– What it feels like to cross the finish line as the ARWS champion for the third time?
Finishing any adventure race is a sense of relief that you can finally stop, rest and sleep, the ARWC is no different. It was great to finish and even better to win. We raced a really smart and sensible race and it was great to be rewarded for that. Winning a 3rd world title was special, it means a lot to us as New Zealand athletes to be the first people to win three titles, we are very happy.
-What does a typical day look like for you?
I have three young children who are at school so I tend to train while they are at school so when they finish school I can spend time with them. That means I work mainly early in the mornings and in the evenings. I like to train about 4-hours per day and when possible I train 2-sports per day. In the winter I snow ski most days.
– Do you perform some kind of special training? How do you prepare yourself for a race all along the year?
I don’t do any special training but I would like to if I have time. At my peak racing years 1999-2005 I trained a lot different than I do now, but back then racing was all I did. Now I have a family and two companies to manage so I can’t train and prepare like I used to, but I’m also not the athlete I used to be, it’s just a reality of life, I do what I can and I do my best.
Photo Credit: Sven Åke Nordenmark
– We met you in Spain, walking barefoot. Do you remember the first night that it didn’t stop raining and we were cold?
I was freezing cold in Spain, it was terrible! I expected the race to be hot so I did not have gear suitable for such cold weather, I got really exhausted that first night and I don’t think I really recovered for the rest of the race.-
– What is the best experience you can remember from an adventure race?
There are so many moments it’s very hard to choose one, but I do have strong memories of the Dream Raid in New Caledonia in 2009. I was in a double kayak with Sophie doing an open ocean paddling section, it was moon lit night but with plenty of stars shining, the air and water was warm, the classic tropics, we were getting some nice waves to surf, it was so peaceful, I said to Sophie at the time “this is why I adventure race”
– What was the hardest moment?
Any race when you’re sick is hard, real hard. I have had to race while dealing with illness and that is the biggest challenge, altitude sickness or other illnesses, during those times all you want to do is have a bath and go to bed, but instead you have to do an adventure race.
– And the moment that any lover of adventure racing should live in your opinion?
Racing in New Zealand, it is the spiritual home of adventure racing, it was where the sport begun and it has been the Kiwi’s that have perfected it and set the benchmark for the rest of the world to aspire to. Kiwi athletes have trained many international athletes by racing with them. NZ is a really amazing country and if you’re an adventure racer, it is the pilgrimage.
– How do you think the adventure racing world has evolved since 2010? Which direction should the adventure racing take in your opinion”
I started adventure racing in 1999 so I have seen the sport develop for a long time. I’ve actually been involved since the start in 1989 because I had many friends racing from that time on. I think the sport is heading in the right direction and there are many good things happening. The ARWS and ARWC is a greta concept and much better that the past when there were just a handful of independent events running. There are still many improvements but I know the biggest limiting factor is sponsorship and the how the business side of AR is managed. Currently there are a lot of self appointed adventure racing experts running events and competing, but many of them need to be more humble and seek more guidance. There are to many different versions of AR happening within the ARWS. With a major sponsor I can see everything becoming more consolidated. Ultimately having a management team that travels to all ARWS events to work with the local race promoter will be good, shipping decent kayaks, tracking devices and other equipment from one race to the next – but it does require the golden egg sponsor to make it happen I suspect.
– For the rest of the runners, teams like yours appear to be from another world. What do you think is the reason underlying the gap between these top-teams and the rest?
I think we know how to train and prepare better, I have heard some teams say some crazy stuff and about training and preparing for Adventure Racers. I do believe to that the slower teams are slower because they don’t feel any pressure to be faster. I think the whole sport could be adjusted so that most the teams are moving faster. I think a good model would be that when the leading teams reaches a TA that starts a timer which opens the TA for 48-hours. After 48-hours the TA closes. This means all teams must stay within 48-hours of the leading team so they need to keep moving.
Photo Credit: Aya Kubota
– On our website, there are many reports about women’s participation in the world of adventure. Among them, there is one that has shared several races with you in recent years. What can you tell us about Sophie Hart? What about other woman participants that you have met?
Sophie is an incredible athlete and a huge reason why our team has won so many races and have been considered the fastest team in the world since 2011. I honestly think she is the best female adventure racer the world has seen, just ahead of Kathy Lynch and Kristina Anglem both from New Zealand. I think NZ females are so strong and skilled because of the Coast to Coast race. They become exceptional mountain runners, river kayakers and cyclists so when they do adventure racing they are ultra fast and strong. Sophie is the fastest women to have raced the Coast to Coast. Added to her sporting prowess, she is also very smart, she works as a Doctor and has a lovely personality. She is fun to be around and is always very positive. Because she works full time she has a really good balanced lifestyle between training, racing and sport.
– If case you had to organize an adventure race, what would you do to let participants to enjoy the race? How can we achieve a broader dissemination of the event?
If I was organising a race my focus would be doing lots of fun adventure sport. I find a lot of races these days have a lot of long boring stages, and often the races themselves are to long. A lot of races, especially the ARWC, the pre race stuff is to long, often a whole day is wasted doing gear checks and welcome ceremonies, I dislike that. For teams travelling a long way it’s expensive to have the team in a foreign country for a day, so wasted days and wasted money. I would like to see more fun, more technical stages in adventure race courses.
-Maybe it is too soon, but in which races we will be able to see you this year. Are you going to participate in the organization of any races or related events?
We will race Godzone in February and maybe Tierra Viva in Chile in April, then we’ll be at the ARWC in Brazil at the end of the year. Added to that we’ll do local events for training and enjoyment.
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