A SURREY HILLS CHALLENGE RACE REPORT BY TOBIAS MEWS
‘Who’s heard of the Adventure Fun Scale?’ I ask the audience of trail runners who’d come to hear me speak on Saturday evening at Denbies Wine Estate, courtesy of Aussie Grit Apparel and Trekking & Outdoors. I expected to see plenty of nods and appreciating smiles. Instead, I saw a universal look of bewilderment, maybe the odd ‘WTF?’
Perhaps it’s not as well-known as I thought, I mutter to myself as I begin to explain what the 3 types of fun are, and in the same moment, ponder upon what Type the following day’s marathon in the Surrey Hills Challenge will come under. I cast a glance outside and note that it’s still raining and getting increasingly cold. Never a good sign.
TYPE 1 FUN
This is the arguably the best type of fun. Think tobogganing, or skiing down a beautifully groomed piste, carving up the snow like a pro. Or perhaps you’re tubing down a glorious crystal clear river on the first day of your holiday, the sun gently radiating on your weary body. It’s basically fun during and still fun when you look back on those happy memories!
TYPE 2 FUN
If you’re an endurance athlete, many of you will be all too familiar with Type 2 Fun. Running an ultra marathon, mountain biking 100 miles across several mountain passes with the odd tumble and fall, swimming across the chilly and rather busy English Channel, running a vertical kilometre in driving rain.
“WE MAY BE WET, TIRED AND BROKEN – BUT WE WON’T BE BEATEN!”
All these adventures sound like a great idea when you sign up, but then months later, when you’re 30 miles into a hundred-mile ultra marathon and your feet feel as if they’ve someone smacking them with a hot poker, most would agree it’s not fun.
The monkey on your shoulders whispers ideas about quitting or telling you that perhaps you should focus your efforts on 5k park runs. But once you reach the finish, the endorphins kick in and a few days later, whilst sitting in the pub with your mates, you tell them how bloody brilliant the race was and how you’ve already signed up for next year’s edition. So – not fun during, but fun upon reflection!
TYPE 3 FUN
You never want to go there. If you’re a film fan, picture the stories in Touching the Void, 127 Hours, Vertical Limit, Everest, Titanic, etc. In short, it’s the sort of adventure that you never want to repeat. It’s not fun during, nor fun when you look back on it later on in life, even if someone does turn your experience into a feature film. Avoid all forms of Type 3 fun!
THE SURREY HILLS CHALLENGE
For the hundreds of trail runners taking part in the Surrey Hills Challenge last weekend, there’s no doubt that more than a few will categorise their experience as Type 2 Fun. It wasn’t necessarily because of the distance – although those doing the 60k Ultra or the Full (marathon) might disagree – it was more to do with the torrential rain that accompanied us for the first six hours of the day.
Small streams flowed down the sodden footpaths, puddles were abundant, mud was plentiful – it had all the hallmarks of a miserable day. Except for me, it wasn’t. Crappy weather brings out in us Brits a steely determination to get the job done with a smile. I also see it as an opportunity to raise my game, embracing the weather like an old friend.
I’m a true believer that it’s only in times of adversity that we can really find out what we’re capable of. You can train for a marathon or an ultra – that’s easy. But when you’re cold, drenched to the bone and still only a quarter of the way into the race, that’s when you have to dig deep. It’s all too easy to have dark thoughts. But you shouldn’t, and nor do you need to.
FINDING THE SWEET SPOT OF ADVENTURE!
Put a smile on your face, give yourself a pep talk if needs be, chat to your fellow runners and encourage them on, have an energy bar or a gel, remove the grit from your shoes that’s causing the pain, and get on with it!
You’ll then find yourself in what I call the sweet spot of adventure: Type 1.5 Fun. It’s challenging yet still fun.
Revel in the fact that most of your friends, who probably looked out the window, saw the rain and rolled over in bed, will be shocked and impressed to hear that you ran a trail race in torrential conditions. Just think about that the next time you’re having a hard time during a race!
As I arrived over the finish line in fifth place after completing the Full, cut and bruised from a fall, soaking wet and slightly miffed after taking a wrong turn and subsequently losing several positions, I could nevertheless categorically say with hand-on-heart that I enjoyed myself. And looking back on the experience now, as I write this final paragraph, I’m so glad I didn’t press snooze on my alarm at 6.30 that morning. The Surrey Hills Challenge was the perfect blend of Type 1 and Type 2 fun. And I’d happily do it all over again, in exactly the same conditions!
TREKKING & OUTDOORS PARTNER WITH AUSSIE GRIT APPAREL
Aussie Grit Apparel has expanded its partner presence in the UK with the addition of new retailer Trekking & Outdoors. The store is situated in the village of Shere in the Surrey Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and mecca for trail runners and mountain bikers in the South East of England.
Established in 2002 by Elaina and Mick, Trekking & Outdoors is an iconic business known to cater for every solution for trekkers and trail runners and have recently expanded their retail offering to include trail riding kit. Their thriving operation includes a retail store, kit hire service and a trail running and trekking experiences service for both the UK and abroad. An ideal fit for the off-road and adventure focused Aussie Grit Apparel.
To launch the partnership an ‘evening with’ Aussie Grit Apparel ambassador Tobias Mews was held on the eve of the Surrey Hills Challenge last Saturday, September 22 (an event which both companies sponsored). Event participants and Trekking & Outdoors’ local contacts were invited to attend the free inspiring talk and book signing with Tobias the night before.
Aussie Grit Apparel founder Mark Webber said of the partnership; “We’ve always set out to work with a small number of retailers in the UK and choose only partners we knew were passionate about retailing technical performance apparel, specific to mountain biking, gravel and adventure riding and trail running.
“Each partner offer enormous specialist knowledge, are well located and importantly are very active in supporting their local off-road focused sports community – which is why Trekking & Outdoors was a perfect fit.
“We’re really looking forward to working with them and seeing the Aussie Grit brand grow in their hands.”