Claire…..”Hey what time do you recon we finish Saturday?”
Brent…you mean Sunday?…
Claire…”what!…ah Sunday??”…awkward silence…”tell me you’re joking”
Brent…nervous laugh… “Umm no…”
Brent…”come on you’ll be fine! It’ll be of heaps of fun, and… we even gonna have a little bit of sleep!!”
This was a conversation a few days before a Godzone style race/training event…small misunderstanding I guess and these happen all the time in our lives… I had been pulled back into the team for this weekend and I was not prepared physically or mentally for 2 nights out.
Poor me I thought, put all the toys you have back into the cot and get on with it, I thought to myself..
These events are aimed at teams of 4, three men, one woman, navigation, collecting checkpoints, trekking, mountain biking, pack rafting, staying together, getting through the course as fast as possible, with as much sleep, or as little as you allow yourselves.
Friday night, 10pm start at the Pelorus Bridge… On foot, to discover and document the first few checkpoints, twenty minutes later we were assembling our bikes into rideable machines. We rode off into the darkness toward the Maungatapu trail and the forested hills which eventually led us into the heart of Nelson city…fourteen hours later.
Sleep is different for everyone, but one thing is for sure: we all need it and the more we get the better we function. In an adventure race, sleep is roughly planned to suit the needs of the team, the terrain which you travelling on, the result we want to achieve and the duration of the race. This is often subject to change, of course. The plan this time was for us to sleep 3hrs both nights, this would enable us to stay “fresh” for the duration of the race and still be able to function with reasonable normality on Monday.
As the night stretched on our chosen place was a pine needle “bed” in a dampish gully where sleeping bags were hauled out, and into them shuffled damp and sweaty bodies which slept in the silence of the forest.
However, the rejuvenating effects of sleep are not always obvious for the first hour or so, made apparent by much grunting and tussling with gear accompanied by various other difficulties of the situation.
One thing I look forward to, is my “wonder woman brew” of which I have come to rely on, to give me a long lasting “pick me up” in the morning times, in an empty plastic little cream bottle I put vitamin C powder, maca powder, small amount of baking soda and wait for it…2 caps of Vitality Blackcurrant Muscle Performance which I empty out to add to the mixture. Just add some good river water, shake well and down the hatch it goes, this provides me with a pretty good boost after a hard night out in the “scrub!!”
Onwards and upwards… and there is always lots of great “ups” both physically and emotional which are part of the big cocktail of experiences which we go through during these adventures.
Saturday lunchtime we were trekking, with heavy packs which had all our pack rafting kit in as well… our sleep this time was spent up around 900 metres in a beech forest in another damp and windy place. I definitely needed some, as I was starting to stumble and weave about, I felt myself shutting down. The time was 1pm. It had been a busy week also which reflects when sort of drunken behaviour starts to happen. Deep sleep happened surprisingly enough considering the nature of the little spot I had chosen and the temperature I was feeling!
Up again at 4pm, glad to be moving again and soon enough the sky began to lighten, the birds sang and we were rewarded with a rising glow of the sun. The second “wonder woman potion” came out of my pack and was consumed with satisfaction.
Down to the stunning upper reaches of the Pelorus River, finally! 20hrs of trekking done! This was the last leg of our journey now. Empty the contents of our packs, blow up 2 rafts, change into paddling gear and helmets, eat, drink, stash gear in somewhere in the tiny rafts and push off into the river waved off by some 20 students staying in the hut who had watched us throughout this process with some amusement.
Nine hours later in the day, after a hail downpour and rainbows and many unintentional capsizes and a final small trek up a steep cliff….the 4 of us emerged at the Pelorus bridge again tired and pleased to be finished, feeling the retrospective satisfaction already after 49hrs.
As I write this I have faded memories of the difficult times, and the hours spent in a dark spaces and negative thoughts, these are filtered out to the abyss, which I realise is why we do this sort of behaviour over and over again.
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