Profile of my fabulous Crew for La Ultra

Name: Ryan Bennett (RB)

DOB: May 10th, 1982

City of residence: New York

Occupation: Entrepreneur, founder of Heart of My Arm http://heartonmyarm.com/

Background in sport/ultras/crewing: Veteran of 5 marathons including New York and Boston.  Also competed in the Racing the Planet Sahara Race, and The North Face 50K at Bear Mountain, New York.  Volunteered as a member of the course team at Racing the Planet Atacama Race.

What was the clincher to crewing in La Ultra? A number of reasons made me decide to crew La Ultra, but most importantly was my desire to help Samantha succeed in such an inspiring,(and crazy) endeavor.  Through her actions, she has personally motivated me to take more risks and grow as a person so I felt I owed it to her to be there to assist her on this most daring journey.  Besides wanting to help Sam, I have always had the desire to see India.  With it’s economic prominence growing each day, I would like to better understand the land and the people of a country that will play a major role in the global economy in this century.

What are your expectations:My expectations of the race are to have none.  In a race like this, anything can happen: from inclement weather to stray dogs chasing us down, it will definitely be an adventure from the first minute to the last sprint (or hobble) to the finish line.  What’s most important in a race like this is to be mentally prepared for anything and to be ready to change your plans and strategy at the drop of a dime.

What are you doing in preparation: Living at sea level won’t help me much when it comes to acclimatizing to the altitude, but what I can do is run, and that is what I have been doing.  A part of my responsibilities for the race will be to help pace Samantha, so it’s of utmost importance that I am in good physical shape to help her accomplish this feat.  This race is all about the competitors so it’s important that I am able to assist her with no personal speed bumps of my own.

What strengths do you think you will bring to our team: My even keeled nature will be a great asset to the team.  In ultra-running, one’s emotions are like a roller coaster.  These dipping and climbing emotions can lead to poor and irrational decisions by the runners, so my calm under pressure will help our team to stay focused and will help our decision making process when things get difficult.

 

Name: Jim Serpless (Jimbot)

DOB: 22/03/87

City of residence: Melbourne

Occupation: Student and Co-Director of Tipi Backpacking http://tipi.com.au

Your background in sport/ultras/crewing: Crossfit

Why made you decide to crew in La Ultra: Primarily I want to see Sam cross the line and help her achieve that goal. My more selfish motives are to be able to run in the stunning Himalayas and be able to share that experience with like-minded people.

What are your expectations: I have trekked at altitude before and know personally the feeling a AMS. I’m hoping that the high physical output and extreme altitude do not render me unconscious!

What are you doing in preparation: I am currently following a Crossfit Endurance program.  Essentially it involves a mixture of high intensity circuit training with a moderate running program attached. It leaves you sore at the end of each weak, so I guess that means its working.

What strengths do you think you will bring to our team: My experience with altitude and previous treks in the Himalaya region allows me to familiarise the team before arrival with the environment.  My close friendship with Sam enables me to tell when she is in need of motivation and assistance that as a pacer is absolutely essential. Also my general above ordinary good looks and charm should make the run a whole lot easier for everyone involved.

 

Name: Sarah Holloway 

DOB: March 24th, 1989

City of residence: Melbourne

Occupation: Student

Your background in sport/ultras/crewing: After spending 100% of my childhood energetically leaping and bounding around in a tutu (and making a bit of a career of it as a junior with the Australian Ballet Company but later bailing on ballet in favour of finishing my education and embarking on a more durable and intellectually/financially rewarding career projectory), I have since neglected the art of exercise and relied excessively on my oriental metabolism to remain in shape. Not surprisingly, I’m a complete ultra-running/crewing virgin and have always been terrified of treadmills, gyms and running tracks. However, I have taken La Ultra as an excellent opportunity to get the hell over myself and re-learn to love that post-exercise adrenaline. I absolutely cannot wait to experience an ultra and am just counting down the days until touchdown in the exquisite Himalayas!

