential to add 40 mins to a teams time not to mention the 10 mins at the start when teams are held unless they solve the traditional “start dingbat”. The route itself is a testing cycle loop including a “wee” climb for 4 members of each team before the final running circuit that 4 of the team must also complete meaning at least 2 members of each team will do both the cycling and the run. The run itself is not long but takes in the peak of Dumyat which rewards those that reach the top with a spectacular view across Stirling. The final brain cell will see the eventual champions leapfrog last years winners by employing an in-depth knowledge of Christmas carols!