While still in some crazy running ‘euphoria’ after returning home from the Sahara Desert, Sam sent an email to the rest of the Running for Rangers team. It went like this…
This is the next mission.
Jungle Ultra in Peru. June 2016.
It’ll be wonderful. 240kms. 99% humidity. Scorpions the size of cats.
Plant species that leave 3rd-degree burns. New, classic stories from yours truly.
Are we all in??
He received four replies. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Although internally my response was more like ‘f#*K, what am I signing up for??!!! I HATE creepy crawlies.’ Actually, more like terrified of anything that flies into my view or scuttles across the land. And did someone mention Jaguars? Are they even real??!!
With only 70 places available, the four others signed up immediately. It took me until last week however to talk myself into it and for my feet to finally stop peeling too (so attractive). Amazingly, we’ve even recruited a few more to the mix. One of those being Matt, who was one of the ‘stowaways’ from our tent in the desert. Obviously, Pete’s military-style routine, Sam’s fretting and Jacq’s inappropriate comments didn’t put him off too much. And for everyone else, that’s an open invitation too…
Do I really want to do this? Actually, more to the point, can I afford to do this?? Do I really love running this much? But it’s so much more than just running. It’s the challenge, the new environment, the people and more importantly the rhino, elephant and Rangers’ welfare that finally confirmed it was a ‘yes’ for me. Plus, FOMO (fear of missing out); I’d hate to be the only one from the original crew not to be going back.
So the next challenge has been set. Run by a company from the UK, Beyond the Ultimate specialise in ultra races, offering three others throughout the year. The Jungle Ultra will begin on the 3rd of June 2016, starting from Cusco (3,400 m – that’s just below the top of Mount Cook) and taking five days, we will run 230km, again fully self-supported through the tough jungle trails, mountain roads and village tracks, from the Cloud Forest down 10,500ft to the Amazon Jungle below. It will still be one hell of a challenge, to be honest one that terrifies me more than excites me at this point in time.
I’ve signed up for as many long-distance races as possible, with the Abel Tasman (36km), Kepler (62km), Motatapu (52km) and Northburn 100 on the list. Plus I’ve thrown the Red Bull Defiance Multisport Race in there too, just to keep the training interesting.
I often wonder how I ended up here, training for my second ultra in two years. People comment that I am doing some pretty cool things at the moment, and how do I fit it all in? To be honest, I have no idea, it's just happened. I read a quote the other day which said ‘What am I doing? Oh yeah! I’m following my dreams. Ok, calm down.’ This pretty much sums up my thought process every day at the moment.
It is stressful and full on, but I’d be complaining if life weren’t busy. And it’s nothing that a really good run in the hills can’t fix (mostly!). I’m lucky; I’m at a time of my life where I can do these things, plus I have incredible support from my family. Sensible Hollie (and probably Dad!) sometimes think that I should have bought that house instead of travelling, but it doesn’t take long before adventurous Hollie comes back and reassures me that there is plenty of time for that, I’ll get there one day. Competing in these crazy races and publishing Say Yes to Adventure magazine has opened so many doors that no house and mortgage ever would have.
I have 11 months to go, 11 months of training and also 11 months to come up with the funds. Once again, it’s not a cheap exercise, so I’m currently brainstorming some creative ways to get some support. I’ve created a Sponsorship Proposal with some information, and if you, or if you know of anyone that would like to help me, please get in touch. I am incredibly grateful for your support.