Team Multisport.fi enters Nordic Islands AR 2018

Team Multisport.fi, which is entering the Nordic Islands Adventure Race 2018, are an extremely experienced group of adventure racers. They are headed up by Petri Forsman, who has been competing for more than 20 years and even raced several Eco-Challenges back in the day. His fellow team members have clocked up decades of competition between them too.

The Nordic Islands Adventure Race is set for an abseil start, off the Downtown Camper Hotel in central Stockholm, with each of the 23 teams on a dedicated rope. Other details of the 637.5 kilometre course were released a week before the start, which takes place on 12th August. Involving pack-rafting, swim-run, kayaking, mountain-biking and of course running, they can be found here.


First some Form
Petri Forsman: actually this year hasn’t been that busy for me so far. I have done just two international races, first in January, the Merrel Kongvinter in Denmark, and then in spring, when I competed in Expedition Africa in Namaqua (in which he placed 3rd with Team Omjakon). Otherwise I have done just a couple of national multisport and bike races.

We have raced together before and we work well as a team, so it was an easy call to come together for the inaugural Nordic Islands race. Brothers Ville and Jaakko Mäkäle have long experience of adventure racing, Pauliina hasn’t been racing for quite as long, but she has done several races in China. Their best result was probably taking second place in Itera in Ireland in 2016.


Why NIAR? Why now?
It’s a great opportunity for us - and great that a major race is linking Sweden, Åland and Finland. In my opinion it is one of the absolute best possible locations in the world for an adventure race. It will definitely be challenging and the country is super beautiful, right from the start to the end.


The physical side
We each look after our own fitness and skills training individually, but for Nordic Islands AR we have got together for some specific training in the various sports. We have been out kayaking and we have also done some training in swim-run. Also, we haven’t used pack-rafts before, so we have been out working with them as well.


Planning and Strategies
All four of us are navigators and we do share the work around the team. We have not decided on our strategies yet, of who does which section, and when we sleep and for how long. We’ll make those decisions once we find out more about the course.
 

What will be the most challenging aspect of the event?
It looks like we will be travelling a good distance along asphalt roads with quite heavy packs. That and the absolute certainty of getting wet feet will make it hard for the racers.

We’re not so worried about the water sections as long as the wind doesn’t get up. But if the wind-speed reaches 6m/s or more on the open water then that will be hard. Also pack-rafting into a headwind would be tough too.


What are your general expectations?
As I mentioned, Sweden-Åland-Finland really is a fantastic location for a big race. It has it all, so we can expect a great course. And currently the weather forecast looks positive and warm. There should be some amazing sunsets and sunrises out in the archipelago. And there are some amazing rocky areas in the Åland islands. I hope the organisation have managed to get the support of the locals so that the racers can get the best out of the competition.


What will achievement look like?
We would hope to be racing among the top three teams right from the off.

And success for the race itself will mean that word will get about and many more teams will enter a big race in Scandinavia next year.

 

Team Whats Your Dream in Nordic Islands Adventure Race 2018

Marika Wagner will be leading Team Whats Your Dream in the Nordic Islands Adventure Race 2018. She is a very accomplished adventure racer herself, but her three team-mates have never participated in a major adventure race before. A Life of Adventure caught up with Marika as she returned from an all-night training session involving pack rafting, some swim-run and an exceptionally long mountain biking session. She coped admirably with the questions.

The Nordic Islands Adventure Race starts in Stockholm on the afternoon of 12th August. The approx 600 km course will start with a huge abseil off the Downtown Camper hotel in Stockholm and then head north out of the city via mountain bike, crossing to the Aland archipelago in kayaks, where teams will progress from island to island using pack-rafts and ‘swim-run’, before heading across to mainland Finland. The winning team is expected to take approximately 92 hours or just under four days and the course will remain open for six.

Details of the course are available here.

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First a bit of Form
Team Leader Marika Wagner is a very successful adventure racer, having attained podium finishes in several top races over the past few years. These include second place with Team Peak Performance in the AR World Series in Chile in 2015 and third in Xtrail in China in 2016 as part of Team Haglofs Silva. She also won the world Swim-Run Championships in 2015 and then won the solo multisport race the Åre Extreme Challenge 2018 in Sweden.

Her team mates may be new to adventure racing but they are no means unused to sport and general fitness. Kalle Zackari Walström is a well known Swedish television presenter, who specialises in taking on sporting events as a challenge and then reporting on them. James Roberts and Jens Larsson, long-standing friends of his, are both in the police force in Stockholm.


Why Nordic Islands AR? Why now?
We wanted to get Kalle to try out adventure racing and the opportunity presented itself this year, so we invited him to enter the race. I volunteered to show them the ropes and lead the team in the event itself.

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Training
All three of the guys are fit - and of course Kalle trains in new sports for his TV shows all the time - but they’re into cross-fit and strength training more than endurance. So it hasn’t been a case of stepping up the training, rather they have had to change focus and go more into endurance – long distance running and biking. It hasn’t been easy for them, but they are getting on well. Last weekend we had a session through the night and they made great progress, plus they have the will to get there. Their technical mountain biking seemed to be better in the dark than in daylight…

We did a short AR race (eight hours) around Stockholm in June and then entered a bike race, the Vätternrundan (a 300km road cycle race around the Vättern lake in southern Sweden), more as a training exercise than for the race. They coped fine, I was super impressed. They hadn’t trained much on road bikes but we worked well together as a team and had a really good time.

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Planning and Strategies
Jens is the navigator. He learned the skill in the military, though all of them are switched on in the outdoors. I am the team leader. My role is to take care of the team and keep the focus. I have the knowledge of how races often progress. People say that adventure racing is hard, but I think that’s a misconception. It’s just about fixing your mind on the goal. You have to really want it because you really can’t be half-prepared mentally for an adventure race. We’ll see how we get on.

Like every team we will have our ups and downs, but the three guys have a really good spirit and they’re good at helping each other – if you try to tough it out in AR you’ll never make it. I have been out with novice racers before, in Tasmania, and I learned a lot. I can’t motivate them for six days, but I can use my knowledge to help them.

We have talked about what can happen, and my job is to show them the options when things do go wrong. The most important of all is that quitting is not the first option. People new to AR do find the problem solving difficult. When things are good it’s easy to keep going, but when they go wrong you can always slow the pace, take some rest, even sleep for 12 hours if necessary. I will be there to keep them from getting worried that they might have to quit.

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What are you looking forward to?
Marika asked the guys what they were looking forward to about their first full length adventure race.

