Home SAS Who Dares Wins SAS : Who Dares Wins | Interviews with Male Recruits

SAS : Who Dares Wins | Interviews with Male Recruits

Mark

Age: 31

Profession: Firefighter

Hometown/Region: Yorkshire

Relationship Status: Widower

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins? 

It was good. Better than what I expected it to be and harder than I expected it to be. I know that physically I excelled in there but there wasn’t a point I wasn’t pushing myself to my limit and one of my biggest worries was that I wouldn’t have anything left in the reserve tank for the next task or challenge. But that’s just how I am.  lf I felt like I wasn’t putting everything in then I’d feel like I was cheating myself. I’d have people say to me “it’s alright for you because you’re fit or strong” but it still hurt me just as much and I was still giving it my everything.

Did you find it difficult? Was it more difficult than you expected?

Yes, it was difficult. I don’t think you can get across on TV everything that you go through. Even the smallest things that probably won’t be shown, were the hardest part. I’d say I struggled most when I was sitting around as that is when the anticipation of not knowing set in. That’s something you can’t get across or explain.

This was quite a unique series, the first time female recruits have been permitted to ever join SAS: Who Dares Wins. How does that feel?

It’s good to see this movement because this is what is actually happening in society right now and is the future. I feel privileged that I got to be part of such a huge statement and giving women a platform to prove themselves.

Do you think the women found it harder than the male recruits?

It’s an individual thing, not a gender thing. There were times where I struggled sitting around but that had nothing to do with the fact I’m male. There wasn’t a time where I thought women struggled more in this part or men struggled more in this part, it could have been anyone.

How did you cope with the harsh winter weather conditions?

I used my time productively to make sure my kit was dry. I would heat a mug of water up on the fire which helped a lot. Then the rest is just mindset, knowing you were going to get cold and accepting it was going to be uncomfortable.

You had to share all your space with women for the whole time you were there, including sleeping and toilets. How did you find that?

It was strange how quickly we adapted to it. If anything, I think the men were more worried about the women feeling uncomfortable but they made it easier for us because they just got on with it. I expected that it was going to bother the women more but I changed my mind and they showed how resilient they are.

At any point, did you forget the female recruits were women?

It’s not that I forgot they were women it was more that it just didn’t matter, it wasn’t a thing. The toilet situation or even people getting changed, you didn’t think about it. You had more important things in there to worry about so that went out the window.

Do you think gender makes a difference in this environment?

I think women push the men to give more. I’m still on the fence with it all. Don’t get me wrong, I was amazed how strong the women were, they were stronger than half the men in there. I just think men naturally want to protect women. If I saw a man in pain and a women in pain I would naturally run to the women first. But then again that the man’s problem because it’s not women’s fault that we want to protect, even if they don’t want it. We can spoil women’s opportunities because of our natural instincts.

What made you sign up?

I signed up because I wanted to challenge myself. It was also a distraction and a way to project negative energy into something positive that was going to help me move forward and grow as a person.

Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?

I probably would have done but I’m probably too old now.

What was the best part of the series for you?

Having the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people. In a normal walk of life you would never get to experience it. Also understanding how far I could push myself mentally and how much was really left in the tank when you thought you were done.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy like? 

I thought Ant and I had similar personalities, so I feel like I got on with him. When he spoke it resonated deeper.  There was always a purpose and a reason when he was speaking. The DS, I felt humanised themselves a bit more but that’s probably because they had roles which allowed them to do that. They were all very special and you really respect what they have done.

Would you ever do it again?

Yes. Some of the stuff you did was like the best thing and the worst thing all at the same time. It’s a weird feeling wanting to go back but there is something in pushing yourself to the limit. It’s something you naturally crave. The bonds you make with the other recruits is what you really miss. You feel like no one else really understands it and you can’t explain it to them.

 

Milo

Age: 25

Profession: Water Engineer

Hometown: South West of England

Relationship Status: In a relationship

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins? 

It was the best and worst two weeks of my life. I have been physically challenged and mentally challenged before, but bringing the two together has been a totally different ball game, let alone the other factors such as the freezing climate, limited food, water and sleep. Waiting around between each task… I have never known anticipation like it..it was draining. That was arguably the hardest part of the whole thing… every minute of down time felt like an hour…just wondering what is going to happen next. It has definitely been a journey of self discovery….of both my limitations and my capabilities. My confidence has grown second to none, and my ability to adapt to different surroundings is a quality I never knew I had. I have met some great people with difficult pasts, and I have learnt that the key to unity is to keep an open mind, and never judge a book by its cover.

