My Journey

The Traditional Life

I currently sit at a crossroads. Sitting as opposed to standing because I have a pretty big decision to make. One which requires a seat. You have all been there. Two options at my feet. To follow the road my parents and countless others took before me;  university, job, house, marriage, kids or the latter, to forge my own way with no plan except to get out and explore the world, figuring out the direction as I go. But something which I cannot pinpoint has stopped me choosing thus far. However, If I continue to ignore this feeling that is pushing me to claw my way out of my comfort zone I fear I will never be happy knowing that I folded?

I cannot fairly place one person on a podium when the audience is filled with similarly achieved individuals. But in my life, one guy stood on his own and changed the path that I was hurtling down. You may have already heard of him, his name is Dave Cornthwaite. He gave me the option of a crossroads, the one which I now sit. Usually people don’t stop to think about the line they are following, they just go with it. I have stopped and I am questioning it. At first I wrote about incredible people like Dave to fill a void- so as I could phase out the fact that I am not out there doing these things myself  but from here on in I will walk or run or kayak the path I have been preaching my whole life.

Sailer, Kayaker, Skateboarder, Stand up Paddleboarder, bikecar cyclist, sleeps 6 hours a night Adventurer extraordinare Dave Cornthwaite set me free with the lines; “It’s taken about 5 years to get to the point where I stop dreaming about all the things we think we’re supposed to have like a house and a car and a bunch of stuff and a big TV. For me I need to do what I love and I can’t do that by living your average, stable lifestyle with a steady job and income. I’d be miserable doing that, I was! I need to be on the move, so compromise everything I grew up thinking I needed. For a few years there that was unsettling, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

For the next generation of Adventurers climbing up the ranks aiming to build on what past explorers have achieved. Those who want to beat their records and explore what they have not yet discovered. This is the How to Guide built around what Dave Cornthwaite has taught me:

  • The first is a welcome fact; it all becomes a whole lot easier after the first expedition -“It’s never easy, there’s always a battle but if you stick to your guns the accumulated experience, contacts, relationships and ability naturally makes the whole process a bit slicker.”The first ever expeditions he went on (Longboard Australia) took 13 months to plan. Rather reassuringly it now takes Dave about 3-6 weeks to whip one up.
  • His essential items to pack –  MacBook Pro, Powergorilla and Passport.
  • A note on sponsors; they play a huge role –  “I’ve never had anyone write me a big cheque to do a journey so I rely on new and old sponsors to support me with gear, which is always the most costly part of an expedition. Without their support I’d be paddling, skating and swimming naked, which wouldn’t be fair on anyone. Big lesson here though: look after your sponsors, always!”
  • Social media is the most important part of it – “I’m in love with the creative storytelling side of adventure. New things happen every day so there’s unlimited material, and with so many mediums and ways to share these stories I’m in heaven.”
  • You will need to market yourself to a potential sponsor and the outside world –  “I’m just me. It’s important to be honest and open, and human. Some people think these endurance events are only achievable if you’re a true athlete but I’m not, I just love life, appreciate keeping fit and I just happen to have a stubborn streak that takes over when my body is angry with me. We’re all unique so if we be ourselves instead of worrying about what people think of us then we have a unique brand, if we want.”

Everything stated above form’s the backbone of an expedition but the real pull lies in the raw tales of his conquests.

Dave recently travelled via bikecar from Memphis to Miami. He covered on average 45.5 miles per day on a vehicle that weighed more than twenty bikes, slept on his hammock by night, swam with Manatees, got knocked off the road by an oncoming vehicle, ate fried food, didn’t shower for 5 days at one stage, ate more fried food and met hundreds of new people with their own stories to tell.

In the days just before the bikecar expedition, Dave descended the Wolf River in Memphis on a Stand Up Paddleboard. The river runs 105 miles through swamp and back-country before dropping into the Mississippi River in Memphis.” Nobody have ever gone the full length in one because of the swamps and copious amounts of lethal snakes .It was just a cool challenge. It was an obstacle course. Trees across the river every few metres, beaver dams, cypress knees, snakes everywhere. Good people. Camping on the banks. Loved it.”

And now, come August 10th he will pull on his Orca 3.8 wetsuit and swim 1000miles of the Missouri River from Chamberlain, South Dakota to St Louis, Missouri. The crew of 6 will voyage for 50 days. Dave himself has, as always practically zero training done, referring to his swimming abilities as; “a fine doggy paddle”

Final question Dave; are you excited? His response; “Like never before.”

Me = Sold.

Decision made.

 

Follow the trip via @DaveCorn and www.facebook.com/expedition1000

Follow @orlaomuiri

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Adventure, Interviews

Interview with Lauren Rains – Co-founder of Outdoor Minded Magazine

Age: 24
Occupation: Creator of Outdoor Minded Mag
Home: Soon-be-to Colorado


1. It sounds like you lead a busy life – co-founder and editor-in-chief of Outdoor Minded Mag, organizer the 50 Mile Walk for Tomorrow’s World Changers, The Cigarette Mile, the list goes on…
What else can I add to that?

I have always had an unbreakable and sometimes a bit of an overwhelming tendency to dabble in many things. I’m a project addict in every area of my life from adventuring to business.
I’ve started writing a regular column for OMM called A Runner’s Journal which is part travelogue, part recalling life lessons, part memoir as I go from non-runner to runner.
I’m also starting a video series on my blog The Mad To Live in which I give my own 15 minute TED Talk-inspired speeches. One of my bucket list goals is to one day speak at a TEDx event, and this is my way of training and practicing for it.

 

2.What made you choose to pursue a life in adventure as opposed to going the traditional route?

I’m not sure if it was a choice, but rather just who I am, though believe me, sometimes I wish it was more of a choice! Don’t get me wrong, a life based on adventure has helped me to grow as an individual, understand the world as a whole, and figure out just who I am at my root. But with adventure comes life lessons, and those aren’t always so easy to. It’s what had me say goodbye to my best friends in the US to begin a new life in Beijing, China for a year. It’s what’s led to many Friday and Saturday nights spent in to work on parts of my various business endeavors, something I love but still a trade-off.
However, for me there is just no other way. I get complacent very easily, so variety and experimenting keeps me feeling alive.

 

3. You read 52 books every year – impressive- how do you find the time and why do you read so much?

I have to be honest with you, the month of May I totally slipped up so now I’m in overdrive! I’m currently reading Writing Down The Bones, a book on exploring the craft of writing, The $100 Startup which is a book of case studies of successful entrepreneurs and how they did it, rereading Eat Prey Love because what can I say it’s a great book, and Permission Marketing by one of my favorite writers, marketers and entrepreneurs Seth Godin.

 

4.What is your favourite book?

