How do you define your first adventure? Is it the time you, your brother and your best friend sneak off into the woods aged about 12 and climb cliffs with no ropes and get that first feeling of freedom and exhilaration? Or is it when you plan a real adventure that takes you out of your comfort zone and awakens something in you? Assuming it’s the second, for me that would be my first true multi-day solo and self-supported run through Vietnam in 2013.
I had been entered into a race called the Vietnam Jungle marathon, a 240km, 6-day run. This was the biggest and most demanding race that I had entered, and I felt that I was pushing my boundaries. Weeks before the event, it was cancelled, and I was faced with the prospect of doing nothing. I decided to take control of the situation and venture to Vietnam alone. I had the ticket, the running kit and the passion; I wasn’t going to let the fact there was no race get in the way, plus I had told everyone I was doing a 240km run!
I flew to Danang with everything crammed into one backpack and the determination to run 240km alone through Vietnam. This trip opened my eyes to adventure. The very nature of the route I had chosen took me away from the usual tourist routes and I was seeing a Vietnam that seemed exclusive to me. The physical demands were not detracting from the adventure but making the achievements even more poignant. During that week, I suffered from heat exhaustion, chafing and a real emotional rollercoaster. When I got to the end, I was the happiest and most content I had ever been. It took nearly a year to make the decision: to make my life about chasing that feeling of fulfilment and seeing how much further I could push myself - both physically and mentally - while seeing some of the world’s most beautiful places.