Jamie Roberts: “I’m looking forward to crossing the sea and experiencing nature out there with the team. Even if it feels a little scary to be heading so far out there in a small kayak…”

Kalle Zackari Walström: “I’m looking forward to moving through the Nordic summer with my friends under our own stream. Giving it everything and having a good time together. And finishing… I’m really looking forward to the finish line


What will achievement look like?
Marika: To finish. That’s the only thing we’re interested in.


What does adventure mean to you?
To me adventure racing is about passion for nature and getting close to nature. You get to see the world’s most beautiful places and I believe the experience is even greater when you push yourself at the same time. When you’re exhausted, hungry and tired all the distractions of the daily grind become irrelevant and everything becomes more real. And you share all this with your friends in the team.

 

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Staffan Björklund, course designer of Nordic Islands Adventure Race

Staffan Björklund is the course designer (and race organiser) of the Nordic Islands Adventure Race, to be held between mainland Sweden, the Aland Islands, and Finland in August 2018. As well as designing courses he knows the sport from the inside, having had podium finishes in the AR World Series and in the European Championships. He continues to race at the highest level. Over the years he has designed many short (5-10 hour) adventure race courses, in Sweden, Turkey and the Canary Islands, as well as swim-run races.

Here he talks about creating Nordic Islands Adventure Race 2018, his longest race as a course designer. The course is a secret until late July, but he has revealed that 65% of the Nordic Islands Adventure race 2018 will be on land and 35% on water.

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What brief did you set yourself when designing this course?
I want to create a race that is for racers, a point to point journey without dark zones or tricksy challenges and which takes place in a spectacular environment. Races have happened in deserts, jungles and mountains, but never before in an archipelago. There are literally 100,000 islands between Sweden and Finland and this makes the area unique.

A second reason is that we are celebrating the 380th anniversary of the creation of the postal service between Sweden and Finland, under Swedish Queen Cristina, linking Stockholm in Sweden and Turku in Finland, so we will be following the route that these pioneers followed nearly four centuries ago. Also we will be passing through some of the oldest Viking settlements.

There are five or six spectacular moments on the course. For instance I think it is the first time that an adventure race has crossed a time zone, and it is first time that the sports of Swim-Run has been introduced into an adventure race as well.
 

Early plans
I was talking to Craig Bycroft, Director of the Adventure Race World Series, and he asked if I knew anyone who might be able to design a course in Sweden because he’d like to set up a race there within the ARWS. I mentioned a few people, but then he asked ‘What about me?’ At first I said no, but a couple of weeks later I thought maybe I should. This was in February 2017, 18 months ago. I realised I would like to do something in the sport in Scandinavia.

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How many ‘authorities’ (national parks, land-owners etc) have you had to deal with?
It must be thousands. It is different in the two countries, too. In Sweden we have a thing called Allemansrätten, a sort of right to roam, which means that you can enter any land, even pitch a tent, as long as you respect the landowner by asking permission or camping more than 300 metres from any house that is occupied.

I have lost count of the number of time that I have explained what Adventure Racing is to people who don’t know the sport and then I have said: ‘they might pass through your land’.

Of course, among the racers there will be a code that they will pay as much respect to the land as they can and that they will leave no mark of their presence.


What is the biggest logistical challenge?
The biggest challenge has been around safety, as you would expect, with so much of the course involving water. Everyone is concerned about it and we have paid it a lot attention – to the point where I think that NIAR will be safest adventure race ever held. The standard is that teams should be able to look after themselves for three hours after an incident: here we can get a helicopter to them within 90 minutes. Two doctors will be travelling with the teams as the organisation moves forward along the course, and there are safety boats and staff on the course – though hopefully the racers won’t notice.

Sourcing boats has also been a challenge.


What effect have the long hours of daylight had on your planning ?
Well, it means I can work 20 hours a day…

It gives us the chance to have a course with lots of water but no dark zones. The only section we need to be careful of is the long open-water crossing from the Swedish mainland to the Aland Islands, and we have designed things so that people will cross this in the daylight.

Teams that come to a swim-run section during darkness may find this a challenge

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How do you test the course? Do you do it personally?
We have tested every section of the course personally, often several times – even now, a month before the race, we have kept some sections of the course flexible.


How accurate can you be over timings? Is there a reduction in speed resulting from exhaustion?
It’s not so much a reduction of speed over time as after the first day. People move very quickly on Day 1 but they slow down a bit on Day 2 and from then on they tend to move at the same speed until the end of the course. I reckon I can predict the winning team’s time within 30 minutes.


Are the things you have learned not to do?
There are some ideas we have considered but which we have given up on quite quickly, usually because they will turn out to be too expensive or too time-consuming to organise. We would love to have had a section of roof-run in Stockholm – it might have been 2km long – but it would have taken too long and been too difficult to organise, so we dropped that pretty quickly.


Finishers
I have designed the course three times now. The first course had too much logistics. The second was too hard and I think only 5 teams would have finished.

On the course we have now, of the 22 teams I think that between 15 and 20 teams will get there. We don’t have a cut off; there is a pick-up zone for an early finish, but teams can continue till the end if they wish. That said, it’ll be a tough course. There are a lot of big seas and no race has been done in an area like this before. One big concern is hypothermia. It can get really cold out there, even in August.

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Is it a better course if some people don’t make it?
I believe we need levels of races in AR. The ARWS championship should test the best teams in the world and there should be a handful of races of this level. However, I think we need other races that are at other levels too, to help the sport grow.


What is a successful course?
A successful course a non-stop journey on a point to point course with no dark zones, with a good mix of long sections and shorter, faster elements: it should be testing for racers, but surprising and satisfying for them too. And it should be beautiful, of course.

Also, it should also be entertaining for observers. Adventure Racing needs to create a new audience, re-activating people’s interest from the early days of the sport 20 years ago, and then drawing in younger viewers as well. A huge number of people express interest in the sport, but so far nobody has been that successful at spreading the message.

There are so many stories to be told out there. We just need to find a way to tell them.

See more about the Nordic Islands Adventure Race.

 

Björn Lenhard enters the Transcontinental Race

On 29th July 2018 Björn Lenhard, 40, from Dresden in eastern Germany, will be entering the Transcontinental Race, a cross-Europe cycling event approximately 3800 kilometres long. The Transcontinental Race is an unsupported cycle race which starts in Geraardsbergen in Belgium and finishes in Meteora in Greece. There are four checkpoints through which competitors must pass, in Austria, Slovenia, Poland and Bosnia, but otherwise the route they follow is up to them.

This is the 3rd time Lenhard has competed in the event. In 2017 he took second place. Earlier this year he won the Trans Atlantic Way, another unsupported approximately 2000-kilometre cycle race down the west coast of Ireland, heading from Dublin up to Derry in the north and then down the Atlantic coast to Kinsale. Bjorn is a brand ambassador for Canyon Bikes and Apidura and rides with their kit.

