Within Land Rover’s TReK Contest, Where Fresh Defenders—and Individuals—Are Pushed to the Limit

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By Car Brand Experts


The registration for Land Rover TRĕK 2021 portrayed the event as “an off-road challenge that will evaluate your technical, physical, and communication abilities.” Going over the gear checklist, my spouse arched his brows.

“You’re going camping?” he inquired. “So, with a tent?”

“Indeed, I. Camping,” I countered. “It’s going to be quite an escapade.”

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Land Rover/Havas Formula

Little did I realize how much of a thrilling experience Land Rover TReK would turn out to be. What I did comprehend is that I’d be part of a group with two other writers I had never encountered, competing against five other teams, spending a whole day steering a brand-new 2022 Land Rover Defender across rugged terrain and collaborating to hoist, get dirty, drive, and navigate our way through numerous hurdles to amass points.

The press team trialed the route before the dealership group, which concludes this week with teams from 70 Land Rover vendors throughout North America for the TRĕK preliminary challenges. Following the trials (crafted to teach and push sales, maintenance, and technician staff), the top teams battle it out for all the praise. Along the process, the teams return to their vendors with firsthand understanding of exactly what can be achieved with a Defender 110 P300 S.

Upon our arrival, our tents had been assembled for us, which seemed slightly like taking a shortcut, but I had no intention of protesting. Land Rover Chief Executive Officer Joe Eberhardt was nearby conversing with the exceptional team composed of Olympic skier and Land Rover advocate Lindsey Vonn; elite mountaineer, high-altitude skier Hilaree Nelson; and ESPN correspondent Alyssa Roenigk. Now that’s some heavy competition. 

Jaguar Land Rover University’s Technical Instructor, Sean Gorman, delineated our general activities, after which the teams were given the opportunity to grasp the use of all the available gear, including a Hi-Lift Jack, Warn Zeon 10-S winch kit, recovery straps and shackles (when I think of recovery straps, I recall the individual who narrowly evaded decapitation due to using the wrong kind of strap), and TRED Pro Recovery boards. The instructors handed us a Garmin etrex10 GPS device and then receded into the background, leaving us to plan for the following day.

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Kristin Shaw

Following a night enduring the rain while camping, myself and my newfound companions—Scott Brady from Overland Journal and Kristin Canning with Women’s Health—seized the opportunity toOur detailed map and GPS were aligned at the starting point. Armed with coordinates and a waterproof map, our initial challenge was locating our vehicle on foot.

Traversing a mile and a half of damp grass and dusty trails (note for next time: increase running to maintain fitness), we triumphantly unearthed the cluster of concealed vehicles in the forest. Following the river banks depicted on the map seemed like a prudent navigation choice. Setting the speed limit at 20 miles per hour evoked a mix of groans and laughter during the preceding night’s gathering. Lindsey Vonn, a known speed enthusiast, maneuvered her Defender skillfully through the obstacles during her run.

One task necessitated using the Hi-Lift Jack, recovery strap, and chains to haul the Defender uphill by two car lengths. It proved to be a sweaty, challenging, and occasionally tedious endeavor. Rotating roles, one person managed the SUV’s brake while another operated the jack and adjusted the chains. While exiting the parked Defender on a slope early on, I underestimated the door’s weight. The door unexpectedly shut on my left thumb, causing concern for a possible fracture. Fortunately, no bones broke, and I alleviated the discomfort by applying a cold water bottle, later taking my turn to operate the jack. Though still slightly stiff a week later, I view it as a memento of the challenge.

Further hurdles demanded precision, such as maneuvering and towing a trailer through a narrow course of cones, with the aid of a crystal-clear backup camera. Scott and Kristin watched as I completed the task with a lone penalty. When Scott took the wheel, he navigated the cones exceptionally swiftly. At another station, a grid of poles required specific pattern executions, involving 3- and 5-point turns within a confined area. After conquering this challenge, we earned breakfast sandwiches stashed by the Land Rover team under the engine cover to maintain warmth.

Driving the Defender proved to be the most straightforward part of TReK. Its design appeared capable of handling varied terrains effortlessly, instilling confidence as we encountered different landscapes, knowing its potential exceeded our current challenges. As a disclosure, I own a 2000 Range Rover (P38 body style) that has accompanied us for over two decades and across more than 180,000 miles on journeys spanning the nation.

While our team didn’t clinch victory in the competition, we forged unforgettable memories. Returning home to Texas with fatigue, bruises, and a temporarily incapacitated left thumb, the experience felt triumphantly rewarding. The event serves as an enlightening platform for retail staff to witness the Defender’s capabilities firsthand, potentially igniting increased interest in the model. I almost pondered acquiring one for myself before departure.

Await the upcoming adventure eagerly, including the tent-dwelling portion.

Have a suggestion? Reach out to the author via email: kristin.shaw@thedrive.com

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