photo credit: Ondrej Garaj
Everybody loves heroes. They are fictive characters or real persons who choose to take a stand for what they believe in. No matter how hard it can be, or how long it can take to get there, they will fight for it till the end. The heroism lives in their journey; where they conquer obstacles and forge themselves into stronger individuals.
A hero's journey tends to follow a cycle of steps from the Call to Adventure through the Hero's Trials to the Return Home. All of these steps help transform everyday people into legendary heroes. Let me tell you about my hero’s journey at Buckley’s Chance Races 2016:
Call to Adventure.
I received an email from race directors Emilie and Chief Brabon to do the Dingo’s Double, which requires completing the Survival Run Australia followed by the 50k Buckley's "Off" Trail Ultra only 12 hours after.
Fear of failure makes the hero refuse at first: “I am not ready for this... The pressure is on me because I completed the Devil’s Double in Nicaragua... I can’t afford travelling on the other side of the world…”
Crossing the Threshold.
You follow the path of a hero when, even with great fear and many uncertainties, you choose to step into the adventure. My biggest challenge was to deal with the pressure of performance, having been the only woman to complete both Survival Run and the Devil’s Double in Nicaragua 2016. I had to accept the invitation, and then face any result I would get. Every time you get out of your comfort zone, you grow up. Dreams are not there waiting for you; you have to chase them! Fear of failing won’t go away. It is your access to success. You must take that leap of faith, with all your fear and passion, and trust the process.
photo credit: Ondrej Garaj
To choose the path of no return is where the mind, body, and spirit must join all forces:
Prepare the BODY: train physically for the known and the unknown. A 24-hour Survival Run followed by a 50k off trail run is an enormous physical demand. Train smart; train accordingly.
Challenge your MIND: the mental strength required to accomplish big things is always underestimated. I am sorry to tell you this but if you think it’s gruelingly hard and demanding, you are still in your comfort zone. If you seriously want to quit, or think that you are already beyond your limits, you are then at the right place. You are at the doorstep of a whole new realm of possibilities. Remember: You are always stronger than you think you are. Believe in yourself.
Your SPIRIT must be pure. It must be filled with authentic motivation; the passion burning within your heart. If you are here to prove something to someone, including yourself, you chose the wrong battle. You must be here because your confidence and determination make you bold as a lion in the face of any adversity. So know your “why”; be true to yourself.
When the start of the Survival Run was given, I got to face many things: the Australian rainforest wilderness, go through night time, get lost and add time and distance to retrieve my path, swim across lakes, carry logs and rocks, harvest trees, build a raft, memorize drawings, run barefoot, scout for water, sprint hills to chase and catch “prey” using aboriginal hunting techniques - Welcome to the Survival Run!
There will be a point where physically, mentally, and emotionally you will break down. I know for most survival runners, including myself, it was when we had to drag a rock and our gear on a travois up a long hill under the blazing sun. There were nine false summits we had to face, embrace, and push over. The sight of the next one was like a stab in the back. My food and water were out of reach, all tied up on my travois. My rock fell twice and impaired my travois so I had to fix it each time. My pace was as slow as simply putting my left heel in front of my right toes. This marking point in your adventure is the doorstep to your "Wheady Mile". Will you choose to break down and die here? Or will you take that one extra step, which feels like you are walking toward your own death, but can actually lead you to a whole new world of possibilities?
photo credit: Ondrej Garaj
This is the final order. After “killing the dragon”, you think it is over, and that the treasure is finally yours. In my race, this is where I received the third medallion. To get the fourth and last one, I had to go get my spear that I left somewhere 12 hours earlier, and bring it back to the finish line. Easy, right? Not so fast Little Red! I had to climb up (again) this nine-false-summit hill. Half way in my quest, I encountered Tegyn, in the lead, heading back down with his full load of timber, with which we built a raft earlier. My face dropped and dragged down the energy I had left in me. How in the hell will I carry what feels like my own body weight in timber after racing non-stop for 20+ hours, with the heat and lack of sleep slowly taking over my strength?
“It is not a matter of IF, but HOW I will make it happen.” I stopped thinking, and simply focused on executing. Even if I had to drag it until all my ropes break, I had to carry this “burden” of timber over 2 kilometers to the finish line. The clock was ticking. If earlier in the race I was able to put it once on my shoulder, and carry it for 100 meters, I could do it again. It’s only 20 more times. How? One step at a time - which I did.
Keep your eyes on the big picture so you don’t burn your BODY, but assess one task at a time so you don’t burn your MIND. And keep your SPIRIT high the whole time.
The reward of completing a Survival Run can’t be explained. It can only be lived. Probably just like how William Buckley felt when he escaped. Something that was almost impossible, just like a Survival Run. Hence the expression “You’ve got Buckley’s chance.”
The Road Back.
There is always one last challenge the hero must face on the way back. Mine was to tackle the 50k off trail race, only 12 hours after the Survival Run. I ate all night like a ravening wolf, took a warm bath (fighting not to fall asleep in it!), and slept for 4 hours. It was before dawn that I got up and put on my red hood again, and went to face my last challenge. How is it doable? My goal was to complete the Dingo’s Double, so I kept my eyes on the goal until I reached it. I chose to run it safely, without getting lost or overheated; to grind until the end - which I did.
The Return Home.
Each and every challenge you overcome changes you. As I write this, sitting in an airport in New Zealand, my perception of life has already been altered, but only in good ways. I am an improved version of myself, discovering new possibilities I couldn’t see before. Every finish line is the start of a new adventure. Now that Little Red got rid of the Big Bad Wolf and saved Grandma, she is ready for her next “walkabout”. And the first edition of the Survival Run Canada in 2017 is one of them!
By sharing with you my hero’s journey in the Survival Run Australia and the Dingo’s Double, I hope it can make a difference in your life; inspire you to take on the challenges that are awaiting for you. Create the opportunities for yourself; go accomplish big things; be the hero of your own story. This is my legacy to you, but only together we can build a better world. Every step we choose to take in the unknown towards our biggest dreams, is where the heroes rise.
I believe in the saying “actions speak louder than words.” So get off your phone or laptop, and go write your story in real time! … While I keep writing mine. ;)
To Be Continued!
Request Hélène for a conference on how to “become the hero of your own adventure”.