  ©   Max Libertine

©  Max Libertine

The Transcontinental Race starts on the cobbles of the Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium at 10pm on 29th July and the winner, depending on the weather, is expected to take between nine and ten days to complete the course to Meteora. You can see the race unfold here.


First a bit of Form
Björn Lenhard: I came to endurance cycling quite late, in 2010. I was due to have a holiday in northern Germany with my then wife. She was forced to travel there late because of work, so I decided to cycle up there to meet her. At that stage I had not cycled any more than 100km at a stretch, but I went ahead and covered 350 kilometres in one go to make it. I found I really enjoyed the trip and decided that I would do more of it.

In 2012 I raced the 750km Elbspitze from Dresden to the Alps and I got into the 1200km Paris-Brest Audax. And then in 2105 I managed to break the record for Paris-Brest, at 42 hours and 26 minutes
 

  © Max Libertine

© Max Libertine

Why the Transcontinental? Why now?
Since breaking the record in Paris-Brest I have been dreaming about the Trans-continental. This is my third entry and I’d love to improve on my second place from last year.

The Transcontinental is different from the Trans Atlantic in Ireland, which effectively has a set course. In the Trans-continental you choose your route yourself. There is a start point in Belgium and the finish in Greece, and four checkpoints through which you must pass on the way, but otherwise it is entirely up to you what route you follow, and that adds another dimension. You choose what you think is the flattest route, but it might not be the fastest.

The race has great variety, too. We all know western Europe and how it works, and how to get food and water, but ex-Yugoslavia and the Balkans are as wild as it gets. You won’t die from hunger out there, but it’s a very different life. It’s interesting crossing borders, something that we barely notice at home.
 

What training have you done for the event?
I cycle the throughout the year. I cycle to and from work, which means about 200 kilometres per week. After that it depends on how much time I have and on the weather, but I will ride each weekend, something between 120km and 250km. I haven’t had time for a full training plan and everything I know I have taught myself. I know I could improve with a coach.

  © Max Libertine

© Max Libertine


How important is the psychological side?
These races are about your mind, not so much your body. Pain is our thing when we’re out there. You have to push yourself through it. Sometimes it is really hard to get back on your bike, but even very small delays add up. You can lose so much time over getting water and food. And sleeping, too. I tell myself to eat on the bike. Over days it will make a considerable difference.

So you have to force yourself to keep on and on going. I know there are physically stronger racers out there, but I know also that I am strong mentally. I simply tell myself that if I stop here it won’t get me any further along the course, so I must keep cycling. You have to think like this all the time.

I do enjoy the landscapes I pass through. Every day you see something new, but also I am constantly planning, looking at navigation, working out where I can stop.


Equipment
Björn Lenhard has been a brand ambassador for Canyon Bikes, Apidura and 7Mesh clothing since 2018

The first bike I bought in 2010 was a Canyon Ultimate, which I built myself. I was happy with it so in 2017 I bought a second Canyon and I am now riding an Endurace CF SLX. I have adapted myself it again with a small generator to power my satnav and my mobile. It’s comfortable and I have set it up so it works very well for me.

I have used Apidura saddlebags since I bought a saddle bag two years ago. The frame bag works really well too. There’s a zip on both sides, which makes it easy to access while riding and it’s waterproof.

  © Max Libertine

© Max Libertine


Strategies
I am still experimenting and I learn all the time. In Ireland recently I found that when I ate a whole packet of cookies once it made me feel ill. For 30 minutes I tried to push through it, but eventually I had to stop and sit down. I had two wraps with me from the day before so I ate them. I got back on the bike and to my surprise the power came back on the power meter.

It would be nice to manage my food more, but often the only things available in a petrol station are Coke and crisps and a chocolate bar – not even an apple or a banana. Stopping in a supermarket is great but it takes a lot of time.

  © Max LIbertine

© Max LIbertine

I will probably sleep in bus stops or in front of shops. Last year I slept for an average of four hours a night, but in Ireland I found I was able to get away with just three hours and I didn’t feel more tired than I did last year on the Transcontinental, so I will try to continue with that.


Does anything concern you as you look forward to the race?
No, there isn't anything that worries me. I have so much experience now. I am used to the long days, and the dogs, the weather and the bad traffic. I should even sleep well the night before we set off on the event.

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Images courtesy of Max Libertine, a photographer based in Dresden, www.maxlibertine.com and instagram @max_libertine

Jeremy Goddard and the Grand to Grand Ultra

In September this year, Jeremy Goddard, 51, an oil-field engineer, will be entering the Grand to Grand Ultra, a 270 kilometre, seven-day staged race on a course that stretches from the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Grand Staircase, a range of mountains in Utah. He has been a marathon and ultra runner for several years and has recently been running more multi-day ultras.

 ©  Racing the Planet/Thiago Diz

©  Racing the Planet/Thiago Diz

First a bit of form
I have been running since 2010, when I entered the London marathon. I was under-trained and unprepared and it was horrible, and afterwards I decided I should have done better. So I continued training and ran the Dublin marathon later that year and took more than an hour off my time. After that I joined my local club and kept running, and then in 2012 I discovered that ultra marathons existed. I ran a few in the UK, both single and multiday, before competing in the Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa. That was an amazing experience and I worked it in as part of a family holiday.

In 2017 I ran the Atacama crossing – a multi-day self supported ultra marathon - and really enjoyed it. The Atacama Desert was a place I really wanted to see and what better way than to run through it! Running is very important to me for many reasons and I regularly volunteer at my local Parkrun and with the juniors’ section of the club.

 Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra

Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra


How did you come across the G2G? Why are you doing it now?
During the Atacama Crossing, one of the many friends I made was a Polish chap whose friends had just done the 2017 Grand to Grand and said it was really good. It just stuck in my head, and when I got home I looked at the race profile and pictures and I was hooked!

This year, after nearly 30 years in the oil industry, I have taken voluntary redundancy, so completing the Grand to Grand will give me a very positive memory.  I hope to do well in the race. I like multi-day races because of the extra challenge of managing your recovery and nutrition between each stage.


Training
So far this year I have done a 50-mile race and two marathons, and as part of my build up I will enter another four or five marathons plus one other ultra (‘The Plague’, 60 miles along the Cornish coast ). Two of the marathons are on consecutive days and I will run both with my backpack at the starting weight for Grand to Grand (10kg). Both marathons I have done so far have been on really hot days, which I’m taking as a good omen for Grand to Grand! When training with the backpack I fill it with books to get the right weight – you get some strange looks when people ask what you’re carrying!

 Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra

Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra

Planning
The majority of my planning for the Grand to Grand really took place last year, for the Atacama crossing – the races have a similar format and things went well there so I shall just repeat them. Before that though, I spent a lot of time researching nutrition and kit. On nutrition it was in order to get the right calories and also the correct ratio of carbs, protein and fat. I tested all the food before I went and it worked really well. I also checked my kit and pack – I did a 24hr race as a two day run, stopping and camping overnight so I could test all my gear and different foods.

I am a little obsessive about planning, but I believe that it really pays off. That said, I know I need to change my breakfast choice – after a few days in the Atacama, trying to eat the porridge was like forcing down cement – if I hadn’t needed the fuel I couldn’t have eaten it!

 Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra

Photo courtesy Grand to Grand Ultra

Most daunting aspect?
I don’t really suffer from race nerves and I’m actually really excited by getting out there. I know it’s going to be tough but I relish the challenge.


And what are you most looking forward to?
The beer at the end is a definite! I usually stop any alcohol at least twelve weeks before.

I am really looking forward to the scenery and meeting all the other runners, but ultimately it’s the solitude and facing the challenge – you really get to understand what you are capable of when you are out there on your own.

See more details of the Grand to Grand Ultra here.

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Sean Conway’s Record Breaking ride across Europe

 

On 11th May 2018, Sean Conway arrived in the town of Ufa in Russia, breaking the world record for an unsupported crossing of Europe by bicycle. The 3500 mile journey, from Cabo de Roca on the Atlantic coast of Portugal to Ufa in the foothills of the Ural Mountains, took 24 days 18 hours and 39 minutes, beating the previous record by some 9 hours.

His ride was self-supported, meaning that he had no accompanying person to help organise food, water, accommodation or logistical help,

Known as the Big Bearded Adventurer, Sean lost just a few kilos in weight (going from 68kg to 64 or 65kg), but his beard grew a centimetre.

Images courtesy Gavin Kaps of osprey imagery.

 

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How did it go?
I split the journey into 1000 mile chunks and the first 1000 was really, really tough. There was an issue at the start, which didn't go that well, and I was sore all over to begin with. But later I found my rhythm and things went better, as my body adjusted to the demands. Generally it was a still ride, and in the Ukraine I even had a small tailwind for a couple of days. But then, for the last 1100 miles, almost from the moment I arrived in Russia, I hit a headwind of 15-20mph. At one point I was 26 hours ahead of the previous record, but then with the wind and the bad roads with no hard shoulder, constantly worrying about being run over - I had to stop to let trucks past about every three minutes - the lead was eventually reduced to just nine hours.


Did you get your training and planning right?
I was on fitness to break the record, but I didn’t leave myself much room for error. If I had had a proper mechanical - a spoke break or a tyre wall split - even in the last 500 miles - that could have been the end of it. But could I have been fitter? Unfortunately the weather over the winter in the UK, with the snow and the storms, meant that I had to do so many indoor sessions that yes, basically I was a little under-powered. Normally I would happily ride a 5% gradient at 8 mph, but here I was down to 5 mph and I didn’t feel that I had the power in my legs. So towards the end of the attempt, I lost power when going into the hills

My strategy at the start – to start in the evening with the intention of cycling through the night, covering around 220 miles in the first 24 hours, turned out to be a bad one. The idea was good, but I arrived at the start tired after a difficult journey and by the end of 24 hours I was all over the place.

I was glad that I did the ride in April and May though. It wasn’t too hot - which means finding and drinking perhaps an extra 2 litres per day - and it wasn’t too cold at night, which means you have to take the heavier sleeping bag. It was 5-6 degrees at night and so I had the summer sleeping bag and the right clothing.

And the decision to go from west to east was probably a good one too, though if I had been fitter it might have been better to have gone the other way around. It would have been easier to make up the lost time.

One thing I could have done differently was to adopt a more aggressive position on the bike. It would have helped with aerodynamics and posture. And it would have enabled me to put down more power.

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How was it physically?
For the first 1000 miles everything hurt, my neck, knees and ankles, and it felt as though my cleats were swivelling in the pedals. It was probably the result of stress hormones and inflammation as the body went into shock at what I was asking of it. Those roadside crash barriers come in useful for massaging your thighs, though.

After the first 1000, I felt more robust and my body adapted as it became accustomed to what was asked of it. My legs felt more piston-like and I didn’t have to stretch so much (I began to do this on the downhills, by hooking a foot back over the saddle).

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Were your strategies right during the event?
As I progressed I found I became less sleep deprived, which was strange because I was actually sleeping less. This was a new one for me. I also began to fall asleep more quickly when I stopped. I guess it was the body giving itself a better chance to recover. Interestingly, at 25 days, this was actually the shortest challenge I have put myself through (others have been 44 days, 85 and 150 days) and so I was working a bit harder. I was allowing for 4-5 hours’ sleep a night but in the end I found myself waking up after just four hours and so I would set off at 3 am.

I slept in hotels for four or five nights in total, mainly so I could wash my clothes. I probably should have done it a couple of times more. The salt in the material caused chafing and that’s hard to heal. On the other hand, stopping in a hotel costs time, strangely, because you have to arrange things in a language you don’t know. One morning I got up at 4am and found someone had helpfully locked my bike away in the night and they didn’t come back to work until 7am, so I lost three hours then.


What was the most challenging moment?
The most challenging thing was getting used to each country, working out where to get water and food quickly. Petrol stations are the easiest source of course, but in some countries there would be a rack of motor oil and hub caps and a rack of crisps and maybe nuts but nothing else. Finding fresh food – fruit and veg – was often nearly impossible. It took a couple of days to get used to each country, and then I was moving on to the next country, of course.

You need a balance of food of course: some energy food, some recovery food and some health food. It’s tempting to eat all energy food, but you won’t perform well. Fresh fruit and veg is really important to sustaining yourself.
 

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Did you feel down at any stage?
I actually did feel down a bit towards the end. Not because I couldn’t handle the riding, but more because I knew I was potentially taking 36 hours longer than I needed to. And in Russia it got to me. By that stage I just wanted it to be over. I was constantly worried about being run over by lorries and the headwind made it feel like reaching the finish line of a marathon only to discover that the organisers have upped and moved it another 10 miles further away.
 

Was there a crisis moment?
Just the whole of Russia, really. It was really hard going, and I was worried the whole way whether I would make it in time. Having got to 26 hours head of the best time, I was terrified that I was losing the record.
 