Hmmm… very tough question. I suppose its The Alchemist. I read it for the first time when I was 20 years old and it had a huge impact on me. I loved it so much I reread it in Spanish when I was living in Argentina. The lessons in that book about trusting in yourself and the universe are ones I’ve kept in check all along as I’ve been navigating my way through the craziness that life can be.

 

5.You have composed a bucket list and it is awesome. How long did it take you to finalize it?

My bucket list has, and always will be, a work in progress. But if I had to pick 1 starting point, there was this night back in 11th grade that I couldn’t sleep. I had a big chemistry test the next day and I was nervous. FInally, out of frustration, I decided I would make a list of exactly 100 goals for myself. And I did. I guess that was my first official bucket list. I also think I got a B on that test so it was a good night!

-How do you go about writing a bucket list?
The first thing I did was I broke my life down into a few categories:
1.) Entrepreneurship & Passion Projects 2.) Fitness & Health 3.) Micro & Macro Advenures 4.) World Travel 5.) Contribute to the World 6.) Passionately Curious Endeavors

Some of these belong on all of our bucket lists, such as fitness & health and contributing to the world, while others are more unique to me and my values. I think its important to think about your life in terms of these various categories, and work at keeping each of them in constant progress in order to achieve the most balance.
After I had the categories, I just kept adding to each one. Still to this day I hear of the pursuits of others and think to myself, “I must do this too!” and it goes on my bucket list.

-I especially love some of the adventure section:

  • SUP (Stand Up Paddle) A LONG STRETCH OF A RIVER
  • MOTORCYCLE TRIP THROUGH AMERICA
  • SEE THE WORLD FROM THE SKY
  • 180 DEGREES SOUTH INSPIRED BOAT TRIP
  • RAFT THE COLORADO RIVER
  • GO SAND-BOARDING IN THE DESERT

-How did you come up with such specific ones?

I told myself to be specific and particular. What, precisely, do I see myself doing when I close my eyes and travel? For one to say, “I want to travel and adventure around the world” is not enough. Sure, it’s a start, but it’s not measurable and there are billions of ways to be a traveler, adventurer, entrepreneur, etc.

What kind of traveler and adventurer am I? I’m an explorer. I love to move. I love to see new things. I love to challenge myself physically and mentally. I don’t want to only SUP around oceans and lakes because its beautiful, but rather I want to see how far I can SUP a river, or how fast I can cross a lake.


6. Is money ever a factor in achieving these goals?

Of course it is. Those that say that money doesn’t matter aren’t quite accurate. Money won’t buy your happiness, but it sure as hell will help you buy the tools you need to do what you need to do. A SUP costs $600 at the MINIMUM. A plain ticket to Beijing from the US is $500. I want new rock climbing shoes – that’s $100 minimum, and a crash pad – that’s $150 minimum. Oh, and let’s not forget food and rent and birthday gifts and weddings and transportation. All those things are and have been essential to my happiness and self-growth, and most of them aren’t free.

The most important thing, when it comes to money, unless you have a boatload of it and you can thow handfulls of it out to people in Washington Square Park at your leisure, is that you prioritize and plan. I moved to Beijing fresh out of college without a lot of money. But seeing the world was my biggest priority at the time, and that was that. I chose my priority, which is the first step and sometimes the most difficult. Then, I lined up a few teaching English gigs before I even got there so I knew I’d have a steady stream of income while I got my businesses going.

The trick is to learn how to make money work for you, rather than working for it.

 

7.Tell us about the Cigarette Mile? What it is, what it aims to achieve etc?

The Cigarette Mile was an experiment to see how many cigarettes 2 people could pick up in 1 hour along a 1 mile stretch of a busy road. Believe it or not, we picked up more than 1,000 butts!!!! It was, to say the least, disgusting.
The lesson and reason behind doing the Cigarette mile are two-fold:

1.) To demonstrate to people that it takes just 1 hour of your time to make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be picking up trash. It could be 1 hour tutoring a student, or 1 hour visiting at a nursing home, or 1 hour at a soup kitchen. I used to think that I was just one little person and didn’t give myself any credit for being able to make a difference. Well, that was bullshit, and was just an excuse. We all, even if its just through one small hour, can make a difference.

2.) To show that throwing cigerette butts from your car is, believe it or not, littering, and is just as gross as smoking is itself. People forget that when they throw that tiny little butt out the window that they’re throwing it on top of 10 others, and that adds up. These are our bike lanes, our beaches, our sidewalks where we push our kids in their strollers. Let’s keep them clean dammit.

 

8.Also the 50 mile Walk for Tomorrows World Changers?

Originally, I was just going to walk 50 miles (25 day one, 25 day two) along Saint Augustine Beach for the sake of doing it as a micro-adventure. But I’m a big believer in multi-tasking when it comes to trying to find ways to make things less about myself and more about others. So, I thought, why not turn it into an event to raise money and awareness for a cause I believe in? And that’s what I did!
This walk was such a powerful example to me of just how much you can accomplish through the online world. I organized this entire thing through my blog just 4 months after I launched it and all money raised came mainly from my community of readers. My goal was to raise $1,000 in 48 hours, and when I finished the last mile we reached $1,200.
Also, after 50 miles of walking along the beach in the very, very very hot sun, I did not walk for about 3 days. It was the most well-deserved break of relaxation I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, and 50 miles walking solo was a lot lonelier than I thought it would be, but these are the lessons and adventures that I live for.

 

9.You  longboarded from sea to marsh in 2011.

-From where to where?
We started on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, and moved inland crossing over the intercoastal waterway and then through the flattest lands in America until we reached the Saint Johns River.

-How many miles? When we charted our course, it turns out we only had skated about 31 miles. Originally, we had planned to go much further than the river, but the conditions for skating were far less ideal than we’d imagined. Without any hills, there were no breaks in pushing. And the pavement of the roads were rocky and uneven, making it almost impossible at times to even go 5 feet without another push. My legs were like overcooked spaghetti by the end of it!

-who did you do it with?
I did this with my Kyle FitzPatrick, whose been my partner in crime launching Outdoor Minded Mag, and who is the one responsible for getting me into longboarding as well as the scars on my knees from the times I fell attempting to do tricks!

-describe the experience?
a-maz-ing. I was in the zone – the flow – the moment, whatever you want to call it. We were hot, we were tired, we were sore, but we kept on pushing through the day, the sunset, and the night until we reached the river.
I live for moments like that: when your whole life fades into the background, and your mind is just free in that moment. I think it’s this very feeling that makes me love testing and challenging adventures. It’s in those moments that I think to myself, “So this is what it means to be ALIVE.”

-what training did you do in the run up to it?
Not much! I had to teach myself to push with both legs so as to not get soar using just one for the entire course. Other than that, I run everyday, do my pushups and pullups, eat well – that whole “take care of your body lifestyle” part of training is essential too.

 

10.Which are the next things you are going to tick off your list?

