THINKING about getting into mountain biking, running, kayaking, multi-sporting, adventure racing or even bike-packing? (writes Kath Kelly)
I make no bones that I love to race for several reasons other than trying to be the fastest! (Unfortunately those days are gone!)
Firstly, the main reason for entering a race is the challenge, and setting a goal which provides the motivation to succeed.
Secondly, it is the adventure and stories I have to share afterwards, whether it is a good or bad experience. There is a guaranteed learning experience to be gained from every race. Thirdly, it is about the camaraderie surrounding the event and being amongst like-minded characters.
When I began training and racing, I started from the bottom. I was still smoking and drinking quite heavily. At the first few races I was intimidated by other athletes and the challenges I set myself. However, I did a couple of events and I loved it. I was hooked, gave up smoking and cut back the alcohol consumption. With the help of friends and other fellow competitors I soon learned what worked for me and what didn’t. That’s all part of life though, isn’t it!
To begin with, it wasn’t about beating the person next to me, it was about the challenge and experience of how far I could push myself. After winning a few events, admittedly, there has been a period where I felt pressured to perform well and win. This was mainly driven by my own thoughts. However, my supporters and sponsors just wanted me to enjoy the experience, cross the finish line unscathed, happy and with a sense of achievement to share. These days, my goal is to finish, ride hard and if I have a win then that is just the icing on the cake.
I am always happy to offer advice or tips to those that are starting out. If there is one piece of advice I could offer to those who are contemplating getting into any sport, it is that you have nothing to lose by trying it at least once, and anyone can give it a crack. You may surprise even yourself!