Was there a pleasurable moment?
Truthfully, no. There were a couple of amazing sunrises - it was kind of cool to see the sunrise and the sunset each day - and obviously sections of the scenery were nice – the Pyrenees are amazing – but for the most part I had my head down and I was blasting it.

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My feeling on reaching the end at Ufa was just relief, really. I was so pleased that the headwind was over. And that I didn’t have to get up again at 3.58 the next morning and set off again. My saddle sores were pretty bad, as well. There was barely any time to settle anyway. I arrived in the afternoon and I had a 7am flight the next morning, before which I had to find a bike shop and get ready to leave.

And the pleasure of the record hasn’t really hit even now [about a month after finishing]. I’ll start writing a book about it soon. That’s when I might start enjoying the idea of cycling again.


What did you learn?
I learned that I can push myself even harder now at 37 years old. I thought I might be coming to the end of my ability to do that, but I have realised that my endurance can keep going on even longer.

I realise I will need to prepare a bit more in the future. It would have been very helpful to have known where to find routes and where to get food in each country. And when in the past I would have winged it, in future I will prepare more because I will be able to achieve more.

I found it interesting to do this at higher speed than my other events. There really is less much less room for mistakes.

Sean 9 photo credit Gavin Kaps ospreyimagery.jpg

George Popov & the Cateran Yomp

George Popov, 21, a student, will be taking part the Cateran Yomp, a 54-mile run/hike in the Perthshire Hills in Scotland. The event takes place over the weekend of 9th and 10th June. Participants complete the circular route that runs north from Blairgowrie to the southern edge of the Cairngorms in teams of three to six. The distance must be completed within 24 hours.

He will be entering as part of a team of three and will approach it mainly as a run rather than a hike. He will be raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the organisers of the event.

 Lets hope the weather stays like this during the event

Lets hope the weather stays like this during the event


First a bit of Form
Although I have taken exercise all my life, I have only been a runner only for the last couple of years. However I spent half my childhood running around the mountains in Bulgaria, so I am accustomed to the hills. Recently I have done a lot of hiking and running around York.


Why the Cateran Yomp? Why now?
I was going to do a similar event in Bulgaria, but then I became aware of the Cateran Yomp though a sponsored Facebook post. It looked like fun, so I clicked to show interest. It helps that I have just finished my exams. I think it will be a good challenge and I am looking forward to that.

I have entered the Cateran Yomp as an individual - as much as I tried to bully my friends into accompanying me, I couldn’t find anyone who was prepared to do it - so I have been allocated to a team of people on the basis of our estimated times.


Training and Preparation
It is the first time I have entered an event as long as this, so I have been training hard, five or six days a week. I’ve been doing different types of runs, including some tempo runs (10 miles, fast) and longer runs with intervals. And I have done some 15-20 milers at a slower pace, increasing the distance from week to week, until the last few days, when I have tapered off the training

It’s important to be prepared as the event will be very hard on the feet, so I have also done quite a bit of research. I have changed my diet a bit, so I now eat more carbs. Also I quit smoking two months ago.

 ABF The Solders' Charity

ABF The Solders' Charity


How long do you expect it to take?
I know that I’ll never run the whole distance, so I am expecting to run and walk. I estimate something between 11 ½ and 13 ½ hours.


What will be the most challenging aspect of the event?
I’d say being able to pace myself, as this is the longest event I have done, so to push myself without getting an injury. Injury is a slight anxiety.


What does achievement look like?
I have said that I will try to finish within 13 ½ hours, but to be honest I just want to finish it in one piece. I am not expecting anything spectacular and I don’t really know how it will pan out, but I’d be chuffed with anything less than 14 hours.

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Team Sanfo x Kailas and XTrail Altay Expedition 2018

In early June, Chinese team Sanfo x Kailas Adventure Racing are entering XTrail Altay Expedition 2018, an adventure race in the Xinjiang region of north-western China. The team has competed in multi-sport events together before and they raced the short course of Altay Expedition 2017, but this is their first expedition length adventure race and they are the first Chinese team to enter a race this long.

First staged in 2016, Altay Expedition is a 600-kilometre non-stop, unsupported adventure race for mixed teams of four. Disciplines for 2018 include trekking, mountain-biking, rafting, rope-work and of course navigation, through desert and mountainous terrain. The winners are expected to finish in around three days and the course will remain open for six days. There is a short course of 300 km.

We talked to team captain Wang Bing, aka Nathan, himself a race organiser for event management companies, about the teams hopes and fears for the forthcoming race.

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First a bit of Form
Wang Bing: We established our team in 2013 at university and since then we have raced in many different types of events, including orienteering and multi-sport races and some events that last over multiple days, often 200-240 kilometres long.

XTrail Altay 2018 is our first expedition-length adventure race. I have been a fan of the sport since 2013, but 2017 was the first time the team took part in an actual adventure race, the Altay short course. Three of the members from the original team remain and Chen Jie, our female racer, joined us in 2017. We have competed in three races together since then.


Why Altay 2018?  Why now?
I always wondered if I would have the chance to compete in an adventure race one day – and then in 2016, XTrail brought ARWS and the first expedition length adventure race to China. My wife was pregnant at the time, so I wasn’t able to enter. But there was no way I was going to miss Altay 2017. We entered the Open category in order to gain some race experience and we ended up winning it. The 2018 race gives us a chance to enter an expedition length race.

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Adventure racing is still quite a niche sport in China at the moment and XTrail is the only real adventure race in the country. For that reason so it is exciting to be the first Chinese team to be involved.


The Team
Kailas x Sanfo Adventure Racing developed out of an orienteering team from our university, so most of us are strong on map-reading and navigation. The other team members we met at other races. We all like multi-sports and adventure racing, and we have good levels of relevant skills such as MTB, trail running and rope technique. The most important thing is that we all get along well.

None of us has any experience of a race as long as this, but we have done our homework, watching videos and interviews about AR. Mo, one of our teammates, was a sweeper in a previous Altay race, so perhaps that will help a bit. Our team consists of myself, Wang Bing, captain and back up navigator, Li Chong, main navigator, Chen Jie and Mo Zhiwang, who we call the pack horse.


The physical side
We train individually during the week, usually running, and then we train together as much as we can at the weekends. We usually go out trail running, mountain-biking and kayaking.

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What strategies do you have for food, sleep, problem-sharing within the team?
To be honest, without previous experience, it is hard to know exactly how to manage the food we will need for the race. We will make sure to carry enough energy gels and bars with us, but also each team-member will take food that they like to eat.

On sleep, we are not setting out to be the team to beat, our goal is to finish, so we will probably take 3-4 hours sleep each day, and we may decide on shorts naps out on course - I think that’s the best way forward rather than sleeping for longer stretches.

