Monday, March 30, 2009

Brilliant idea #408 975 271 – Adventure racing

There have been many changes over the last few months, some of which I have written about, some not. Many have crept up on me stealthily and I have wondered where they came from, like the exercise lover in me! The experience has been very positive, except for one thing, which I just can’t shake. I still dislike certain parts of my body a lot. As a whole, I feel strong and healthy, but the bits that store my fat, just aren’t as popular as they ought to be. This was especially clear the week before we went to the beach, when the bikini ready body just hadn’t transpired. I began thinking that perhaps instead of focusing on weight loss, I would be better off setting a challenge for myself. Something that would be good for the mind, strengthen the body and be beneficial for weight loss, but not be the aim.

Everyone, please say hello the fun run idea. I searched over the weekend with the aim of finding a 5km or perhaps a 10km fun run. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with various opportunities almost every month. Of particular interest was the Queensland Half Marathon, which has a variety of lengths. I figured the half marathon would be stretching my current good humour towards jogging, but perhaps the 10km would be an option. Enthusiastically, I downloaded a training schedule to RUN 10km. Yes, this was my first step towards madness. By the end of half an hour, I had fun runs lined up (theoretically) for June, July and August, with plans of starting off at 5k and moving up to 10k by the last one. Until I stumbled on this little gem – the Anaconda Adventure Race at the Gold Coast.

My first introduction to adventure racing was during a marathon of tv watching while making a model for uni for 2 days straight. The Discovery Channel had a program about a team in an adventure race in New Zealand, that lasted for 48 hours. The mountains cradling clear blue lakes captivated me and the single track mountain bike trail over the grassy ridge lines made me dream of adventure. The competitors were pushing themselves to the limits, both mentally and physically racing through night and day. I felt a sense of understanding towards the team although my marathon of model making was perhaps a little less physically demanding, although my back would disagree. Still, they were in one of most beautiful places on earth and I was in the lounge room about to face a critique so at that moment I would have happily traded places with anyone of them.

Since then adventure racing seems to have become more popular with regular local events. Without the clouded judgement of sleep deprivation I’ve always brushed all knowledge of this sport aside with a ‘you would have to be totally crazy to enter something like that’ thoughts. Except I let my guard down and somehow adventure racing has snuck up, blindfolded me and whispers in my ear that I would love it if I gave it a go.

I brought the idea up with my husband, because naturally if I enter he would be involved also. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So, I was on google looking for a challenge like what we talked about and guess what I found?
Husband: *Hesitantly * What? (Thinking, I know this tone of voice. Begins mentally locating exits)
Me: Well, down at the Gold Coast, they are having an adventure race and I had the brilliant idea that maybe we could enter.
Husband: *Unconvincingly * Yeah……(Thinking: Oh great brilliant idea #408 975 271. Maybe if I don’t say anything she won’t notice and I can change the subject)
Me: You don’t seem too convinced!?! Is there something you are worried about?
Husband: Ahh….no….it’s just that……(Thinking: damn, I’m trapped what do I do now!?!?!)
Me: Yes?? What are you worried about?
Husband: Well….it’s uh…just that whenever you get an idea like this you get really enthusiastic….but uh….it doesn’t happen.
Me: What?!?! Like when?!?
Husband: Like ah….hiking in Nepal….but you always say you hate bushwalking. Or cycling in New Zealand.
Me: *With great embarrassment* Oh yeah, New Zealand…..sorry about that….

Ah yes, cycling in New Zealand! Back when we were young – under 21 that is – we decided that our first holiday together would be skiing in New Zealand. Everything was planned, except that we wanted to travel around and see a little of the South Island for the week after skiing. But we were too young to hire a car, so I came up with brilliant idea #406 812 023, we could cycle! I bought the Lonely Planet guide to Cycling New Zealand and enthusiastically started planning our trip. Husband, who was then boyfriend, liked the idea being an avid cyclist and happily embraced it against his better judgement. Against mine, I chose the Western Otago circuit, a 200km loop starting from Queenstown done over 3 days. The ‘highlight’ of the first day is a ‘challenging’ climb of 1100m vertically over the Crown Range Road that is the highest highway in the country (and New Zealand is far from flat). That trip was utter torture and I am amazed that boyfriend actually still chose to become husband, albeit a few years later.

I wasn’t able to cycle up the Crown Range. Prior trip preparation had included no training for the ride and I had to push my loaded bike uphill for about 10km of the 70 we did that day. But that side of the mountain wasn’t the problem. In fact reaching the top was one of the most exciting things I have ever done and I will never forget flying downhill for the next 15km. It was the other side that was the problem. What looked like a flat road in the guidebook, turned out to be undulating. I was at the end of my strength and I could barely manage to keep peddling my heavy bike over each of the hills. Additionally it had taken so long to get up over the Crown Range, that we were running out of daylight and couldn’t stop to eat. That afternoon, I behaved so viciously and angrily that I have blocked it out of my memory. All that remains, is the realisation that I married the most patient man on the planet.

So, I was not surprised that my brilliant idea was not embraced with wholehearted enthusiasm. Although a very cautious person generally, I apparently have this tendency towards cooking up brilliant ideas that may or may not be well outside of my limits and then jumping into them without any judgement. But I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Every moment that I had this weekend I was scheming about how I would train, if I would try it as part of a team and who else would be interested. I dreamt about kayaking and I have woken in the morning with my mind whispering softly ‘adventure race’. I even took myself to the pool on Saturday to see if I could swim 1.2km in under an hour, the disqualification time. After a mind numbingly boring 36 minutes, I had done the requisite 50 laps, conclusive evidence pointing to the fact that the idea isn’t as stupid as it seems.

I have plenty of time to decide if I want to participate in any case, but my insanity begs the question; have you chosen any absurd physical challenges with a good outcome? Do you like just jumping in any seeing how far you can push yourself? Have you ever completed an adventure race or thought of doing one? Feel free to point out any obvious flaws in this plan also!


  1. Oooooh sounds so outdoorsy and adventuresome. I'd say, you can only start training and see what happens. The training itself would be a great experience, just listen to your body and take care, there is nothing worse than a injury and the super frustrating recovery time (speaking from experience).

  2. As a McSlacker, I'm not all that likely to take on things that are an overwhelming challenge--I usually try to make sure I'm in shape for whatever I take on.

    However, I've ACCIDENTALLY gone on some super-long hikes occasioned by my inability to follow a trail map. (Since then I've learned to always pack lots of extra food and water!)

  3. Good for you looking for a challenge. Sounds like fun. I am so proud that you were looking for a run to do. See once you get started with this whole fitness thing, you can't stop! You go.



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