Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Challenge your abilities

I finished reading Tim Jarvis' book, The Unforgiving Minute, last night. Most enjoyable. The book is about his three unsupported polar expeditions. On one of these he, with fellow adventurer Peter Treseder, achieved the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole. He later did that doccie for NatGeo or Discovery where he followed in Mawson's footsteps using similar equipment and clothing (not described in this book). Tim's website is

A few paragraphs in the last pages of the book echo many adventure racing sentiments. At the finish of Swazi on Sunday I was chatting to a pair who had successfully completed the PRO event; their first distance race. The woman said something about doing something easier next time. I (naturally) replied that they'd completed the toughest race around and with experience from this race their next and next and next would be even easier. I added that if they had never entered the PRO event she would not now know just what she is capable of - and they both looked pretty fresh after 54hrs of tough non-stop racing.

I like what Tim Jarvis has to say about giving things a try.

"... growing up, we find out about ourselves and the world around us by trying things and learning through our expriences. Somewhere along the line, though, the resonsibilities that represent adulthood seem to suppress this 'give it a go' spirit, replacing it with an increased reliance on second-hand sources, and the opinions of others.
That spirit often lies dormant for years, until one day we wake up and look back with regret and no real answer as to why we didn't find time to realise at least one or two dreams. In many cases it's because we're too often told that things are not possible for us, or not as simple as they appear to be. In some cases this is true, but it's dangerous to lump everything together in the same basket. If you do you'll find yourself not trying anything new or challenging at all."

Again I repeat... YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO and you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover just what you're capable of accomplishing. But the only way to discover this is to participate in activities that remove you from what you know and are used to; your mind and body will adapt to something new.

Tim also speaks about breaking these long journeys into manageable chunks. People always gasp when you say that an adventure race is over 250km in distance. But it really is 20km plus 15km plus 60km plus 25km... Psych yourself in, not out. How do you eat an elephant? In small pieces, mouthful by mouthful.

"I've learnt that with all the extreme physical discomfort and danger of these places, survival is as much mental as physical. ... The juxtaposition of the two means that it is important to break down journeys into small, manageable portions to be able to get through them. More than a fleeting contemplation of the whole task would leave you unable to muster the energy to keep going."

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