Ilfracombe Star Trek night walk

StarTrek - Its History

What is StarTrek?
For Ilfracombe Rotary Club it is an event which is organised annually and is now one of the largest fund raising events done by any Rotary Club in Great Britain. StarTrek is a team orienteering nightwalk which takes place over a weekend in late February or early March.

When and why was StarTrek born?
The idea for StarTrek started in 1990 when a small group of our club members attended a similar fund raising event.
They came away enthused and discussed and expanded the idea of holding a similar, but much larger, event themselves to raise money for local charities. After a great deal of discussion with other club members and a huge amount of organising, StarTrek was born in March 1992.

Why is it called StarTrek?
Quite simply they thought the name would catch the imagination of every one.

How much money did it raise in the beginning and how was this spent?
The first one raised the sum of £10,000 and right from the very beginning the two main charities supported were North Devon Hospice and the Devon Children’s Hospice. A small amount was retained to enable Ilfracombe Rotary Clubs to support other smaller local charities during the following year. This has been the case ever since.

How many teams take part ?
In the first event, twenty. This has grown year on year and recently has reached approximately 100 teams entered (about 550 walkers).

How many people manage the event?
In the beginning we do not know the exact number, but it is thought about 60. This was made up from club members, partners and friends and St John’s Ambulance. At that time it was very much a 'suck it and see' situation. Today the organisation of the event is very efficiently and professionally done with over 120 people involved in setting up the event, running it and then clearing up.

How much money is raised?
From very small beginnings of £10,000 raised to a recent year’s total of £62,000, now including gift aid. We estimate that in total the StarTreks have raised in excess of £750,000.

Where was the first course?
The first course was based at Hunters Inn on Exmoor. Since then there has been a different course every year. It has only been cancelled once. This was due to foot and mouth in 2001.

What type of course is it?
The course varies every year, but it always sticks to public bridleways, footpaths and lands were prior permission of the owners have been obtained for use on the night and for preparation leading up to the event.

How long is the course ?
Again this changes every year, but ranges from 8 to 16 miles. There are now two options, the full trek which is about 14-16 miles long, and the half trek which is about 8 miles long.

How do we know if people are lost or injured?
We have three search and rescue teams at the event equipped with four-wheel drive vehicles. All members of the search and rescue teams have been involved with the preparation of the course, having walked the route and set the clues. Raynet provide communications for the event and two-way transmission sets are provided, they also provide cover on the night. Each circuit of the figure of eight has checkpoints which check in every team against their start time. If a team is late everyone necessary is alerted. The walkers are usually never more than 2 miles from some form of help or shelter. They could just be slow or have taken a wrong turn.

What health and safety precautions are taken?
A full written risk assessment is carried out on the event each year. This is lodged with the Secretary of the StarTrek Committee.
On the night we have paramedics and St John Ambulance on duty.

Each team consists of 4 to 6 walkers. Minimum age 16 with an adult. They must have the equipment specified by StarTrek or they will not be allowed to start. If a team member drops out there must be at least 3 in the team for them to continue. Sometimes teams are amalgamated to allow them to continue.

When does planning for the event start?
Following the very first debrief of the event! But probably in earnest immediately after the team prize presentations which are held later in the year.

How long does it take to set up the course?
About ten months. The actual course is a closely guarded secret. Only a few people are responsible for setting up the course.
The base camp is the first consideration. This has to be large enough to accommodate HQ, catering and feeding point, control point etc.
An added consideration is parking for a very large number of vehicles. Once the base has been arranged the route is discussed, permissions are obtained and then the course is finally set. Club members are asked to walk the route in parts and answer the same questions that have been set. If they can do it so can the walkers on the night! Just before the event begins, the course is walked again and the clues checked.

Who controls the event and how?
HQ is staffed by Rotarians experienced in StarTrek. They are the ones who control all aspects of the event on the day. They ensure co-ordination and correct communication between checkpoints, the organisation and distribution of the team paper time slips at the start, change over and finish, teams delayed in reporting or dropping out, informing search and rescue with all the correct information, all aspects of transport, checking that control points have correct instructions as to how they must function.

How much does it cost?
An army marches on its stomach and so does this event!
Last year we provided a thousand pasties and 500 butties, together with copious amounts of liquid refreshment. Having supplied all the food we need to supply lots of porta loos!!

There is a ton of equipment carried in and out to provide food, heating, lighting, shelter etc.. Caravans, horseboxes and tents are used for checkpoints.

Of course, all this comes at a cost. Fortunately, many organisations in the area provide resources either free of charge or at a reduced cost.

The cost of running the event is approximately £3-4000. This included equipment, which we have purchased with a view to using again at future events.

How does a team win?
There are no prizes for being the fastest team, although this is always announced at the award ceremony.

1. 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes are given for Highest walk points - this is a combination of time taken and quiz points.
2. The teams that have raised the most sponsorship money will be allowed to nominate a charity or good cause to receive £500, £300 or £150.
3. Trophies and medals are given to other teams.
4. The Maurice Reeve-Black award is a special award given by the StarTrek committee to whoever they feel has made a special contribution to the event that year. Last year this went to Emma Perry, Children's Hospice South West.

How many clues?
The number of clues to be answered varies from year to year, but on average there are 24. These are asked at various stages around the course and you can imagine that in the dark and often in poor weather, it is extremely difficult not only to read the clues but to write the answers down.

Who raises the sponsorship?
Each team member raises sponsorship on behalf of the team. The sponsorship forms are brought to the event on the night. When all team members have completed the event the form is authenticated and stamped. The sponsorship money is then collected and submitted to Ilfracombe Rotary Club and where appropriate gift aid is applied for. This operation often takes several months.

How do I enter for StarTrek?
To qualify for the event each team member must pay a £12 entry fee, rising to 15 after the 31st December. This money helps towards the start up admin costs. Go to the Application form.

where are we?!
Finding the way!
StarTrek Challenge, c/o Thomas Westcott, 96 High St, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34 9NH Tel: 01271 863662