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NEXT ROVING RACE IN SRI LANKA (Starts on 14 Feb 2016)
Finding spirit in adversity

It was during The Long March – often the toughest mental and physical test in a 4 Deserts / Roving Race – that New Zealander Tim Lichtenstein, 51, a commercial real estate broker from Auckland, sat down and wondered if he could go on.

There was just five kilometres to go, but he was in pain with his feet a blistered, swollen mess. The remaining terrain was unrelentingly stony and undulating.

But it was here that the spirit that bound Lichtenstein and his teammates from Team NZ was never more evident.

James Spence, a 31-year-old management executive, came up with the idea of relieving Lichtenstein of his backpack while he and another teammate, Kim Hughes, 33, took Lichtenstein’s shoulders and carried him over the remainder of the stage.

“It was an extremely humbling experience,” Lichtenstein said after Team NZ had marched off the course.

“It was the power of human spirit and team work all coming together.”

The New Zealanders were one of the teams competing in this year’s RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015.

Lichtenstein, Spence, Hughes and Charles Cooper, 49, were in no doubt that there were many benefits to competing as a team, in particular that there was a better chance of finishing with each team member making a contribution to dynamics to make it work.

Lichtenstein, Cooper and Hughes, who all live in New Zealand, have competed in a number of races together as a three-person team there and in Australia.

When they decided to compete in Ecuador, Hughes’ best friend, Spence, came on board. The three Kiwis trained together in New Zealand, with Spence training on his own in Belgium.

“It was a leap of faith to bring a new person into a newly-formed team for the race in Ecuador,” Hughes said. “But I was following RacingThePlanet on social media and had read an article on the website about team competing and thought it was great. I knew that this was going to be our next challenge and to compete in a RacingThePlanet race was a natural progression for our well-established three-person unit as we were looking for our next challenge.”

Once formed, another New Zealander taking part in the event, Hamish Travers, became an unofficial team member.

Travers, who had joined the race as an individual, said competing successfully as a team was contingent on several variables based on his observations of Team NZ.

“You have to have the right people, the camaraderie has to be natural and cannot be forced and you have to understand all the strengths and weaknesses of everyone and be ready to deal with those at any times and be positive,” he said.

The team set out with three objectives – to get to the start, finish and have fun – and said they would compete as a team again as all these objectives had been achieved.

The team were hopeful of raising US$10,000 for Free To Run, a charity which uses running, physical fitness and outdoor adventure as a means of empowering females in conflict-effected areas.


By Melanie Ho

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