Problem solving depends on what occurs. If it’s an issue of navigation, then we will put our trust in the two navigators. If they can’t reach a decision, then it’s the captain’s call.

 
What will be the most challenging aspect of the race?
The most daunting aspect of the race is the unknown, and the endurance needed to finish a race 600 kilometres long. With no direct experience, we can only prepare on what we find out from others. Things often don’t to plan in an adventure race, but then that is one of the things that gives the sport its character and makes it attractive.

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What are your general expectations (about the competition)?
Our main goal is to finish the full course of the race, because no Chinese team has finished a 600km race in China before. The only reason we would opt for the short course would be because of safety.


What are your expectations of Altay and the course design?
I have been to Altay once and the landscape there is fantastic, with wonderful views and amazing variety. It is also culturally rich, with different nationalities, so that will be interesting. I know the race director, who has plenty of experience organizing events of this kind, and having seen what he created last year, I think the course will be physically challenging and magnificent because of the location.


What of adventure Racing in China?
Adventure racing is a new sport in China, and because of the length of the events and the many skills that racers must have, not many people dare to take part in it. But just as marathon, trail running and triathlon have become more popular in China, so I am sure people will become inspired to take part. And maybe shorter-distance races will appear which are suitable for beginners, to enable to sport to grow.

See the XTrail Expedition Altay website here.

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Nathan Fa'avae and Altay 2018, Xinjiang

The members of Team Avaya from New Zealand, led by Nathan Fa’avae, are some of the most accomplished and experienced adventure racers the sport has seen. As Team Seagate they have dominated the race scene for the past five years, winning a string of world championships and other major races. Before that, between 2002 and 2005, interviewee Nathan Fa’avae had dominated the sport in an earlier incarnation of Team Seagate.

Recreated in 2018 with different sponsorship, the new Team Avaya consists of Nathan Fa’avae, Stuart Lynch, Chris Forne and Joanna Williams (from Ireland). They will be entering XTrail Altay, a 600 kilometre event to be held in the remote Altay region of Xinjiang region of north-western China. The race is for mixed teams of four and will involve hiking, mtb, paddling, ropework and demanding navigation.  

This particular team has raced together once before, in 2016, again as Team Seagate, when they won the ARWS final held in Shoalhaven Australia. The other members of the team, without interviewee Nathan Fa’avae, have experience of the race, having won first place at Altay 2017.

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First a bit of Form
Nathan Fa’avae: Like most teams, ours has evolved over time. I began adventure racing in 1999, Chris and Stu both started about the same time in 2005 and Jo Williams began her AR in 2010. The core of the team started racing together in 2011 and so we have many seasons behind us, but as people retire or move on, members are replaced. The Avaya team in Altay will be the same group of four that won ARWC2016.
 

What are your favourite memories in 20 years of adventure racing?
To be honest, that can change depending on my mood and what I’m thinking about, but I always have fond memories of winning the 2012 ARWC in France. That felt like a very hard fought win and as a team we had to use all our skills and wisdom to come out on top. GODZone is always a great event and we always enjoy racing in NZ, for lots of reasons, but there is also appeal in travel and exploring faraway places, so we like to visit the different events and soak in what each race has to offer. Most of the races in the ARWS are good events.


Why XTrail Altay? Why now?
I have not raced Altay before so I was keen to go there - the rest of the team won the event last year and they had a fun trip. The location sounds amazing and the prize money helps too. For me, the timing of a race is almost the most important factor, June is quiet for me so it’s a good time to travel for a race. I’ve raced in China many times and always enjoy the trips up there. Often we choose races that complement the build up to the ARWC finals.

 Team Seagate in Altay in 2017

Team Seagate in Altay in 2017


How do you approach the physical side?
These days, my main goal is to stay fit and healthy year round, and then 6 weeks before a race I make a concerted effort, training 20-25 hours per week and entering some small events to build speed. The team trains individually, but we often see each other at other events around NZ. We’ve just come off the NZ summer, so I think everyone is in good shape. GODZone was a good step towards Altay (Team Avaya took fourth but stated they were not there to win). I find it takes about 6-weeks to fully recover from a big race like that.


Preparation and Strategies
To be honest, I think we’ve all raced enough now that preparation is second nature, so not much thought goes into it. We know what we need and it’s just a matter of checking it. There is normally a barrage of emails pre-race and that seems to work!

 Nathan Fa'avae, courtesy ARWS

Nathan Fa'avae, courtesy ARWS

Chris leads the navigation. He learned a lot about Altay last year and is keen to improve on his performance. As team captain I tend to think about the overall strategy and facilitate those chats within the team.

As far as sleep goes, we tend to take it if and when we need it. I sense we’re a team that sleeps more than most. After years of racing and suffering without enough sleep, we prefer to take the sleep when we need it rather than try and push through. We like to get 2-4 hours per night, though often we push through the first night.


What will be the most challenging aspect of the event?
The environment and the competition, I suspect. We are aware that many top teams want to win the race and they will be a challenge to beat. If the weather is extreme, hot or cold, that will make it hard. I have also heard the insects can be swarming.


Anything you are concerned about?
I think everyone is concerned they have done the training they need not to let the team down. We are a very supportive team and encourage each other, but we also want to pull our weight and feel valued and useful too. We are always a bit wary about any special tests that appear in AR; they can be quite random.


What are your general expectations?
I think the country and terrain will be really fascinating. This being my first time in Xinjiang, I think it’ll be very engaging. The racing will be close I think.

 Wild Xinjiang terrain, Xtrail Altay

Wild Xinjiang terrain, Xtrail Altay


What does achievement look like? What factors could affect your performance on the day?
Ultimately, a satisfying race for us is not making mistakes. That’s our base line goal, to race like the champion team we are. If we win, great; if we get beaten, fair play to the winners. But what we really dislike is finishing knowing we made errors that we shouldn’t have made; that’s just frustrating. I am confident we can race competitively, how it all ends up we’ll have to see.


What does adventure mean to you?
I enjoy the dynamic lifestyle, the unknowns, the problem solving, the new experiences. When we’re in China, I can imagine biking along a remote road, sun setting, amazing views and saying to myself “Wow! How incredible is this…?” We’re out there on an adventure, in a foreign location, in a remote part of the world, with mates, doing the things we enjoy.

 

 Fa'avae at the finish line, courtesy ARWS

Fa'avae at the finish line, courtesy ARWS

 

 

Team Endurancelife and Expedition Africa 2018

Team Endurancelife will be entering Expedition Africa 2018, a 530 kilometre adventure race in the Namaqua region of South Africa in late May 2018. They are an experienced British team with a range of races under their belt both individually and often together, including GodZone, Itera and significantly, Expedition Africa 2015 held in Swaziland.