Did you find it difficult? Was it more difficult than you expected?

I tried not to think about what to expect too much beforehand, because I knew I had to have a focused mindset going into it. But I knew it was going to be challenging and different from anything else I have faced before. Looking back now, nothing at home can prepare you for something that intense, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

This was quite a unique series, the first time female recruits have been permitted to ever join SAS: Who Dares Wins. How does that feel?

It was not something I even thought about. Although I was intrigued to meet everyone, to see their different characters and how they got there.

Do you think the women found it harder than the male recruits?

As a majority, yes. Some individuals more so than others. Some of the women seemed to struggle with carrying weight, usually because they were smaller and had to do exactly the same as the rest of us. But, their grit and determination in other areas were a lot stronger than the guys at times.

How did you cope with the harsh winter weather conditions?

It was a case of mind over matter. If I thought about being warm, I would feel warm. If I dwelled over being cold too much, the worse I would feel. If you put things to one side in your mind, you can focus your concentration on other things. Sometimes it was overwhelming, but you have to keep reminding yourself of those things.

You had to share all your space with women for the whole time you were there, including sleeping and toilets. How did you find that?

It felt unnatural at first, due to the social norms in the UK. But it didn’t take long to get used to.

At any point, did you forget the female recruits were women?

Yes, we were all one to be honest. At first, I naturally thought they were going to struggle more, but as the days went on, I realised their place here was just as good as mine.

Do you think gender makes a difference in this environment?

It’s not so much gender that makes a difference, but body size and mental strength.

Have you ever done anything like this before?

Not on this level, but I have been physically and emotionally challenged before – my first triathlon was Iron Man Wales which threw me straight in the deep end.

What made you sign up?

My brother Corbin egged me on to sign up, because he knew it was a dream for me to join the Royal Marines growing up. Having been in the Army himself, he recognised qualities and potential in me to do well. Obviously, a huge part of it is to do with the passing of my eldest brother Travis.  I have always felt the need to fill that empty hole with achievement, and I wanted to make him proud.

Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?

I have thought about it.

What was the best part of the series for you?

Dinner…only joking. I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so being at high altitude doing various tasks didn’t seem too much of a burden to me, more like an adventure.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy like? 

They are all very different. They had a presence about them… they didn’t have to do too much talking for you to know you had to be at your best. However, the talking they did was straight to the point…no messing around. Ant was ruthless… There was no room for mistakes and you’d sure know about it if you made one. Billy was a character, he often took the piss out of us in a funny way, but you could tell he had so much experience. Ollie was the softer DS, I couldn’t help but feel he had empathy for us..maybe a bit of nostalgia for him. Foxy was the quiet one, but he is the last person you would want to piss off. I remember glancing at him for a second as I was taking a piss and he said “what the fuck are you looking at?” Despite all of that, everything they said, no matter how it came across, was all to help you become a better recruit and learn from the experience.

Would you ever do it again?

I would do it again tomorrow on two conditions…there is central heating and a double bed!

 

Nathaniel

Age: 27

Profession: Student

Hometown: East Midlands

Relationship Status: In a relationship.

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins? 

It was the best experience of my life, a once in a lifetime experience, but I think I will be doing a lot more adrenaline things and sightseeing to fill me with the same happiness.

Did you find it difficult?

Not physically I’m very fit. I trained hard for it but going in with mental health problems with the added mental games was tough to balance

This was quite a unique series, the first time female recruits have been permitted to ever join SAS: Who Dares Wins. How does that feel?

It feels good to be a part of history at a time when the women will be allowed to join the Special Forces.

Do you think the women found it harder than the male recruits?

I think all the recruits found it hard, I think the best of the best was picked for this show.

How did you cope with the harsh winter weather conditions?

When you’re there, even though you feel the cold, you have a different mindset because you don’t want to let the DS down.

You had to share all your space with women for the whole time you were there, including sleeping and toilets. How did you find that?

The toilet situation was awkward and quite uncomfortable, but we were all a family sharing that hut. It felt like having sisters.

At any point, did you forget the female recruits were women?

I didn’t see gender on the SAS, only friends.

Do you think gender makes a difference in this environment?

No, everyone who made it through selection was elite.

