KONA – THE ADVENTURE
I’m a sucker for punishment. I like taking myself to dark places. I know many people who share this love, but I think it’s likely that most people spend their whole lives trying to avoid these situations. Whereas, I just want to chase them. This is the process that I believe I grow the most from in my life. My career as a professional athlete is just an evolution of that drive. I think we all have experienced key moments in life, where you realise what it is that drives you.
Racing XTERRA back in the days
One of my defining moments was when I was 17 and stuck 16 pitches up the side of a 1800 metre rock face in Italy. There was no way down and the only way to climb out was on grades of rock that neither myself or my climbing partner had ever attempted before.
Even in this situation, I actually felt like mentally everything came together for me. Instead of closing down, the natural ability I had to thrive in this type of environment lit up and my body just responded the way I needed it to. We both made it up the rock pitches, that were well out of our depth and found safety at the top.
Making sure I didn’t leave anything out there – XTERRA Pan American Championships
I’m not an adrenaline junkie and I never wanted to put myself in situations that had dire consequences, but I did want to live on the edge of that line. At a point where I could challenge myself, with the confidence that I wasn’t going to kill myself, if it all went pear shaped. For the next few years, I found myself mostly in the mountains, either rock climbing or mountaineering. These were the sports that provided the environments that provided me those experiences and challenges.
When I started racing several years later, I knew that my reason for wanting to race stemmed from that same drive. When I first started, I was happy to race just about anything, from team adventure racing in China, to trail running, to off road triathlon. Every one of these sports challenged me in different ways and that’s why I started to love racing.
Racing Josiah Middaugh in a sprint finish – XTERRA Pan American Championships
7 years into my career, I find myself racing Ironman. I have realised that Ironman is a sport that requires the ultimate level of dedication. And I believe, that it’s the element of dedication that at some point became, what I thought to be my weakness and thereby the challenge and the adventure. I love so many things in life. I get bored easily and I am prone to FOMO (fear of missing out). I think that’s why I’m here at Kona Ironman World Championships. There is no get out of jail free card in Kona. The athletes that you race in this environment are so talented, but also so dedicated and focused. In my eyes it has gone that step further and I knew as soon as I started down this road 18months ago, that if I kept going with this goal, that it would demand everything of me. You discover more and more, the deeper you become involved in it, about the level of dedication required and just how dedicated the athletes you are racing against.
After finishing Kona last year
I think overcoming last year’s Kona, has been a really big challenge for me. I didn’t have the race I wanted and it left me frustrated. Not because of the result, but because of my inability to race. I have realised now that there is so much to overcome within this race.
Just after finishing Kona 2017
There’s no doubt that racing at this level hurts and I’m not sure how other athletes approach racing, but I believe that there are many athletes who don’t ever get into the deepest dark box that they are capable of going into. Last year I didn’t get that chance. That was the hardest pill to swallow.
I believe in what my body is capable of and I want to race at that limit, with the confidence that my body will tolerate it. I believe the guys winning these big races are pushing the limits well beyond what anyone would believe is possible, pretty much to the point of collapse. And that’s the challenge of the sport that drives me. I know it’s a fine line that inspires fear in the best of us. Consequences sit right there on the precipice of completely blowing up. This is the challenge now. In the wise words of the great Marshall Matthews…..
Till I Collapse
“Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength.
And just pull that sh…t out of you and get that motivation to not give up.
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you just wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.
In a few days’ time, you can ask me how much I enjoyed those dark places and what I learnt this time around. I know it’s coming, I know I am going to suffer, but I know it will bring out the best in me whether that’s as a good result, or as an athlete or just as a person in life.
All or nothing – After finishing 1st at Ironman Cairns last June © Korupt Vision