Expedition Africa will involve hiking, mountain biking, paddling, some rope-work, canyoning and some swimming, as well as significant navigation. The organisers, Kinetic Events, expect the quickest teams to complete the course in 72 hours. It is a competitive field of 50 teams. We spoke about hopes and expectations for the event with Endurance Life team leader Gary Davies, a man after our own heart as he admits to watching old films of Eco-Challenge for motivation.

 Photo credit: Bruce Viaene

Photo credit: Bruce Viaene

First a bit of Form
Team Endurancelife is made up of Gary Davies, 40, Natalie Taylor, 33, Phil Scarf, at an estimable 55 years old, and Tom Davies, no relation, 39, each of whom has competed in plenty of international races, though not always together, over a decade or so. Tom joined the squad in 2016, but he has international race experience over many years. Their highest places as a team in international races have been 6th in Itera 2014 in Wales and 7th in Expedition Africa 2015, “which given the illness of one of our team members and the number of mistakes we made, could have been higher”, says Davies.

In January of this year, team member Natalie Taylor was part of a team of six women from the British Armed Forces who crossed Antarctica using muscle power alone, a trip covering more than 1000 miles in 62 days.

Their team sponsor, Endurancelife, is the trail race company, which stages many events up to 50 miles, often along the British coastline.
 

 Natalie Taylor and Gary Davies

Natalie Taylor and Gary Davies

Why Expedition Africa? Why now?
Gary Davies
: I haven’t done a multi-day expedition race for a couple of years after a biking accident and in 2017 I concentrated on running, but I found I missed the passion of adventure racing and I realized I wanted to return to Expedition Africa for 2018. Phil, Nat and I all raced there in 2015 and they felt the same. Basically I love the climate in southern Africa and Kinetic are brilliant organisers. The event is also quite economic as international races go.


The physical side
We live all over the country and we haven’t actually managed a single day’s training all together in preparation for this race. Natalie and I did go out mountain biking and paddling together on one occasion, but otherwise all our training has been done individually. We’re experienced enough to know what’s needed and we trust one another to arrive at the start line in a fit state to compete.


Preparation
Planning is quite similar, as we all know what we need to bring. We’ve had three tele-conferences in which we decided on the right gear and agreed common goals and objectives. After that it’s all done by spreadsheet in the cloud – who’s taking what team kit. We communicate by email and what’s app.

 Tom Davies

Tom Davies

Unlike most teams, we have three navigators. Phil is the primary foot navigator. He comes from an orienteering background and he is very strong on navigating in the mountains. I am stepping back and Tom will be primary bike navigator. As team leader my job this time will be to keep up the urgency and momentum in the team, so that we keep the pressure up.  Natalie’s job is to keep us efficient in the transitions. When we arrive in a change-over, she will tell us how long we have and hold us to it.

We have decided on strategies for some aspects of the race. We’re pretty clear about how we’ll manage our sleep. We probably won't sleep on the first night, and then after that we will try to make sure that every member of the teams gets two hours of good sleep each night, usually in the graveyard shift between 2 and 4 am. But we’re clear that everyone must be getting good sleep. If not, then we all get up and carry on. Other teams have a policy of pinching 30 and 40 minute naps, but that hasn’t worked for us.

On food, Nat and I divide our food into six-hour bags, for instance, and once we have an estimate of the time a leg will take, we simply grab as many bags as we need. It saves time. Because we each arrange our own food, there is a certain ‘food envy’ out on the course, when we see what other people have. Then we swap it among ourselves. Variety is important in the food in adventure racing.

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We recognise individual strategies for coping when people are feeling down. Some people become withdrawn. When Natalie’s feeling down, she likes to talk to herself to bring herself out of it.


Is there anything you are apprehensive about?
Tom has unfortunately got shin-splints and so we know that he is likely to suffer on the walking sections, though we don’t know how much yet. He is telling us that he’ll just have to “man the f**k up…”


What are your expectations for the race
The logistics are well organised at Expedition Africa and the facilities in the transitions are very good, sometimes in a nice resort. Which makes it something to look forward and quite tempting to stay for longer than you need. The top teams will be making sure not to spend too long there.

It seems that paddling will be limited, because there has been a drought, and so the core of the race will be trekking and mountain bike riding, which suits us as paddling is not our strongest suit.

The field is large, with 50 full teams, and it looks stronger than in 2015, so it could be very competitive.

 photo Bruce Viaene

photo Bruce Viaene


What does achievement look like?
Our primary goal is to get through the course as a complete team of four. There’s no point in going all out and then someone dropping on Day 3 or 4. Beyond that we would like to get a top 10 finish. The dream is a top 5 place.


What does adventure mean to you?
It’s about being in the wilderness, almost in isolation from the normal world, away from work, tech and life’s other concerns, right out there in nature, doing things you wouldn’t normally do, doing things that Joe Public doesn’t get the opportunity to do. And being out there among friends. It’s a fantastic feeling.

Read more about Expedition Africa.

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Namaqua recce

Looking Forward to... Expedition Africa 2018

Team Sleepy Dragons is entering Expedition Africa, a full-length adventure race to be held in the Namaqua Region of South Africa in late May. It is a 540-kilometre, non-stope event for teams of two and four (single or mixed sex), with disciplines to include trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and ropework. As always there is a strong component of navigation and this year there will be some swimming (across rivers) and canyoning as well. Namaqua is located on the Atlantic coast of South Africa, some 500 kilometres north of Cape Town, so it is remote and unpopulated country. The race is organised by Kinetic Events and forms part of the Adventure Racing World Series.

This is the first expedition length adventure race for Team Sleepy Dragons, which consists of husband and wife David and Kay Naylor, and Diane Shearer and Jonathan Tucker, both long-time fans of the outdoors. Although the team has completed some short adventure races (120km), they are looking forward, and a little apprehensive, about stepping up to expedition length.

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First a bit of Form
David Naylor
: It all started with Kay (at the time we were just dating).  After triathlons and outdoor sports, our first event was the Kinetic Adventure Race (25km) in the middle of winter at Emmarentia, Johannesburg.  It was cold and half-way through the race I went flying over my handlebars on a tar road.  I had to pull out but Kay finished the race with her brother. 

Needless to say, we were back for the next Kinetic Adventure Race, competing for two seasons under the name Roomba Robots and a third with the name Galloping Giraffes.  That’s when we decided to do the Kinetic Full Moon race (120km) in Parys, South Africa.  We joined up with friends from the team Those People (creating Those Giraffes).  One of our team members had only recently learnt to cycle.