What made you sign up?

I wanted to push myself to my limits mentally as I don’t want my health to hold me back from achieving greatness.

Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?

If I was able to I would.  Who wouldn’t want to be representing your country at the top?

What was the best part of the series for you?

Facing my demons head on and overcoming my fears.  The DS made me feel like I was bulletproof.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy like?

Ant is better in person.  He is down to earth and actually cares about your wellbeing. The time that man spent with me explaining what I need to do to get mentally better was priceless. Foxy is my idol. Ollie is a fitness freak and Billy is the scary one on camera but he has a heart of gold.

Would you ever do it again?

Hell yeah, sign me up today.

 

Rick

Age: 33

Profession: Lawyer

Hometown: North West of England

Relationship Status: Married with a child

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins?  

It was probably one of the most rewarding and difficult experiences I have ever had. I met some fantastic friends and the bonds we formed in such adverse conditions will stay with me for life. During the experience, I learned a lot about my personality, my insecurities, why I am as I am and where my drive to succeed comes from. In that sense it was an enlightening experience and made me confront areas of my own personality that I tend to repress.

Did you find it difficult? Was it more difficult than you expected?

Physically it was as tough as expected. I train hard every day and compete at a high level of CrossFit so I felt prepared for the physicality. From a mental/psychological point of view I found it much tougher than I expected. I consider myself to be a resilient individual and good at turning negative scenarios into successes. However, during the process I had to confront demons about acceptance and validation that I have ignored since I was a child that stem from years of bullying. I found this quite emotional at times and I think the DS recognised that my driving force is due to my emotions surrounding acceptance. Having identified this, I felt this part of my personality was specifically tested.
This was quite a unique series, the first time female recruits have been permitted to ever join SAS: Who Dares Wins. How does that feel?

I believe in meritocracy in all areas. If you are good enough you should be allowed to do it regardless of sex, age, race etc. I was interested to see how women would fare in circumstances that would traditionally be seen to favour male traits such as size and physical strength.
Do you think the women found it harder than the male recruits?

Yes and No. In some respects I believe they did, particularly in solely physical challenges. This was because the weights that we were required to carry were not scaled or adjusted for the size/weight of the individual. This meant that some of the smaller women were having to carry loads that were the same as the men who were twice their size. This created a natural disadvantage due to the size to weight ratio of some of the female recruits. In other respects, I think the women were just as capable, if not more so, particularly in the teamwork and problem solving tasks. I think having females in the group often lead to a more collaborative approach and diffused some of the ego that you may expect to find in a group of typical alpha males.
How did you cope with the harsh winter weather conditions?

The weather conditions were tough as you had to manage your layering appropriately for the level of activity and exposure any given task involved. This meant that regulating your body temperature was a constant battle. You would go from roasting whilst exercising to freezing cold as soon as you stopped. This added a tough element to an already gruelling process. In addition we had to contend with exposure to freezing waters and this meant managing your kit appropriately. Making sure you always had dry kit available and that it was appropriately packed so if you were submerged unexpectedly it would remain dry. A few recruits fell foul of this on occasions and this lead to some pretty hairy situations which could quickly have proved fatal in a real combat situation.

You had to share all your space with women for the whole time you were there, including sleeping and toilets. How did you find that?

The fact that there were men and women in there very quickly became a non-issue. Within a couple of hours, I certainly put gender aside and viewed each and every person as a fellow recruit only. Some of the funniest times were when we were all sat on the toilets first thing in the morning chatting away and watching the views from the open air toilets or stood in your pants trying to dry your wet kit around the fire. I think that gender in such an intense environment really became irrelevant.
At any point, did you forget the female recruits were women?

Almost immediately.  Gender went out of the window within hours. Everyone mucked in in the same way. It is so hard to exist in that environment that you have no time to think about or make allowances for gender. You are there to get the job done and that means that you have to get on with things without airs and graces. The women were exactly the same. There were no diva moments or allowances expected. They were beasts each and every one of them.
Do you think gender makes a difference in this environment?

Initially I believed it would. I felt that the harsh realities of existing in a forward operating base might hinder the female recruits more than the men as we had no showers or amenities, sanitation was at a minimum. We had to burn the waste from the toilets daily which involved carrying great barrels of effluent. However, the women on the show were just as resilient as the men in this respect and actually probably organised the lads better than we would have coped in our own. Indeed living in such an extreme environment involves very good personal admin and I think the women performed at a higher level in this respect and made the men better for it.

