logo

Inveniam viam aut faciam

- Hannibal Barca


image

Athletes

Jun 26, 2017

2017 Mission: Race 717 km at 17 Marathons to raise $17,000

Chris White has raced 8 marathons over the last couple of months.

WRITTEN BY

Adelina Storkaas

With his eyes set on raising $17,000 for diabetes and heart disease research, the running coach will take on another 9 marathons before the end of this year.

“I have always said to people that if it doesn’t scare you slightly, then it’s probably not the right challenge for you. It needs to be something that makes you a little bit nervous. Excited. Makes you plan. Makes you react differently,” says Chris White, determined to tackle 17 marathons in 2017.

Despite an impressive pile of medals, the British running coach hadn’t taken on more than two marathons in a year’s time before embarking on his 17 mission: “I could realistically see myself doing 12 marathons, but with 17 I thought ‘oh’. That scared me a bit,” he admits, recalling contemplating this year’s challenge to explore a variety of running events around Australia.

Completing the Great Ocean Road Marathon (in under 3 and a half hours), and the Ultraman Australia’s run in Noosa in May, he also just completed the Surf Coast Trail Marathon from Torquay to Faihaven this past weekend. Even though he was not one of the 50 triathletes taking on the entire 515 km Ultraman challenge in Noosa, he paced one of his mates at the race and approaches his own mission with similar preparations.


Previously, when he trained for Ironmans and half Ironmans, he noticed the benefits of complementing his running with swimming and biking. He became stronger, fitter and less injured.

Now, Chris trains almost like a triathlete, but for running events. He focuses on endurance, flexibility, and strength. He keeps swimming and a bit of biking in his routine and adds pilates and yoga to move his body in different ways, to get to know his body better and break the monotone training in the running tracks.

He hopes this varied training will keep him from getting injured and give him indications if he is about to: “My tips [to runners] would definitely be to cross train and start to listen to your body. It doesn’t really lie that much,” he laughs. “It is just us, ignoring the signs.” For example, if he is cramping a lot in the pool it means that his calves are really tight from running. A signal that he should address.

But on racing days, he better switch off and ignore some of the body signals that inevitably come when pushing the body to its limits: “You get to maybe 30k 35k and you kinda want to stop,” he says “Your body is telling you: ‘Look it hurts. Your body is aching, your feet are aching. It is time to stop this, we need to go home’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As he pushes his own limits, he gets to know his body better: “I think that the learning that I’m getting from it [the 17 mission], is kinda like pushing the fast forward on my learning as a running coach and also runner,” he says and encourages people to do some funky challenges, that they don’t think they can do: “Do the research and speak to other people about how to do it,” he says and stresses “But don’t be afraid to try, because it teaches you so much that you didn’t even expect.

“I’m currently trying to manage the emotional ups and downs from running all these marathons and the spaces between them. I knew that might be an issue, but it hits me quite hard,” he admits.

He wants as many people as possible to join him on his mission to raise $17,000 for diabetes and heart disease research, and to learn from his experiences along the way: How he eats, paces himself on the marathons, recovers, and train.

Even though he is only a few months into the challenge, he already tunes into his body more: “I think that if I fast forward to January 2018, when I’m finished, I think that one of the biggest learnings that I’ll have is that I will be able to trust my judgement on what is going on with my body and notice the signs a lot earlier.

“Even as a running coach, you feel pressure to do similar things or copy people,” he says, adding “People that I have talked to have said: ‘You must be doing 100s of K a week’ and that is just not the case.

“I’m definitely one of those people who believes in cross training, rather than just running, running, running. I tell the guys I coach: ‘It makes me nervous, if you just run’”, adding from his own experience: “When I’m training for a half-marathon, a marathon, or whatever, and I concentrate purely on running, I get injured.

“What is appropriate for me is actually to do the swimming, the pilates, the stretch and all of that, rather than going out running lots and lots of Ks. Even though most of the people I know are doing lots and lots of Ks. So it’s actually to trust yourself, know your body and listen to it. Do what is appropriate for you, rather than copying everybody else.”

“Your body doesn’t really lie that much,” he says, adding with a laugh “It is just us, ignoring the signs.”

Acknowledging these signs will be vital for him. If he gets injured, the whole 17 mission will stop. A mission that seemed far away when he set off on his first 20K race in a baggy cotton T-shirt and Newcastle United soccer shorts in Brussels.

Back then, becoming a serious runner had never crossed his mind: “I trained and trained and trained. And I was useless. I was slow and I was really self-conscious. And I was really nervous about the whole thing,” he recalls.

