Saturday, February 23, 2013


Was the Ice Run the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted? Quite probably. The life of an adventurer means constantly having to live outside your comfort zone, a zone with a border that continually slips from your grasp. Fellow Ice Runner Ben Cooke wrote, “I think the only way to determine who you are is by putting yourself in situations, internally or externally, which will reveal more of how you work, how you tick. Many people are afraid to see the gears that work the clock, in case they are dirty. I would rather be dirty and know than live in blissful ignorance.” We humans all revert to type under stress. It turns out my grimy gears expose me for the grouchy control freak I am.  

For example, on our last morning in Siberia I lay unconscious in my bed after the night’s finish line party. Our day began with a ceremony on the Arctic Circle which included the ritual torching of a Ural and finished with dinner and dancing with Salekhard’s chief of police, after which we drank vodka in a night club until 3:00AM. My last, dim memory of the evening was watching the barman pour brandy over the counter and setting it alight to shoo the strippers away. Four hours later Nick and Paddy attempted to wake me for our early taxi ride to the airport by switching on the light. “Turn that bloody light off!”, I shouted, apparently (I have no recollection of the exchange). Björn and Rico tried again to wake me an hour later with more success. But it goes to show, the inner workings of your soul, or at least your limbic brain, like mine, is probably in need of a good cleaning. 

So, go. Go find out who you are. Who you are under stress. Stretch the limits of your experience and your capacity. It’s easy. If the challenge scares you then it’s a good sign it’s something that will ultimately enrich you and help you learn who you are. With that knowledge you can become anyone you want to be. As the Germans like to say, “Geh mit Gott, aber geh.” 

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