Have you ever done anything like this before?

I have travelled extensively including trekking and rough camping, but this was another level entirely. There are very few experiences as a civilian that I can imagine that would put you in such a physically demanding and more so, psychologically demanding environment. This course was designed to break the toughest people and the DS are masters of their craft in this regard.

What made you sign up?

Having been severely bullied as a child I have always had a drive to succeed which allows me to endure things that 99% of people wouldn’t. It allowed me to qualify as a barrister at 22 years old having been written off as “not academic” at school and to reach a level of success at work and fitness that few people achieve. I now understand, however, that I do this because I feel the need to prove myself constantly rather than because of the success it actually brings. The course made me understand this facet of my personality and made me appreciate that my motivation can actually be damaging to me on an emotional level.
Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces? 

I loved the course.  However, the challenge of the selection process is one thing, but the realities of the job are another. Having spoken to the DS both on the show and afterwards, the rewards of the job most definitely come at a price and I am not sure I could step over the lines of humanity that are required when in a conflict situation.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy like?  

Tough task masters, brilliant motivators and ruthlessly efficient …. and after the show had finished, they were warm and supportive!
Would you ever do it again?

Where do I sign up for next series?!!

 

Samuel

Age: 26

Profession: Personal Trainer/ Gym co-owner

Hometown/Region: South East of England

Relationship Status: In a relationship

Tell me about your experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins? 

Taking on the SAS: Who Dares Wins course was a huge challenge for me.  I was walking into unknown territories physically and to make matters worse I only had two and half months to get ready for it. From the very first day of the course I knew I had a big challenge ahead of me.  Moving around in high altitude has a big impact on you.  It’s like putting a carrier bag over your head and breathing through small pin like holes.

Meeting the Ds felt like we had just entered hell.  Ant helped secure that feeling each time we encountered with him.  Everything from how he spoke to you, to the looks he gave and words he used, reinstalled fear into the little spec of confidence you had built the night before.

Throughout the process, each night I lay in bed and just said to myself “just make it through the next day.” As the process went, on my confidence was building each day, which made me more fearless and I began believing that I could actually it make to the final day.

Did you find it difficult? Was it more difficult than you expected?

The course had its challenges.  For me it was more on the physical side. I found it difficult to make my body work at the capacity I wanted it to. This forced me to quickly adopt a new way of thinking. My aim was not to be the first and best at everything because that was just not going to happen. I turned the process into an exercise routine in my head, which meant that the more I pushed past my limitations the better I would become. This helped me get better at handling acclimatization.

This was quite a unique series, the first time female recruits have been permitted to ever join SAS: Who Dares Wins. How does that feel?

The idea to add women into the show was great. I believe it will have a massive impact on how men see and understand women but not only that, I think it will also open other women up to exploring their own capabilities. Having women take part in the course helped me understand the different motivations behind their action and also how truly strong they are. When you’re in there, it gets to a point where you no longer see it as man and woman, you all just become one.

Do you think the women found it harder than the male recruits?

I do not think women found it more difficult than men, it was quite balanced in that sense.

How did you cope with the harsh winter weather conditions?

On the first day we where on our knees on a bed of snow. Even though this was less than five minutes, it felt like forever. I began imagining my skin was turning blue just because of how cold this snow was. No matter how much you wrapped up, there were never moments where you felt warm enough.

You had to share all your space with women for the whole time you were there, including sleeping and toilets. How did you find that?

Sharing your space with women at the beginning seemed strange, as you were surrounded by strangers, plus they were women. I tired to create some structure for the toilets knowing that this was an important area when it comes to different genders, but after a day the structure was forgotten and everyone became one. Men used the ladies section and vice versa. Out of respect to my partner, I tired to avoid being overly exposed around the women but sometimes you just had to do what you had to do.

At any point, did you forget the female recruits were women?

I always saw them as women but I never felt like I had to treat or care for them in a different way from how I saw and dealt with the men. They were very feminine but they didn’t ever come across like they needed extra support.

Do you think gender makes a difference in this environment?

Gender makes no difference in my eyes, I think it’s all about strength and experience.  That’s what made the difference.

Have you ever done anything like this before?

I had no experience in this field of training. Prior to the show. I had been training as a bodybuilder.

What made you sign up?

I signed up to remind my brother how capable we are as humans and also to build new mindset skills.