  • I have big plans to SUP across Lake Tahoe. It’s 12 miles at its minimum diameter, and 22 miles at its maximum diameter.
  • Volunteering on a regular basis: I’ve been traveling so much lately that it’s been difficult to set this up on a regular basis. This is something I want to make a much bigger part of my life.
  • Get all the things needed to make my own Sushi. I LOVE sushi!
  • Run a 10K.

11. You want to donate $1million to charities before you are 31?!
(The one million US dollars will come from donating a monthly percentage of her business profits, corporate sponsors, donations from event backers, and a variety of other creative campaigns.)
This is an extremely generous thing to do.
-Why do you want to do it?

Honestly, in some ways I want to do it for selfish reasons. It’s a huge motivator for me to keep working hard, keep trying new things, keep learning, keep seeking success. It’s a huge goal, but I want to think BIG.
Other than that, I feel it is my responsibility and duty to contribute a portion of what I earn to those that need it more than me. I believe in living below your means, and after you do satisfy those means, do what you can to help. One day, I’m not going to be anything but ashes floating around the ocean. What will I leave behind? Certainly not a bank account with a big number to go with my name will be on my gravestone, but rather maybe I’ll be able to play just a small part in helping other people help the world become a better place for generations to come.

-Are there particular charities you want the money to go to any why?

I big supporter of DonorsChoose.org, which is an organization that lets individuals fund classroom projects. For instance, Miss A in the South Bronx might post a campaign to receive computers for her 8th grade students so they can write their essays and practice writing. People like you and I can go online, browse her project, and make a contribution for her needed amount. If her project reaches what she needs, DonorsChoose purchases the computers for her, and now her classroom has what it needs.
This is the foundation that I did my 50 Mile Walk For. It’s the kids of today that need the resources to discover what their talents and skills are. DonorsChoose helps make that happen.
I also want to get move involved with organizations that bring kids into the outdoors!

13.How do you combine/balance work and play?

Ah… a tricky task indeed. My work is my play, and my play is my work. Sometimes this is a blessing, and other times it’s a curse. I can’t go on a micro-adventure just for the sake of the adventure. It’s also an article to write, a video to film, a small part of a bigger picture I’m working on. And I love that too. It’s just how my brain works!

 

14.What have you done so far adventure/extreme sports wise?

I’ve done some pretty cool things, though it’s only been in about the past two years that I’ve really began diving into it. I want kayaking in Vietnam, trekked the start of the Himalayas, climbed a volcano at sunrise in Indonesia. This coming year I plan on really diving into the adventures of the US, which I’ve never truly explored.

 

15.Tell me about your Mad Life Challenge preposition for others to live by?

The Mad Life Challanges are meant to be kickstarters for people to gain momentum in the 4 main areas that I write about on my blog: entrepreneurship, travel & adventure, self-growth, and creating change. Each category has 2 Challenges. For instance, entrepreneurship has the 1% Prototype Challenge in which you make a very small and humble version of your big idea and you put it through a few tests to see how people respond to it.
A lot of times, it can be tough figuring out how to get started on the various areas or your life you may want to improve upon. The challenges are a way to take some of the pressure off figuring out how to do that, by just offering a way upfront to get the ball rolling.

 

16.Where does your income come from?

For a long time, I’ve been a web designer. When I graduated college with a degree in International Business I knew that I couldn’t do the regular 9-5 thing because travel and exploring is such a huge part of my life. Not to mention, everything about entrepreneurship just runs through my veins and there is no other way for me.
So, while I was living in Beijing where the cost of living was low, I was able to buy myself some time and teach myself how to design websites. I’d always been obsessed with the online world anyway, and I love the fact that I get to design the hubs for individuals and companies that are starting businesses that contribute positively to the world.
Nowadays I’m working on more projects, like Outdoor Minded Mag, and doing consulting for travel companies, specifically ones dealing with outdoor travel and sustainable travel, since travel is basically what I know and what I breathe.

 

17.Can anyone do what you are doing or what makes you stand out?

Absolutely. All you need are a few key ingredients. 1.) Work your ass off 2.) When you start to give yourself shit that you aren’t good enough to stand out, tell yourself to shut up and get back to to it. 3.) Create a place ( a blog for instance ) where you can connect with like-minded people who will become your partners, your inspiration, your evangelists. When you feel like giving up, they’ll remind you that you can’t. 4.) Put your passions to work. The word “work” has been given a bad vibe. Make it FUN by finding ways to monetize what you love to do.
Anybody can create a business based on their passions. Anybody can travel the world. Anybody can do big and crazy things that most people say are impossible or stupid. Anybody can help another person. But it won’t always be easy, and some days you’ll ask yourself what the hell you’re doing and what this is all for. It’ll always be worth it in the end. Don’t give up!

 

17.Outdoor Minded Magazine is newly up and running and doing great, what are your plans for it?

I have so many plans for OMM! Outdoor Minded is still finding its own voice in the whole online outdoor website realm. Just like all endeavors when they first begin, be it a business or micro-adventure, the first part of it is all about finding the flow and finding out what works.
I’m taking OMM in the direction of being much more about the individual that would spend all their time outside if they could. The ones that when you ask them who they are and what they’re about, the sport they do outside is a big part of what defines them. OMM is a hub for sharing the stories, resources, lessons, and projects of these inspiring and dedicated individuals. So, my upcoming plans for it are ones that are going to harness this.
Next up we’re launching a new series called Outdoor Hours where people share the story behind one of their most memorable hours spent outdoors. We have contributions from professional adventurers like Dave Corn to everyday enthusiasts taking their passion to the next level like creator of Climb On! Sister Jeline Guiles, and the list goes on.

 

18.Any advice for people who want to follow in your footsteps( aka me!)?

Work hard, think big, and through it all, have make sure you are having FUN. Don’t let self doubt get the best of you because it’s not doing you or all the amazing things you, and only you, can contribute to the world, any good.
And more than ANYTHING – stay true to who you are at your root. Don’t try to be who you are not, and if you feel your gut saying that this isn’t you – don’t do it.
Ask yourself everyday, “Who am I helping today?” They key to a truly successful and content person, is one that that gives from their heart in everything they do.
And lastly, start a blog and use social media. Best thing I ever did. Without it, I wouldn’t have connected with the people that have inspired or found the tools to get me to where I am.

Laurens sites:
My Personal Blog: The Mad To Live
OMM: Outdoor Minded Mag
Twitter: @LaurRAINS (http://twitter.com/LaurRAINS)  @OUTDOOR_MINDED (http://twitter.com/OUTDOOR_MINDED)

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Events, Interviews

Emrys Davies – The Atacama Crossing

Featured in Beyond Limits Magazine 5th June 2012

The desert?

The Atacama Desert?

You are going to run across the Atacama desert?

This is the place where temperatures summit at 40 degrees Celsius by day and plummet to 5 degrees by night. The place where rain has never fell, where shade has never crept, where altitude sits 3000m above sea-level and where storms are made of sand.

