Variety is the spice of life: adventure racing

By June 12, 2015 Blog No Comments

Part 1: From Ultra Runner to Adventure Racer

This year I decided to cross over to the wild side, and with no MTB or paddling experience I joined a team of 3 lads to tackle this years XPD in Townsville (a 700km expedition length adventure race in August).

My coach Ray Zahab calls the guys in my team "The Thunder"

The physical undertaking was, and is still very daunting to me. As far as the physical challenge will take me out of my comfort zone, it is the component of sleep deprivation that puts knots into my tummy. With the exception of a mandatory 5 hour break mid-way into the race, teams determine how they will proceed through the different disciplines and throughout the course. Mismanagement and an inability to pay attention to your body (& your team mates) could have a race ending impact. And this doesn’t even touch on the consequence in the weeks/months after the event from being sleep deprived for potentially up to 10 days.

micro sleep

Leggo having a micro sleep during a 22 hour training session

During my 379km crossing of the Simpson desert in 2012, I kept moving for 3 days 14 hours and 28 minutes (with the exception of a couple of 20 minute stops). It was the lack of sleep that destroyed me for months afterwards and infilrated by sleep with nightmares and tearful interruptions. I was a graduate lawyer at the time & I remember being woken up after falling asleep at my desk with a frightful scream.

Taking the most of a 20 minute nana nap

Taking the most of a 20 minute nana nap in the Simpson desert

Despite my fear of sleep deprivation, my enjoyment levels have soard by being able to learn new skills and train/race with a group of guys who enjoy the lighter side of life. Teammates ‘JRoddy’, ‘Leggo’ and ‘Snakeman’ all appreciate the balance between family/work/play/train (in that order) and it is refreshing to share the trails with them and try and adopt that attitude. My Canadian Coach Ray Zahab calls my team mates ‘The Thunder’ (think Las Vegas based Aussie strippers), so when referring to them collectively I will call them so. And before I give the lads a big head I will emphasis that 98% of the male population will look tall and muscular when standing next to me.

Thunder & a little lady

The Thunder & a little lady

We have had some great group training sessions so far, most notably a 22 hour session in the Vic high country, a paddle/run at Sandy Point and completing two ultras – Maroondah Dam 50k  & Wilsons Prom 60K. Snakeman said when the team first got together that we needed to be close enough to be comfortable wiping each other’s butts. As much as I am for team bonding and I know I will lean on the guys a bunch, I have made it clear I will not get to the point where they will need to clean my butt.

Getting thrown into the deep end with a 22hour training session in chilly temps.

Getting thrown into the deep end with a 22hour training session in chilly temps.

This past weekend we took part in GeoQuest (a 48 hour adventure race in Hawks Nest NSW). This threw a completely new light on what XPD might be like and I finally got to experience what an adventure race. Although the event was super challenging (12 separate legs of MTB, kayaking, rafting, snorkelling, running/rogaining), being able to stay calm during some interesting moments and complete the event has given me some confidence in the final 8 week stretch to XPD.

Gaining more time on the MTB and developing strength all over the bod will be crucial however, as is pulling together all of the required gear to be prepared for the enormity of the event.

‘One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.’

The calm before the strom

The calm before the strom

One thing I take away from GeoQuest is the need to be prepared for the unexpected, the hallucinations and the dependancy on your team mates.  So stay tuned for Part 2, which includes the 2XUDash – Area51 tales of backward paddling, a ripped gstring midrace, strong currents in a river and an innovative thought to keeping dry.

Thanks to our team sponsor 2XU & Area51, you guys are the best!

Merci to my personal sponsors Freedom Sports Medicine, Brooks and Turbo Superfoods, endless love & appreciation.