Why made you decide to crew in La Ultra: I have been around since the early days of Samantha’s ultra journey and have proudly followed her progress on the path to becoming the successful international ultra pocket rocket that she is today. Since the start, I have been waiting for the opportunity to watch one of her races and when she started looking for crew for La Ultra, I didn’t hesitate for a second to put my hand up for the job. Not only is this the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to be part of a dear friend’s achievements, it is also the opportunity of a lifetime to be involved in a unique, international event with diverse people from all corners of the globe in an incredibly beautiful part of the world – what more could you ask for in an experience? From preparation through to the race itself, La Ultra is something out-of-the-blue and a bit out of my comfort zone but that is exactly why I am so excited to be part of it.

What are your expectations: I am definitely apprehensive about the effects of altitude and the physical and psychological demands on the whole team during the 60-hour race. However, I have no doubts whatsoever about Samantha, my fellow team members or the team as a collective to step up to the mark when it counts the most. We are all dedicated to ensuring we have done the optimum amount of physical and mental preparation for the conditions, and that the team plan for during the actual race is designed to cope with whatever is thrown at us. Sure, I expect that it will be a hugely challenging and sometimes even confronting experience, but at the end of the tunnel, I know that every gruelling minute of it will have been worth it and we will come away with invaluable insight, skills and experience and a lifetime of wonderful memories.

What are you doing in preparation: Nic (my other half) and myself are doing hypoxic training three times a week and beefing up our daily food intake to ensure that we minimise any of that dangerous weight loss that can occur in altitude. As for race planning, the team is incredibly well-prepared and will go into the race with a detailed minute-by-minute schedule covering food and water breaks, rest breaks, sleep time etc.

What strengths do you think you will bring to our team: My main role is logistics and team organisation, which suits my finicky, perfectionist, painfully organised personality quite well. I suppose my greatest contribution to the team will be to take care of those bothersome and mundane yet crucially important details so that everyone else doesn’t have to and can concentrate fully on their own roles in the race. We each have our own responsibilities with the ultimate goal of minimising Samantha’s, so that she can devote her self completely to the race itself. Our best gift to her is just to do our jobs properly! I don’t doubt that we will, and have high hopes for a successful and rewarding adventure together.

 

Name: Nic Davidson 

DOB: August 13 1984

City of residence: Melbourne

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Photo & Videographer – http://maybetmrw.com/

Your background in sport/ultras/crewing: I was the former National 400m Hurdles champion, and ran internationally for 6 years. I have raced for clubs throughout Europe for a number of years, as well as being the training partner for elite athletes such as Jana Pittman & Chris Rawlinson.

Why made you decide to crew in La Ultra: The race on paper sounds ridiculous. In reality… it is ridiculous. 222km in 60 hours at up to 18,000ft high with huge ascents… It just seems an almost impossible task… that is, until you meet Samantha and see the endless determination of the inspiring little pocket rocket. As a former athlete, I love to see people succeed and helping Samantha get across the line whilst documenting the journey both from a film and photographic perspective will be a great and exciting challenge.

What are your expectations: Hard to breathe, cold, and steep?! I am a bit of an adventure traveller so this all excites me. As I was a sprinter and far-from-brilliant at long-distance, I’m apprehensive about my running component (helping to pace Samantha with Jim & Ryan) especially at high altitude. But I will rise to the challenge and do everything I can to achieve my tasks of providing support on the run and documenting the journey and the experience that the 5 of us will be undertaking.

What are you doing in preparation: Sarah and I are doing hypoxic training together to simulate the high altitude situations we will be in. This involves a treadmill, a big mask and a machine attached to you, both reducing your oxygen level and making you look and sound like Darth Vader. I’m also doing a lot of resistance training, and trying to get some kilometres into my very differently trained sprinter’s legs.

What strengths do you think you will bring to our team: My experience with sport and overcoming obstacles that occur with elite athletes and in events will definitely be an asset to this team. I’m also probably the world’s biggest geek and problem solver so this should help with the technical components of it. I think supporting my lovely girlfriend in her role will also help take some of the load!

 

 

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