No offence Mr. Davies but are you crazy?

I jest, I know he is not crazy, Emrys Davies is just another being to aspire to be like. This is not a first attempt or a Guinness world record . This is just another man trying to find his limits by entering a race dubbed the second greatest endurance challenge on the planet by TIME magazine. Bow down before the 6 stage, 7 day, 250km ‘Atacama Crossing‘.

Emrys Davies has served for 14 years with the South Wales fire brigade and eight years with the urban search and rescue team. On top of that he is a sector medic, mountain leader and expedition leader. Apt training for a desert sprint. This event which is a blend of too far and seriously awesome is seen as a welcome release by Davies.

“I’m 43 this year,” Davies said, “I’ve had a few family related hard times recently and the training and organization for the event has become my coping mechanism.” Sometimes it is easy to forget the power of adventure.”

The Welshman has taking the long term approach to training, rotating between 45 minute to two hour runs.

“I’m just out there pounding the trails, tracks, hills, beaches and sand dunes and mixing it up, running with no rucksack, running and walking with rucksack, walking and running with poles too,” Davies explained, “In the summer I will be getting down to Pembrokeshire coastal path to do some back to back long distance days and increase the distances throughout the year, peaking by the time next March comes round.”

The crossing will require competitors to cover 40km a day and on the “long march” day, they will need to cover a distance of 60-70km. There will be no vehicle support, no support team, everything he needs for the march is literally on the participant’s back. Checkpoints sit at every 10km, the final checkpoint of each day being the finishline and campsite.

Davies runs for three charities – the Fire Fighters Charity, Help For Heroes, and Bobath, a therapy centre for children with cerebral palsy. Davies aims to raise £1,500.00 for them and he is going about it the traditional way; organising supermarket collection days and quiz nights with raffles. He is also sponsored by Outlook Expeditions, the sports trauma management company Lubas Medical and The Village Kitchen and bar. Sponsorship is a necessary step to cover an entry fee of $3,500. It’s a big deal.

“I’m definitely nervous about it but in a good way..a respectful way,” Davies said, “I respect the challenge so therefore I will be preparing to the best of my ability for it. it’s a kind of nervous that gives you motivation ..a certain level of nerves is a good thing as it prevents you from being blasé about it.”

It’s easy to see only the rawness of the course, to be caught up in the sheer scale of the task he will soon endure. But as always in adventure there will be beauty in the trip that is guaranteed to make the pain worth it. The Atacama Desert is a world away from the Welsh background of Emrys Davies youth but in March 2013 he will join a throng of 150 competitors to race by day and assemble around a campfire by night. Then after 7 horribly blissful days, after all the preparation, the exhaustion, the pain, it will all over and he will have done it, he will cross a finish line manned with the flag of every competitor’s nation.

“There is definitely a mental challenge to processing the idea that I’m going to embark on one of the greatest endurance challenges on the planet but part of that process is realizing how fortunate I am to be doing it and what an opportunity I have in front of me to prove myself, this really isn’t for the fainthearted and I want to prove beyond a doubt that I have the mental toughness to do this,” Davies said, “I want to be able to say I was up to the challenge and I delivered, failure isn’t an option for me!”

To help Emrys complete his adventure, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Atacamacrossing 

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Adventure, Interviews

Interview with Cedric Dumont – Redbull athlete

1.You have done 10,000 skydives  and 2,000 BASE jumps , holy shit!  Tell me about the first time you did each?

First skydive in 92 and first base in 95, long time ago. Both felt really good but even after so many jumps, i still feel this rush and excitement, you have to keep this in order to push yourself in the sport.

 

2.Its a pricey past-time, how did you afford them at the start, when you where a youngster?

I didn’t jump that much in the beginning, but I was working hard to pay for it.


3.Your a Red Bull athlete. How did you get involved with Red Bull?

I met the right person on the right moment on the right place I guess…Life is all about pushing your luck and take the opportunities.

 

4.What is the appeal of reaching a certain speed?

Speed is addictive and even more when you create it just with gravity, no engines, it’s pure human power.

 

5.When did you get your first wingsuit?

In 1999

What brand was it?

I think it was a prototype built by a friend back then.

Do you still have it?

Unfortunately no, but I do have my last 7 wing suits since 2004.

 

6.You’ve dappled in several sports and excelled in them all, skier, surfer and golfer… What made you choose base jumping as the one to pursue as a career?

Way easier than golf 🙂 No seriously, it just came like this, I never calculate or planned anything back then.

 

7.Where did you get the time to get a degree, become fluent in five languages and perfect that amount of sports?

Having a very well-organized and balanced life and being quick in learning maybe helped me to achieve this. But it never seemed too much at the time, still today i feel the need to learn other things and pursue my passion.

 

8.How big a part of your life is the coaching aspect ? Explain your role as coach to me?

Right now, my life is like 50/50 basejumping and mental coaching, I like and keep this balance, I also need a more intellectual approach to life. But both activities are linked with my core values, which are freedom and travelling.I really love to fly and jump off stuff, but I have always needed a foot in the real life too, otherwise you just completely leave reality.Being with other pro athletes and sharing ideas is also very inspiring and push me aswell in my sport.

 

9. The coaching seems like a brilliant idea, I know so many people, myself included, that find it hard to just let go and chase their dreams. There is clearly a market there, but are customers letting go and using it?

For sure, all my “students” are improving or at least learning something. It is such a great satisfaction to see people achieving their goals and dreams and unleash their full potential.It’s a question of making choices and being aware of your talents. It’s finding your element, the crossing between you passion and talent. This is what life is all about I think and this is what will make you happy. Relationships with others is also crucial to be happy, but remember that a happy person will have better relationship. Happiness is something you find within yourself, it’s an emerging process and a state of mind that can be cultivated.

 

10. What is the average age of going pro and subsequently retirement in a career like this?

Retirement?What is this? Ask Kelly Slater, he is 40 and surfing better than 15 years. He told me that in 10 years from now he will be better than today! If you take care of yourself in all aspects, there is no limit to physical age anymore.I love my life as it is and wouldn’t want to change it!

 

11.Are you living the life you always dreamed of or had you something else in mind?

Living the life I always dreamed, simple as that!

 

12.You provide 7 steps that your coaching programme is built around. How did you come up with them?

Lot of learning, reading and working made it possible to build this program.

 

14.You seem like a spiritual man, is that correct?

Wouldn’t say spiritual but more like “hyper-aware” and full of positive energy.

but maybe this is being spiritual after all…

 

Have you always been or is it since you started flying?

Always been like this I guess. Flying is only a way of expressing myself, just like an artist.If it was not flying, it would have been something with the same values.

 

15.Working with/for Redbull is a lot of people’s dream job, mine included. How are they as a company to work for?