 David and Kay Naylor

David and Kay Naylor

This first longer race was a quite an eye opener to what longer distance adventure racing involves.  And, we did all the things novices do:
 - We got "lost" (we took the long way to a checkpoint, um… unintentionally)
 - Arrived at the transition after the first long leg and just collapsed (after cycling on corrugated dirt roads - an absolute nightmare). 
 - Took 1.5 hours to take a 20 minute nap

But, we made it to the finish line, after a beautiful sunrise, and in a respectable time. Jonathan was also taking part in that, although we didn't know him at the time. 

The next year (2017), we changed our name to Sleepy Dragons, and Kay and I completed the 120km Magoebaskloof half Double Moon as a pair.  That was a stunningly beautiful course, with forests, mountain ranges, mist and a new discipline in adventure racing: tree climbing.  On the second trek leg we needed to go up the side of a mountain through a tree plantation that had suffered a fire.  The easiest route appeared to be to follow the road, but the burned trees had fallen in the wind and it was impassible. Which meant we had to climb through the dead trees, almost horizontally.  Quite a surreal experience. 

We decided to do the expedition length race and started looking for teammates to join us under Sleep Dragons.  We knew Diane through Scouts and we found Jonathan through Heidi Muller of Kinetic Adventures.  We then completed the Kinetic Full Moon adventure race (again in Parys, Diane's first race and Jonathan's second) as a team.  We came first in the series log for the Kinetic Adventure Race (25km) season of 2017.  In 2018 the team has already done the Kinetic Full Moon adventure race in Swaziland. 

So the members of Team Sleepy Dragons have always been into sport and the outdoors and we love the physical and mental challenges that adventure racing brings. Diane came from a running background: she is extremely fit and enjoys pushing herself to her limits in the mountains – she just never seems to stop... She has always had her eye on the longer AR races so once she found a team, she didn't take much convincing. Jonathan is also interested in all kinds of outdoor activities and his job is to take youth on life changing expeditions. Although he has done two fewer Kinetic Full Moon races than Kay and me, he is very experienced with rope work and paddling, and he is a strong navigator, so he brings quite a bit to the team.

 Team Sleepy Dragons in 2017

Team Sleepy Dragons in 2017

Why Expedition Africa? Why now?
It was logical (if not rational…).  After completing the two Full Moon adventure races, I reasoned were not going to get any fitter if we didn't commit to doing the race.  It was on our TO DO list and, well... there was no reason not to. 

Why Expedition Africa specifically?  Heidi and Stephan have been doing a lot for AR around Johannesburg and we have always enjoyed their events.  It was just natural for us to do our first expedition length AR with them. 
 

The physical side
We know it is going to be tough and at some point it will be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. We hope that our training will make it a little less painful and the beautiful area we’re racing in will take our mind off how tough it is.

Most of our training is on the weekends and involves long sessions of running/trekking/ cycling and a bit of paddling. Interestingly our programme has evolved.  We recently did a 3 hour cycle ride, which at the start of our training programme would have been quite a long session but now we consider this quite short. Elsewhere we go to a personal trainer twice a week for strength exercises. 

We also went to a skills training camp run by Jabberwock, which was very useful.  They gave us a lot of tips on surviving an expedition and did a great job of training us on mapping and rope work.


 Expedition Africa

Expedition Africa

Planning and Strategies
After our first 120km race, the next one seemed much less overwhelming and we were much better prepared for what was coming. I think the story may be the same with Expedition Africa, as a race this long is very unfamiliar territory. So far, the planning has mostly been about getting to the start with sufficient gear and a good mental attitude and then seeing how it goes from there. Something I have thought a lot about is the balance between moving and resting (most teams, it seems, take minimum rest).  We are planning on 4 hours of sleep a night at the moment. We have said we will keep eating, even if we don’t feel like it.

What will be the most challenging aspect event?
Kay has done a lot of research into expedition length adventure racing and there is definitely a lack of information out there.  We've had so many questions to answer, from how much training does one need, to how to handle cycling lights (over 6 nights). 

 Expedition Africa recce in Namaqua

Expedition Africa recce in Namaqua

Initially, I think it will be tough to pace ourselves properly - to go slow enough.  To date, in our shorter races we have generally gone all out.  I also think night navigation will be quite a challenge. It could easily set us back if we get a bit lost (or a lot).

We have been warned repeatedly about keeping our transition times down - our last adventure race was quite good in some respects, but the transitions were still 20 minutes each.  Otherwise I think it is about being resilient and going at a steady sustainable pace.  Physically we have prepared as best we can (except maybe in paddling...). 


What are your general expectations?
The maps we've glanced at show three mountain ranges, so a lot of elevation - and some stunning views.  The area is also known for its lack of water and very barren landscape.  This can lead to hot days and cold nights: explicit water planning will be required.  The Kinetic races are generally well organised so I expect the transitions to be traps of luxury (hot drinks and beds to tempt us). 

I think physically it is going to get very tough after the first 2 days.  Legs are going to be sore, feet might become an issue and sleep deprivation can make even simple arithmetic difficult ("so, the map says we need to go 3 centimetres, which on a scale of 1:50000 is 1.5km, and moving speed of 15m/km on this terrain it will be…" When you’re tired, sums as simple as this take about 5 minutes to compute). 

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What does achievement look like?
Our primary goal is to finish the full route (without short coursing) within the 6.5 day cut-off time. 


What does adventure mean to you?
To me adventure racing captures modern life in so many of its dimensions:
 - Equipment: although we go out into the wilderness "alone" we take with us everything 21st century humanity has to offer: GPS tracker, modern fibres, shoe design, maps, etc.  It has certainly made the sport more accessible (and in some case - I think – more doable). 
 - Preparation: one of the defining characteristics of being human is the ability to plan ahead - and adventure racing certainly requires lots of fore-planning, and...
 - Skill: a diverse range of skills, from map and compass navigation and 1st aid to mechanic. 
 - Team: Another very human thing is the ability to function as a group, as a team.  And to be more effective as a group than individually. 

I also think it requires us to embrace some aspects of life that sometimes the modern conveniences can allow us to skirt:
 - Perseverance: the sheer will, perseverance and endurance required to keep moving for days on end is diametrically opposed to modern convenience. 
 - Resilience: we go with what we have and have to make do.  We need to be both prepared with tools and skill to ensure we can overcome anything that happens to us (be it a broken bike, or physical injury). 

Finally I remember very distinctly the first time I finished a (medium distance) adventure race and that subtle change in attitude it brought.  There were two key things, first the reassurance that I can do really difficult things, and second that some other things in life are nowhere near as important as they seem, despite the demands they make. 

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