Now that you have this experience, would you like to join the real Special Forces?

As much as I respect what they do I do not see myself ever join the forces.

What was the best part of the series for you?

The best part for me was carrying the log up the hill. Knowing that I actually achieved that was a great feeling.

What were Ant, Foxy, Ollie and Billy like? 

On the surface the DS are an usual bunch.  You can never be fully at ease around them, even when they are handing you a chocolate bar.  They are almost not human. Every now and again you would see them cracking a joke between themselves, which reminds you that they are just like you which makes you respect them even more. Ant is the philosopher, Ollie is the gadget man that can make anything out of anything, Billy is the hard rock that survives any storm and Foxy is the friendly giant who you never take your eye off.

Would you ever do it again?

I don’t think I would do it again as I feel like I have fulfilled the reason why I went on the show in the first place.

 

Cameron

Age: 19

Profession: Warehouse worker and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter

Hometown: Merseyside

Relationship status: Single

Cameron is an amateur MMA fighter in his spare time.

On his experience: “The experience was great, the things we did were amazing… times were tough in there but I loved it because I got to show my character and show what I’m all about and just be me. I learnt a lot about myself and I know things that I need to work on and also I overcame a fear of heights when I was climbing up that mountain. I was terrified but it didn’t matter how scared I was, I went forward and did it.”

 

James

Age: 34

Profession: PR Director

Hometown/Region: South East of England

Relationship Status: Single

Since a lengthy recovery from a broken neck sustained playing rugby, James has been determined to explore the capabilities of his body. To him, the course an incredible opportunity to further his journey.

On his experience: “SAS: Who Dares Wins was brutal and exhilarating in equal measures. Few will ever come close to experiencing such a punishing and yet thrilling few days in such a spectacular setting. Being thrust into an environment that involves such stress for such a prolonged period of time – including some mountainous highs and crushing lows – allows you to realise potential you never knew you had and push limits further than you thought possible. It was undoubtedly the most exhilarating experience of my life… It was a privilege to be involved. I count myself very lucky to be one of only 100 people (over four series) who have EVER done something like this.”

 

James

Age: 39

Profession: Personal Trainer

Hometown/Region: North West of England

Relationship Status: In a relationship.

James has tried numerous times to get into the forces (army/navy) but has been unsuccessful because he suffers from asthma.  He is an adventurous person and enjoys challenging himself by taking part in charity- sponsored expeditions. He wanted to take part in the series to prove he was capable.

On the female recruits: “Some of the female recruits were tougher than the men! They were strong!”

 

Michael

Age: 36           

Profession: Actor and Author

Hometown/Region: South West of England

Relationship Status: Partner with two children.

Michael wanted to take part in the course to challenge himself and prove he is good enough to join the military. He wants to show the world that you it’s possible to “take on stress and strain and emerge triumphant.”

 

Qashif

Age: 34

Profession: Data Engineer

Hometown/Region: Yorkshire

Relationship Status: Married with three children

Qashif wanted to take part in the series as his grandfather was in the Kashmir army and he wanted to experience what his grandfather did in order to understand the struggles that he went through. He was also interested to see how mentally and physically strong he is up against others, and he feels has disciplined his mind enough to do it.

On his most memorable experience on SAS: Who Dares Wins: “The ambush and leading up to the camp, that whole experience you can’t describe in many words but it was something different and an experience that l will always remember.”

 

Richard

Age: 33

Profession: Firefighter and dream boy

Hometown: Wales

Relationship Status: Married with one child.

Richard is a fire fighter and also a dancer in the male strip group, Dream Boys.

The best part of the series for him: “The unity and friendship that’s been created from such a unique experience that only 25 of us can say we shared… If I could do it all over again I’d do it in a heart beat.”

 

Stacy

Age: 44

Profession: Wood Machinist

Hometown/Region: East Midlands

Relationship Status: Married with one child

Stacy is the oldest recruit to take part this year.  He wanted to join the series to prove that he has what it takes, When he was younger, he wanted to join the Marines, but careers advisors advised him that he would need some qualifications in order to be considered, so never applied. He wanted to join the series to experience what that might have been like.

On his experience: “My experience in SAS: Who Dares Wins was a mixture of sheer joy and sheer dread coupled with adrenaline and fatigue, all rolled into one.  In a nut shell, it was the best and worst thing I’ve ever done..”