It’s more than a company, it’s a family, especially after 12 years, it’s like we have been progressing together and they gave me the opportunity to achieve some of my dreams, what else can I say!

 

16.You say you are a nomad, would you still consider Belgium home?

Yes for sure, this is where my family and friends are, my roots, my base camp. I have been chasing the ideal place for years when I finally realized 7 years ago that the place is made by the people and not only by the weather or activities.

Where do you live right now?

Based in Belgium at the beach, north sea.

Video:

17. You say people inspire you, who and what is it in particular about them?

Kelly Slater as an athlete, my good friend Nicolas Colsaerts who is pro golfer on European tour and ranked 64th in the world, but also some friends in the business world, my parents, everyone with a dream basically.

 

18. You have  jumped from the highest railway bridge in the world (201m), the highest suspended bridge in the world (384m) and jumped from 431m in a BASE wingsuit off of the Jin-Mao tower in Shanghai.

You have competed in the X Games three times, finished third in the skysurfing world cup and won the Brazilian open skysurfing and recorded the lowest BASE-jumps in the world, including a freefall jump from just 35m!

Woah, way to make everyone reading this feel like a underachiever!

No, everyone has different goals and dreams, not everyone is willing to take such risks too and I totally respect it too.

 

-Do you go out seeking these records or do they just happen?

Nothing just happen in life, you make things happen, same for records or projects.

 

19.Whats the big plan for the next 10- 20 years, a guy like you surely has a rough plan?

Never had a plan, always had a vision of myself in an ideal situation but never more than 3 to 5 years, we live life’s full of uncertainties.

Website: http://www.cedricdumont.com/

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Adventure, Cycling, Interviews

Riding to Break the Cycle

Cycle a continent, or cycle the world.

If you are going to do it, do it with these guys;

Riding to Break the Cycle.

Courtesy of Riding to Break the Cycle

1.Why did you pick cycling as the mode of travel?

I read a blog recently that referred to bikes as “tools and vehicles that make life better.” I think this does a great job explaining why we chose cycling as our mode of travel. Cycling, and cycle touring specifically, has this unbelievable ability to transform an individual. The freedom, the challenge, the adventure, and as the blog mentioned, the ability it has to make you think bigger and get beyond your own community, offers amazing opportunities for people.

As kids we all loved to bike if for nothing else the opportunity it presented for exploration, learning, and escape. As adult we don’t get this opportunity as much in our daily lives, but we believe cycling can still provide that. Through our trips participants not only get to have a wonderful physical travel adventure, but through biking they are given the opportunity for a challenge, an opportunity to explore the world, and an opportunity to learn what they are truly capable of both physically and mentally.

 

2.Your whole staff seems to consist of young people…..

-What kind of message are you trying to send out to people?

A lot of our staff are starting to get a bit older and it is getting tougher to classify them as youth, but we are still very much a youth driven organization. We believe that the determination, energy, and innovation of today’s youth is and will continue to be instrumental in making the world a better place. We strive to support inspired youth and we want to send the message that our generation is ready to take a stand against poverty, inequality, environmental destruction, etc…

 

3.How do you think taking part in a tour can change the participants life?

This is a great question and I’ll let one of our alumni answer it:

Michal Tellos (2011 Pacific Coast tour) “Prior to the tour, never had I been so nervous about successfully completing anything, but at its conclusion, I had never been so confident. This confidence doesn’t relate merely to my physical ability to cycle 100 km daily, but to any seemingly insurmountable challenge. During the tour, we had to wake up, and ride our hardest every day to get where we wanted to go. I learned that with a similar approach to any task, I can achieve similar outcomes. The winding hills that never seem to end start off as a physical challenge, and somewhere along the way, morph into empowering psychological metaphors.”

 

4.What kind of feedback do you get from participants?

Again, I’ll let our participants answer this one:

Kaleigh Heard (2011 Europe tour) “RTBTC Europe 2011 was by far the most daring, impulsive and absolutely wonderful experience I have had in my life! It is truly designed for those who want to make a difference and see the world the way it should be seen”

Elize Morgan (2010 Europe tour) “The Europe tour was one of the best experiences of my life, and it’s an amazingly fantastic experience for everyone involved.

Sean Peters (2007 Pacific Coast tour) “The Pacific Coast tour is an amazing experience. It’s one of those life-changing experiences where, when you’re 80, you’ll be able to say that you did that; you accomplished something so audacious and rare. There’s nothing in the world that can describe it- the sense of accomplishment is overwhelming”

 

5. There’s a recurring theme in giving to charity; that the people who the money is intended for, never get it, instead their government or multinationals or someone along the way ends up with it. How do you know this isn’t the case with yours?

First of all, we have a clear distinction between money raised for operating costs and those raised for the projects we support. We want to be clear with donors where their money is going. When it comes to the projects we support we put a lot of measures in place to monitor where our funds go whether it is the months and months we spend vetting the projects, sending staff or volunteers to visit the projects, or receiving frequent updates from them. Above all else though we work very closely with our partners so that we are not providing just finances but expertise as well. That said we are in the business of supporting community driven projects. We don’t pretend to know the solutions to poverty in communities around the world but we know that there are local there that probably do and we strive to support them. We spend a lot of time getting to know the individuals behind the projects and we are confident that our money ends up in the right hands.

 

6. Has anyone been on every tour?

Nobody has done all of our tours yet. A couple of people have done three and a bunch have done two, but we mostly get new participants each year wanting to take on the challenging adventure!

 

7.Is the plan to continue opening up new routes across the globe? Where do you have in mind next?

We are definitely interested in opening up new routes. Our plan was always to open a new route every two years and so far we are ahead of that goal. We have a few options in mind that we have started investigating: West Africa, Canada, Australia, and possibly the Silk Road.

 

8.You guys are all young, which I love and ambitious which is getting rare to find in the youth of today (I am allowed say this because I am also young) How have you managed to step away from this stereotype and strive to live out your dreams?

-Have you confronted any older people yet who automatically judge you as the lazy stereotype associated with a youth? What did you say to them?

I guess we have managed to step away from this stereotype with our actions. We don’t just sit idle, we are always improving, always learning, always engaging with the community, and always seeking to find the best solutions to global poverty. And at the end of the day we are taking on epic and challenging bike tours each year and every year and we are raising significant funds through a lot of hard work and a lot of pounding the pavement.

Fortunately we’ve actually been lucky to have had little to no confrontation from older folks stereotyping us as lazy. If that was to occur I think our actions would speak louder than words.

Courtesy of Riding to Break the Cycle

9. Leading people on tours around the world by bike – Surely that has got to be a sweet job?

I couldn’t imagine a more exciting job! Working for Riding to Break the Cycle combines my love of adventure, cycling, and the outdoors, with my passion for social change. I get to work with an amazing group of inspiring individuals and I get to help young adults have life changing experiences. You couldn’t ask for more really!

