Running An Ultra-triathlon In Patagonia’s Wilderness
When The Tempest Two took on the elemental force of Patagonia they were left exhausted and hallucinating – but it did teach them their best lesson yet in defeating the negative power of ‘can’t’
Patagonia is a brutally beautiful land where sky runs into mountain and hammers into sea. The elements here are raw and not to be trifled with. When Tom Caulfield and James Whittle, AKA The Tempest Two, were looking for a world-first adventure to follow up their 2015 Atlantic row, they realised that Patagonia would offer one of the world’s most challenging settings for an ultra-triathlon of bike, run and stand up paddleboard (SUP).
Project Patagonia was made up of a 1,600km cycle from north to south, followed by a 65km trail-run circuit on the toughest hiking circuit in the region, and finishing with a 100km SUP between two glacial lakes. The pair planned it all on Google Maps and were soon left wondering if they’d bitten off more than they could chew, in what became the toughest three weeks of their lives...
The word ‘can’t’ is a plague on ideas and innovation that shuts the door on any progress
Q: What was the most rewarding moment?
A: ‘We were totally unsupported throughout and only used Google Maps to plan the entire journey, not really knowing if our route was safe, or even possible. So to finally reach the finish line and complete the trilogy was rewarding beyond belief, but to see how we reacted to the constant setbacks was incredibly rewarding.’
Q: What lesson about mindset did you take away from it?
A: ‘Our greatest mindset lesson from Patagonia was that these enormous distances and daunting challenges are just a series of small, achievable steps. If you have a 60 mile run through the mountains, don’t focus on the finish line, focus on the next step. The same can be applied in everyday life where goals often seem unattainable. Break it down – it always starts with just one step.’
Q: How do you go about training for these challenges?
A: ‘We regularly take on our challenges with short lead times, meaning that the training is crucial to the success of the journey. We apply the principles of deliberate practice, breaking down training into specific blocks and measuring our progress regularly.’
Q: How do you get inspired to pick the next adventure?
A: ‘Our adventures are born in the pub. Everyone has had a great idea in the pub, and that idea often dwindles away with the hangover. We chat about what we personally want to achieve, and the greater reason for doing so. We purposely share our ideas, as an external obligation, motivating us to go out there and make it happen.’
Q: How do you go about removing the ‘C’ word?
A: ‘As simple as it sounds, removing the real four letter C-Word is an incredibly challenging thing to do in life. It’s a slow process that starts with pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone just one time, and realising the effects.’
‘“Can't” is a plague on ideas and innovation that shuts the door on any progress before things even take off. Acknowledging the consequences that come with “can’t” is the first step to opening your eyes to new opportunities and exploring options you may not have thought possible before.’
Q: How important is your partnership to the goals you set yourselves?
A: ‘The partnership is huge, we rely on each other massively to pull through tough times. Not just in the adventure, but in all the planning and training that proceeds it. The competitive spirit we share, mixed with a combined determination to succeed, makes the long journey possible.’
Q: What are your three top pieces of advice for someone looking for, and then embarking on, an adventure challenge?
A:‘Do the challenge that YOU want to do. Not because it will look cool, or someone told you to do it. We pick expeditions based on places and journeys that have been eating away at us for a while, they become an itch that needs to be scratched. This means that when it gets tough and brutal, as it so often does, the core purpose remains solid and true.’
‘If you are planning on doing this with a friend, or a group, then make sure those people share the same intentions, and have a good sense of humour. The enjoyment of a trip will be made by the people you share it with, and when times get tough, those relationships get tested.’
‘Be prepared for it not to go to plan. The sooner you can get to grips with the plan changing the better. There are some things outside of your control that can have a massive impact on your mindset. Don’t let these challenges wobble you – the obstacle is the way.’
For more on The Tempest Two including their motivational speaking visit thetempesttwo.com