Navigational Adventure Race XPD Tasmania 2018 – In just under five days, and with only 9 hours broken sleep, our team of four travelled 541km… mountain biking, running, trekking, and kayaking over some serious elevation in North Eastern Tasmania.
My words alone can not tell the story of this race. They can not take you on a journey through a boulder field to the top of Ben Lomond, and the pristine central plateau. Down a coastal dirt road following your team mates rolling tyre… at a frightening speed… and in a sleep deprived haze. Nor will they take you into the depths of the night, when it is cold and dark, ghosting through remote Tasmanian towns that are soulless, lonely and abandoned.
I fear my words are too ordinary for such journeys. But I can tell my story, my adventure… and hope it helps you feel capable to find your own.
“At the age of 40 I have come to realise that I am actually struggling to know where I am heading. What is it I am really meant to do with my life? Naturally, a team expedition race with three strangers seemed like a perfect getaway from life, and the difficult decisions I was facing”
The journey to this start line began over a decade ago, when I was the one reading about expedition adventure races, and I wanted to be in a team, living that life of adventure. But life went on, I got married, had twins, and attempted a career that saw me crisscross an unusual path between clinical work as an emergency nurse and desk work as a legal practitioner.
I also continually adventured outdoors, my one constant in life – bushwalking, mountaineering, mountain biking, anything that was the true essence of me – the outdoor girl. I am the girl next door who just kept doing what she loved – a lot of consistency and commitment. XPD Tasmania came around, and by chance I was given the opportunity to be part of a team. I had only just completed my first adventure race in January, and although a last minute addition to a team, with no real time to prepare or train, I had a quiet confidence that I would be capable of this kind of race. My proof to myself was that I had the background for this – I was skilled, with countless kilometres of trail running, mountain biking adventures, and races in my legs. I was also a regular to pulling double shifts and raising twins – so the lack of sleep certainly would not be an issue.
This adventure saw me in a team of four, thrown together for the first time with three other emotional beings, and facing physical and mental challenges – combined with sleep deprivation (be sure you pack your thickest skin). Emotions ran hot and there were constant apologies. I quickly learnt you have to be prepared to listen, to let someone else tell you what to do when you lose all sense of yourself and where you are. Equally you need to speak up, be strong and assert yourself when you feel unwell or broken. Admitting you are struggling is not an easy thing.
This race saw me experience many highs and lows, not only in the terrain– but emotionally and physically. I remember crying and hiding my tears from the team during the night. Tears crazily streaming down my dirty face as I trudged slowly behind them through a forest of pink tape. I felt so nauseated and unable to do anything more, other than put one foot in front of the other and watch for that next piece of pink tape, my solid pink life line to the finish line. Life had reduced itself to the simplest of efforts.
I realised being capable comes from breaking the whole down and simplifying it. This experience comes down to one thing – one black tyre going round and round and round for hours on end, one sip of electrolyte after the other, putting one blistered foot in front of the other, paddling on the spot as the tide is against you…one stroke of the paddle after the other. Always just one focus. We rarely get this kind of blissful, simple, peacefulness in life.
When I eventually crossed the finish line I felt capable. More than capable. I realised stepping across the line reassured me of my place in this life. It reassured me that I can do this and more. This race took me on a journey, an adventure, and on the other side of the finish line I carried away all of the knowledge that pushing yourself through a difficult challenge brings.
“The other side of the finish line, at the end of the adventure, gives you a confidence that everything is achievable, and anything is possible. It soothes your worries and reinforces your soul, and it gives you a lifetime of memories to look back on. Quite simply these adventures tell you, you are capable.”
I see you out there too, walking down the street. You and I – we are just the same. We walk past each other every day. Promise me this, seek out your adventure, big or small, and create a lifetime of memories to hold onto… and I promise you – you will realise just how capable you are.
**Kym’s team, the Singapore Changhi Zinga’s crossed the line as 5th premier mixed team. Big love goes to fellow team members Duncan Jessep, Paddy Meldrum and Scott Pugh who discovered they are capable too.
photo credit to XPD Bay of Fires photography team