10. Working there, what is the best think you get to witness?

I think the best thing I get to witness, besides for the success of the individuals we are helping, is the transformation I see in our participants. They join us as timid, novice cyclists, and they leave confident, mentally tough, aware, educated, and empowered to continue making a positive difference in the world.

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Adventure, Cycling, Interviews

Interview with Hello Restless

2 bicycles, 2 photographers, 30,000 miles and 50+ countries, to document the Geography of Youth.

1. So what’s the story with you two, best friends, lovers…..how do you know each other?

We met in 2007 while both working at the Maine Media Workshops for the summer. We moved to NYC right after that summer and the rest, as they say, is history!

2.You are quite the achievers for young people, have you worked hard for it or is it easy because it is your passion? 

I’m not sure that we’re so much achievers as folks who wanted to see something happen and took a leap of faith. We work really hard, but a lot of doing what you love is taking the tough first step towards actually getting what you want out of life.

3. Photography is one thing, but you gave it a more extreme element by adding in the bikes, how did this whole idea come about and be put into action? 

When we came up with the idea for Project Tandem, we originally thought about driving around the country. Mo’s dad pointed out that his college buddy had cycled across the country and we thought that was a pretty cool idea. A month into cycle touring, we were hooked.

4. What bikes are you cycling?

We are sponsored by an amazing company called Waterford Precision Cycles. They made us custom steel touring bikes and they are so awesome. We’re totally in love with our bikes.

– Distance you cover a day?

Anywhere from 30k to 130k. Depends on the weather, terrain, resources…

– Pace? We average 20k per hour.

– Stopovers? We take lots of water, snack, and photo breaks. We’re constantly stopping for something!

5. Do you feel lucky to have found another person that is on the same page as you goal wise? Are you as similar in all aspects of your personality? 

We’re actually pretty different, personality-wise. We’re lucky to share the same drive, but mostly just lucky that we can tolerate each other for this long and under often less than ideal circumstances.

6.Did you do any training or bike maintenance before you departed? 

A bit! We’re pretty decent at repairing bicycles but we’ve learned as we go. We didn’t train too much, just tried to get/keep in shape. You don’t have to be a super-athlete to cycle tour.

7. What is the crux of your mission? 

The best way to describe the project is through our intro video:

8.How do you approach the people you want to photograph? 

We literally just walk/cycle up to them and start chatting. We explain the project and ask them if they want to be a part of it!

9. You are out there cycling the world with an aim, but what are the benefits?

– What have you learned?

It’s impossible to write all that we’ve learned. Seeing the world at 20k an hour is a pretty amazing thing. We’re seeing and learning more than I think we could possibly ever realize fully.

– Have you had fun?

Of course! It’s not always sunshine and downhills, but we try to remember, even in the toughest of days, how lucky we are to be doing this!

– What difference can it make to other people’s lives?

– Will you ever dismount the bike and stop?

Sure. We’re not really hard-core bicycle riders. That sounds funny, but the bicycles are just the way we choose to travel right now. We love the pace and the photography and writing that traveling by bicycle allows, and traveling by bicycle will always be a part of our lives, but different forms of transportation suit different needs. The bicycle is great for us now, but that may not always be the case.

10. Is there a lesson here you are trying to teach the youth of today? 

Nope. This project is in the spirit of true documentary. We find people in their twenties, photograph and interview them, and present the material for viewer to form their own opinions and conclusions.

11. How did you narrow the questions to ask your subject to those 10-11? 

We worked with Dr. Jeffery Jenson Arnett at Clark University to develop questions that we thought pushed at the heart of what it means to be in your twenties in today’s world. Hopefully the questions make the subjects think a bit about where they are in their lives and their answers will allow everyone else to learn a little something about different place, cultures, people, and what it means to be twenty-something today all over the world.

12. Is it all pre-researched and pre-planned or do you take it day by day…where you are going to go, where you are going to sleep? 

It’s all researched and pre-planned, but it also changes day by day. Our motto is: plan, plan, plan, and know it’ll all change.

13. Whats the best part of your lifestyle?

Getting to meet new and interesting people every day and getting the opportunity to share the things we see and learn with the world on-line. So cool.

14. Give me a rundown of a typical day?

Wake up before the sun. Pack up the tent and bags. Cook and eat breakfast. Ride, stopping all the time to photograph, jot down notes, interview twenty- somethings… Eat lunch. Do administrative work on the computer if we can find internet.. Ride a bit more. Find a good camping spot. Set up tent. Eat. Write and upload photos. Sleep.

17. Where in the world are you now?

We’re in the Pampas of Argentina right now. It’s pretty and flat, but very hot!

18. What age are both of you?

Alan is 27 and Mo is 28.

19. Where is home? 

Home is our tent. Haha. We both consider home to be the Northeast of the United States. We both grew up there and it’s the region that we call home.

20. What camera’s are you both using?

We both use Canon 5D Mark II’s.

21. How do you fund the project?

The Geography of Youth is funded by grants from the Maine Arts Commission, several amazing corporate sponsors, and 230 fantastic Kickstarter backers who pledged more than $16,000 to the project. We’re not completely funded to make it all the way around the world yet, but we’re pretty close!

22. First the States, then the world….what is next?

Not sure. It feels like we’ve only just begun The Geography of Youth, so we’ve got plenty of time to keep thinking about what’s next!

23. Is the cycling just a means to get around, or is it something you love?

Cycling is a great form of transportation and we definitely love it. We’re big advocates of cycle touring, and we love to see people give it a shot. That being said, our passion is really for the storytelling aspect of these projects, so when the time comes that cycling isn’t the best way to get what we need, then we’ll try something new!

LINKS:

Twitter: @hellorestless

Website: http://geographyofyouth.org/

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Adventure, Interviews

Interview: Run with Mark

1. You weren’t completely happy with your life so you changed it. What did it take to make that decision, it can’t be easy when so many others don’t make the change? 
It was a really easy change for me to make, I was totally fed up with being unhealthy, it had gotten to the point where I was smoking 20 a day as a minimum. I was outside work one day and a man ran past me in the street, I looked at him and decided then and there that I would try and be like him, he looked so full of life running in the street, I on the other hand….. I dropped the cigarettes that day and started running and cycling, in many ways I am lucky, so many people try to make lasting changes in their life but fail, I was lucky because the option I took, to run, was something I found a natural love for, still to this day, four years on I love running.

2. You started on a feat that is fairly achievable; cycling John O Groats to Lands End and then built it up. How important is it to start on a smaller scale first? 
It may seem like a small feat these days but at the time it was a massive achievement, it still is to me. My proudest moment with regards to fitness is still my first ever 10k race in 2008 after stopping smoking, people get to focussed on the size of the goal and the drama of a challenge, one achievement might not be a big thing for someone but a huge deal for another. I say set lofty goals right from the start, make them achievable but really tough to achieve.

