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Pushing your body to its absolute limits can teach you a lot. Here is what we learned from multi day races… and it ain’t all pretty!
People often ask me why I do endurance events that often take me off the grid for several days at a time and often leave me slightly battered and broken. My answer is pretty straightforward – they enable me to push my boundaries and give me the opportunity to find out a little bit more about myself: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The body is an amazing thing and it is only when you really push yourself in extreme circumstances that you find out what it is really capable of. It will run, cycle, swim, kayak – you name it – a lot further and harder than you ever thought physically possible. It also has an impressive ability to deal with pain. I have suffered through races with cracked ribs, ulcerated blisters and severe tendonitis and not realised the true extent of my injuries until l was safely across the finish line.
The idea of not showering for five days, or peeing in a bush might make you shudder in day-to-day life but once in a race scenario you will notice that your hygiene standards get left on the wayside. In fact, you probably won’t even notice that your hair is matted and you smell pretty horrendous.
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You will find pleasure in the smallest things when you are on a multi-day race. Whether it’s a simple cup of tea when you are freezing cold, an ice-cold can of coke or brushing your teeth when you finally make it to a transition, the things you usually take for granted seem amazing. And don’t even get me started on how good that first shower and sleep in a real bed feel after a race – it’s the best feeling in the world.
Hallucinations or sleep monsters are a regular occurrence when you are racing for days on end and are the result of severe sleep deprivation. The more you race, the more you begin to embrace these crazy sightings. My all-time favourite was a unicorn that jumped unexpectedly out of a road sign about 40-hours into Slovenia AR, it made my day!
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Sticking to the topic of severe sleep deprivation, multi-day racing gives you an unbelievable ability to nod off at the drop of a hat, absolutely anywhere from the side of a road, to the inside of a barn, or even in a canoe.
I am a good talker, in fact, my husband would argue that I never shut up. And he is probably right. I am constantly amazed at how many random topics of conversation you can muster, even when you are at you most exhausted. I also love the fact that your bar for what you find amusing disappears completely – I will laugh at even the stupidest things when I am racing which is great for overall morale. There is no better medicine in life than a good old belly-aching laughing fit.
Your gear will make or break your race. There are a few key pieces in my adventure racing/ ultra-running kit that I simply couldn’t live without.
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