Five years ago, when he moved to Melbourne, referred to as the sporting capital of the world, he got more serious about running: “Melbourne had an instant impact on me. I started running more, signed up to races and all our friends became runners,” he says. “You can’t help get influenced by all this activity that is going on.

“I never set out to be a runner. My dad probably instilled in me the initial spark and interest. And then Melbourne has probably given me the push and the motivation and environment to do it more seriously.”

He has worked as a running coach over the last two years and recalls how it all started. He was 12-year-old and joined the old man and mates on their weekly Sunday run: “Even if it was snowing, if it was raining, sunny, whatever. These guys would meet up and they would go for their run. I always remember that I thought that was really cool and I was quite impacted by these guys running,” he says, adding “I used to go on bike with them.”

This year as he takes on his 17 mission, it won’t be on two wheels. You can follow his journey on Facebook, Instagram and Gorunaustralia’s website.

Continue Reading

image

Events

Sep 21, 2018

Suru Fest: India’s Growing Climbing Festival

Two weeks of sending in the remote Suru Valley: From 300 boulder problems to alpine rock climbing in the uncharted Himalayan giants.

image

I don’t usually attend festivals, but the Suru Fest had been on my list for as long as I had heard of it. So in late August this year, I spent a week and a half in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, climbing and bouldering with some of India’s best climbers, as well as a host of international adventurers. This year’s event was the third, and possibly most successful instalment since its inception in 2016.

The festival is the brainchild of Suhail Kakpori and Jamyang “Jammy” Tenzing, ‘Indian Climbing’s Exploring Boulderer’ previously covered by The Outdoor Journal. Jammy organized the first Suru Fest with a small crew of dedicated and passionate Ladakh-based rock climbers, which has now grown into a sustainable, sponsored event attracting climbers from all over the world.

While the idea is to unite the climbers from all across the globe, it is a festival premised on celebrating the power of youth and adventure. It’s held annually from late August until the first week of September and is a force that brings both athletes and creatives together to create inspiring content.

This year’s festival was sponsored by Tata Motors, an Indian multinational conglomerate with hundreds of well-known brands and properties, including Jaguar Land Rover. Eight 2018 Tata Hexa SUVs were made available to move climbers around from place to place, in this remote and wild part of the world. One of the Hexas also waited for us in Leh, but we were waiting for our dog Maurice – we’d flown in, but Maurice was being driven up to Leh from Delhi (about 48 hours by road). We had to wait for him and delay our early morning departure, and eventually get one of the many shared cabs that ply these mountain roads – pretty much the de facto method of getting around in Ladakh.

It was late in the day by the time Maurice arrived in Leh, and Tenzing got us a shared cab for Suru, near Kargil, several hours west of Leh. We then drove through one of the most picturesque landscapes in India. The road is very well paved for the most part of the journey, which isn’t usually the case in and around the Himalayas. The thought of being at the Suru Fest hadn’t quite settled in yet – perhaps I simply didn’t know what to expect. This was my first climbing festival and all I knew was that I was going to spend a week climbing and exploring the valley.

Unlike Leh and its location on the trans-Himalayan plateau, which comprises of high altitude arid desert, Suru is green, with agricultural activity. We reached Barsoo, a small village in Suru close to midnight. Upon entering the campsite, I was shown my way to a 3-man GIPFEL tent – a new, Indian outdoor gear make and the 2018 Suru Fest’s climbing equipment partner. In the morning I woke up to a sweeping view of the scenic valley that surrounded our campground. We had a pre-bouldering yoga session scheduled first thing in the morning, before breakfast… Talk about a flying start to the adventure! Following the session, we had breakfast and went exploring the climbing areas. “Most of the rocks here have been climbed, graded and documented. The topography to this area is also well underway” Jamyang told us. There are about 6 dedicated climbing areas in Suru and 300 problems with grades varying from 5C to 8A+.  The Suru tribe has and is fully invested in expanding the scope of climbing in Ladakh and also across India.

Amongst the few known Indian athletes and some elite climbers, Suru also hosted three IFMGA guides, two of which were from Georgia and one from the United States. The Georgians rigged their first sports route on a highball near the shore of the boulder-choked Suru river; their first in the himalayas. Sunny Jamshedji was another important addition to the festival whose tryst with trad-climbing has taken him across 20 US states over 22 years. I had heard of him through Prerna, who went climbing with him in Dhauj. The festival certainly couldn’t have asked for more experienced company.