3. You are still working as a lawyer?! How do you find time to balance it all? 
(I’m not a lawyer but work in a law firm) To be honest with you, I work full time in a law firm but because I love what I do outside work it never feels like hard work If that makes sense? How can giving presentations to schools and running races be deemed work when it is what you love. The hard part is to make that you’re living, you do need some structure though, a place to go that keeps your feet on the ground and my colleagues are very supportive of the things that I do.

– How did they take it when you took 56 days off to run across Europe? 
They were very cool about it, I had three months off to do it, unpaid leave. I did wonder how I would pay my bills and fund the trip but I had a chat with them and it basically transpired that they couldn’t pay me a “wage” because I wasn’t here but they could be a corporate sponsor and fund some of the trip so that’s the way it panned out. Like I say they were very good about the whole thing and I think that my work has improved because of this freedom.

– How do you even start an expedition of this scale? 
When I started out I had no idea what to do and indeed how much was involved, it was pretty daunting. It’s kind of like trying to get it clear in your mind that you are about to run a 100 mile race somewhere, you have to break it down otherwise it’s impossible. At the same time you have to just get on with it, that’s what I did, I looked at it in separate projects, what do I need, I need kit for the run, who do I need to speak to in order to get that kit donated, that kind of thing.

4. What does it feel like to step out from a crowd and be recognised by people?
I won’t lie, it does feel nice sometimes to be given awards and so on but the best thing about this is being asked to help other people and being asked by charities to give them advice on fundraising and that sort of thing. It has opened a lot of doors for me but mostly to the benefit of other people so I sleep well at night knowing or at least I think that I am making some sort of difference in my own small way.

5. You are relatively new to the adventure world, what can we expect from you in the future? 
I don’t really know, there are so many people doing so many incredible things I often wonder if there is anything left to do! I don’t really do things to be the first or the fastest I do them because I want to, I ran from Amsterdam to Barcelona because Barcelona was the last place me and my Family went on holiday before my Mum passed away. If you do things for the right reasons then it’s easier to get through them. I have another ultra running season in 2012 and then I am planning a big challenge possible in India but that’s about all I can say for now.

6. Which is your strong suit; racing or endurance? Why? 
I am not the fastest, I used to be sub 18 minutes for a 5k which is decent but since moving into longer distances I do not have enough time to focus on speed, I am still just over 18 minutes for the 5k but I can only see that getting slower in 2012. I definitely want to get sub 3hr for the marathon, that was a goal for 2012 but might have to wait until next year. Endurance is what I love, being out there stretched, thinking you can’t go on but then finding that you can. There has been one occasion where I quit a race but I will be returning this year to finish it. I always think it is important to finish what you start no matter how long it takes.

7. How do you pick your next “To do”?
Now what I do is Google “map of the world” and I look at it and think about where I would like to go and list my reasons for it. I then work out the distance and then figure out from doing some research what mileage I think would be possible to run each day, I don’t think I would ever opt for more than 50 miles per day at a push. There is only so much I am willing to put my body through, I want a very long and mobile life.

8. How important is it to push to the outside world that you are Scottish? Or are you willing to pull an Andy Murray and be labelled a UK/English athlete? 
I am proud to be Scottish but also happy to be British, it is not something that I really think about to be honest.

9. Who does your support team consist of? 
My Girlfriend Ferelith is always there for me, she is so supportive of the things that I do and I am forever planning new adventures, I can imagine there aren’t many people who would put up with that, I am very lucky. Other than that I just get on with it myself, I had some help on the European run but that was a onetime thing, I look at it as my decision to do this stuff so I shouldn’t burden anyone else with it.

10. How did you get into the speaking gig? 
It was when I came back from the  AtoB run, my local rotary club and old school asked me to give a presentation on my adventure, I was very nervous but once I got up there I loved it, it’s a real opportunity to share the world with people and I think it is a good educational tool for young people.

11. What is your favourite part of running? 
It’s got to be the places it takes me and the people I meet from doing it. At least once a week I head out from my front door and pick a direction or I drive away to a place I’ve never been and just run, there is nothing more exciting that not knowing where you are going or seeing somewhere new, especially when it is close to home. I have live in Edinburgh all my life and there are still places I discover on a run that I’ve never been to, streets and parks I didn’t know existed.

12. What does your weekly training schedule consist of? 
When I trained for the 50 marathons run I was strict, three weeks of heavy training, minimum of 80 miles each week and then one week of around about 50 easy miles. Since then I have a much more relaxed approach to training, I don’t lose sleep if I miss a session and I just listen to my body and mind and go for however long I feel like it. There are obviously set long runs, usually on Sundays that I have to do but apart from that I just fit in the odd run when I can. It’s important not to take the fun out of it.

13. Are most of your friends now fellow adventurers or are they still the ones from home? 
I am still close to all my friends from before, I have also met a whole new set of friends, I am not one dimensional since taking up adventure and running, I still like to get to the pub and have a proper drink sometimes, just not as often as I used to. I play in my band with old xchool mate and when we play gigs it’s a chance for us all to get together and have a session, I like that.

14. What do you think you would be doing now if you had never quit smoking and taken up running? 
I think I would be in the same job but I don’t think that I would be with my girlfriend (she wouldn’t have put up with my I don’t think) which also means I wouldn’t have been able to buy our lovely house together so I’d be at home and single probably! haha

15. What charities do you run for and why do run for charities?
I run for the Parkinson’s charity Wobbly Williams – www.wobblywilliams.com I ran the 50 marathons in memory of my Mother and for the charity that helped my family at that time, I raised over £33,000 for them but it was a one off thing for me. I decided to run for Wobbly Williams because I met the founder of the charity Bryn Williams at an awards ceremony, we both won the inspiration award that night and after speaking to him for a few minutes I was floored by his passion and belief in the charity he had set up. Bryn has Parkinson’s you see and when he was diagnosed he researched online and could only find negative press about the disease, he decided to give people hope so he set up the charity. We have raised over £400,000 in just over three years, the target for us now is millions, its going directly to treatment and finding a cure. Bryn has some great resources on the website that people should check out.

16. What is your technique for tricking your body into thinking it has more to give? 
I don’t really have one, I just tell myself to man up and think about how dull life would be without these adventures, what else would I be doing? Watching the television? No thanks

17. Why do you want to help others achieve their goals? 
I don’t think I truly can help people do that, they have to want it bad for themselves, the best I can hope to achieve is to give them ideas and plant little seeds of adventure, I’m not saying that you have to go and run for 24hrs, I totally get why that would not be for everyone. It is merely a matter of continuing to learn and experience new things and that’s exactly what I try to get over in my presentations.

My favourite quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson , it goes like this
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow.”

I think that’s spot on and I will continue to push my own boundaries and make the most of this one, short life in the best way I can.

– Who helped you? 
My Dad helped me, he was a rock when my Mum passed away, I don’t tell him enough but I hope that by me doing what I am doing is proof enough to him that he raised me well and that I am forever grateful for that.

QuickLinks:
– www.runwithmark.com
– 50 marathons
– 24hr treadmill run
– Twitter: @runwithmark

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Adventure, Rowing

Row 2 Recovery

Published in BeyondLimitsmag 13 February 2012

Everyone who walks this earth has a story.

Some are routine and dull. Some will take your breath away. But the sad truth is most will never get told.

You may have heard this story before or perhaps you may have not. I am going to tell you regardless, because these five men have a story worth telling and I plan to tell the world.

Lieutenant Will Dixon , Corporal Neil Heritage, Corporal Rory Mackenzie, Lance Corporal Carl Anstey, Ed Janvrin and Alex Mackenzie step up to the stage.
All are former servicemen. Three are amputees. One walks with a permanent brace. All have seen the realities of war. All rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to bring about change. They rowed themselves to recovery.

Co-founder Alex Mackenzie explains why they entered the legendary Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, “We wanted to raise money to support the wounded and their families and to send out a positive message that inspired those who had been injured and galvanised and also to the general public to challenge what is possible in life whether wounded or not.”

I offer you the facts bluntly and once read they are not easy to ignore.

In two years the number of British service personnel undergoing single amputations has doubled. The number needing multiple amputations in that period increased six fold. Even when servicemen escape the physical ailments, war will switch tactics and consume their minds, filling it with nightmares, flashbacks and depression – “The scars you cannot see.”

“One word which summarizes our post-conflict view of the world is perspective. There is always someone worse off than you and that is something that motivated us in the difficult days of the row,” says Mackenzie.

If you donate to a cause you want to know where your money actually goes. Battleback, funds wounded soldiers return to support. Army Recovery Capability funds the whole life-cycle of recovery from rehabilitation to professional retraining. Quick Reaction Fund supports the families with short notice funding to cater for the particular challenges that they face when their family member has been wounded. It is for the families standing behind the uniformed men. The people who the world never fails to forget. Row2Recovery has totted up £782,770.00 for these organizations to date and is still counting.

The crew is adamant about the reasons behind this challenge. They are like all rowers of oceans, an elite but modest few. They shy away from the credit that the world is attempting to push on them.

“The elite group in our view are invisible, they are the wounded and their families who go through incredible challenges every day and are so rarely in the public eye,” MacKenzie says.

The crew embarked on this mission to suffer. They were not to be disappointed. Each day they rowed twelve hours on, twelve hours off.

Mackenzie says “Routine is critical in tackling one of the greatest challenges: psychological exhaustion. Finding the dogged determination to continue under extreme physical pain, sleep deprivation and severe weight loss can be difficult.”

The expedition was designed to push the participant to their absolute limits. The men could handle this, their boat on the other hand could not. First the watermaker gave in and then with 500 miles left to row, the rudder failed. Yet, somehow they endured, completing the 3000 mile journey in 51 days.

After fifty-one days on the water they have returned to real life, their family, their friends and their day jobs. They walk amongst us once more but beneath their facade their thoughts are stained with memories of those fifty-one days when there was nothing more important in the world than the oars they held between their hands.

McKenzie’s advice; “Think big and go for it, even when people tell you that something is not possible.”

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Adventure, Interviews, Rowing

Interview with Alex Mackenzie – Row2Recovery

1.What a story you guys have to tell. How did you decide to finally go out and start telling it to the world?

We always had 2 priories for the campaign, 1. To raise money to support the wounded and their families, and 2. To send out a positive message that inspired those who had been wounded and galvanised the general public to challenge what is possible in life whether wounded or not.

2.How have your war wounds changed your life – the way you think/see the world?

I am not wounded, but my friends have been wounded and killed and I think for all of the crew the one word which summarises our post-conflict view of the world is PERSPECTIVE. There is always someone worse off than you and that is something that motivated us in the difficult days of the row.

3.I don’t know if you’ll answer this question but Il ask it anyway, after all that has happened to your crew and what you have seen, are you all still pro-war?

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

We are a campaign that is focused on fundraising and inspiration. We are focused on the positives of human endeavour and inspiring the wounded and are not involved or engaged in politics or any view on the conflicts themselves.

4.Why did you pick rowing as the expedition sport?

It was the hardest thing that we could find that had the infrastructure for us to build the campaign around without having to go it alone (as a volunteer effort we did not have the time or resources for something like a polar expedition)

5.You’ve raised £721,195.00 so far for injured soldiers. What does that money actually go towards…equipment etc?

3 key areas:

Battleback – this funds wounded soldiers return to support.

Army Recovery Capability – this funds the whole lifecycle of recovery from rehabilitation to professional retraining.

Quick Reaction Fund – this supports the families with short notice funding to cater for the particular challenges that they face when their family member has been wounded. This covers anything from short notice visit expenses to adapting the family home.

6.”More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest. More than 500 people have been into space. Only 473 people have ever rowed an ocean.” – How does it feel to be a part of an elite group?

The elite group in our view are invisible, they are the wounded and their families who go through incredible challenges every day and are so rarely in the public eye.

7.The route was Canaries to Barbados, – How did you choose and plan the route?

The route is planned around 1. The best weather and currents, and 2. As part of a wider race organisation. Look at www.taliskerwhiskeyatlanticchallenge.com

How long have you being thinking and planning this?

The campaign is 2 years in the making.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

8.Is Row2recovery affiliated at all with the Row4freedom women or was that just pure coincidence you  were going at the same time?

We entered the same race, we are good friends with the girls but our mission and objectives are different.

9.Whats next – more challenges or back to life before the row?

Most of us will be back to our day jobs, but there will no doubt be some more challenges on the horizon. I am doing the Haute Route bike race from Geneva to Nice in the summer.

10.Did you get to go swimming? If so, what was that like?

All of us swam and when it was going well it was a really great moment, an amazing feeling to have 2 miles of ocean underneath you.

11. – Best moment at sea?

The end!

-Worst moment at sea?

It was the watermaker  breaking, but then that was overtaken by the rudder breaking! With only 500 miles to go we thought this might be the end.

12. What sports did you do before this?

Ultra running, Kalahari desert marathon, Devizes to Westminster canoe race, Ironman and similar.

13.What was the daily routine like – how many hours of rowing, hours of sleep…?

12 hours of rowing, 12 hours of resting.

14.On the expedition, you had to live very simply, back to the basics. I bet you learned a lot from that? But now, back in reality, how do you hold on to those lessons, changes of perspective…?

I think that most of the lessons we learnt reinforced our military experiences rather than dramatically changed our outlook.  We all felt that it was very powerful to have a cause and a sense of purpose beyond the individual and that is something that many of us will continue to live by.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

15.What is the most important thing you took out of this experience?

Think big and go for it, even when people tell you that something is not possible. …

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