Meanwhile, I lucked out when Luke Smithwick, an IFMGA guide and a prolific American climber with over 50 unclimbed Himalayan six-thousanders to his name, lead me up on my first multi-pitch trad climb. We did three pitches and an FA of a 5.6 route we named, “The Windy Novice”. As an inexperienced climber who is just getting started, I couldn’t have been more stoked. There are inherent risks involved in trad; you often expect your partner to have some kind of real rock experience before taking him out on a big Himalayan slab climb. Nonetheless, this was something I had been looking forward to for some time and I am glad to have made the experience with Luke, who mentored and lead me up the wall.

Luke on top of the Windy Novice. Photo: Siddhartha Chattopadhyay

“Alpine rock climbing (no snow/ice) in the Himalayas is like climbing alpine rock anywhere in the world with just one caveat. Everything is much bigger than you think! The approaches are longer. The areas are mostly virgins, so there is very little to no information on the approach, route or descent. One has to figure things out themselves on the go. Places like Suru and Miyar have thousands of feet of alpine granite to explore, so if you are willing to do this sort of climbing, then this is an alpine paradise…”,  said Sunny when I asked about his thoughts on climbing in Suru.

Suru Fest is the first of its kind in India. While it constitutes of a demographic representing only a fraction of the population, it is a catalyst in that it suggests a much-needed deviation from the norm. We have long awaited the arrival of a culture that collectively underlines individualism and vigorously captures the spirit of the times. Suru does just that and does it with grace.

“I was particularly happy to send two projects which I was not able to execute last time even though I tried really hard. This is a great measure of progress which one doesn’t get in the gym because the routes there are reset frequently. I was also content to push my personal limits on a 7m highball. Besides the superb quality of the rock and the lines as well as the great weather I love that Suru Fest brings together an amazing crowd of people who share the passion for the outdoors and climbing. Honestly, I first and foremost came to see my friends in India.”, said Svenja Von Jan, a climber and a friend from Germany who also attended the festival last year in 2016.

Svenja Von Jan. Photo: Siddhartha Chattopadhyay

Svenja and I had met a few years ago in Himachal Pradesh in this quiet little village called, Kalga. Back then, I was exploring Parvati Valley in the Kullu district and had become obsessed with this particular mountain, which I hope to climb some day. It was also in Kalga, where I had my first hands-on experience while climbing a highball. We had found this high mossy boulder and were able to put up a few lines. She was strong back then and has undeniably grown stronger since then. So watching her try some hard moves in Suru was inspiring to say the least.

The mountain range that I aspire to climb in Parvati Valley. Photo: Siddhartha Chattopadhyay

When you’re surrounded with experienced climbers you will only improve. The novelty of Suru is that it exposed me to some fine climbing along with some fine climbers. I was particularly drawn to this rock with some interesting looking features, referred to as the Green Mamba, a 7C+ problem. It took Adarsh Singh, a professional athlete, two to three attempts before topping out. I also saw Viraj Sose, who’d climbed Ecstasy Tree, a sick bulging 7C highball in Hampi: a boulder high enough to send chills down your spine.

The Slab. Photo: Siddhartha Chattopadhyay

Looking back on that slab, I still remember the ease with which Luke loosened me up for the climb. “You know what this is?”, he asked me, while holding out a nut tool. “Mhm, I have used it once or twice”, I said with every ounce of confidence I could gather. On our first pitch, while sitting on a ledge, I heard him say “Off Belay”. “Belay off,” I said and started paying out the rope. I had well familiarized myself with the jargon before we started off. On the second pitch, we stood leaning back on the rope with the weight of our bodies distributed equally over a three point anchor system. It took me a while to register that. “This can hold the weight of a big truck”, said Luke reassuringly. Now, closer than ever to the last pitch, the wind had picked up a bit and I felt a wave of euphoria sweeping over me. I then turned to look in the other direction and immediately spotted the Georgians glued to a big vertical wall, it was cinematic! Shortly after topping out, I calmed myself down and caught hold of my breath. “So much to celebrate discomfort,” I sighed.

Now, as I write this from the flat, smoggy and hot environs of Delhi, having returned sooner than I had wanted, I’m looking forward to returning to the high mountains, attending the festival next year and further honing my skills.

loadContinue readingLess Reading

Recent Articles



Nearly 300km/h on a bicycle: Denise Mueller-Korenek shatters world record

Clocking in at 183.93mph, Denise Mueller-Korenek has just set the world record for the fastest speed ever achieved on a bicycle.

The Top 5 Whitewater Kayaking Destinations in North America

The five whitewater kayaking destinations in North America, that every paddler should have on their list.

Uttarakhand Trekking Ban: The Adventure Tourism Industry Reacts

India's adventure tourism leaders are fighting back against the High Court's blanket ban on alpine trekking in the Uttarakhand.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other