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NEXT ROVING RACE IN SRI LANKA (Starts on 14 Feb 2016)
Mental Toughness
From sharing an iPod to spending a week competing in RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 without a single argument, South Africans Nicole Morgan and Allister Kreft have gotten their 4 Deserts / Roving Race “careers” off to a strong start. While the couple suffered some low moments during the race, ultimately they triumphed over adversity, claiming their first finishers’ medals.

But as they proudly celebrated their achievements at the finish line, they hadn’t always been in such high spirits. Having found their way through four challenging stages, Kreft, who is the founder of a wine distribution company, and Morgan, a medical doctor in Cape Town, felt like they couldn’t tackle the Long March. 

On the night before and the morning of the Long March, we felt like we couldn't go ahead,” Kreft said. “We were almost depressed. We didn't want to get up. It was a hard low. It was harder as we were in the schoolroom and not our normal tent.”

Kreft and Morgan had found Stage 4 particularly tough and while they wanted to go back to their tents to decompress, but they found themselves not only with their tent mates, but with 30 other competitors in the classroom camp site. It was almost too much and three km into the Long March, the pair thought about giving up. However, they concentrated their attention on the next pink flag.

“We decided to run to the next pink ribbon, and walk to the next, alternate it like that,” Kreft said. “It worked. Nic is a doctor and works long hours so she’s used to challenges, but she'd only competed in one other 30 km race.”

In the end, the Long March turned out better than they expected. Once the routine had been set, the pair followed it and enjoyed the downhills in the fog.

“We saved our iPod for that day and took it turns, singing along to the songs,” Morgan said.

With the races requiring just as much – if not more – mental strength as physical strength, Kreft and Morgan also kept themselves occupied by telling stories.

“Allister would say we were shipwrecked on a desert island, which was an analogy for the race, and on the last we would be rescued,” Morgan said. “But the other competitors were also a great motivation.”

“The mental challenge of this event is bigger than the physical challenge, especially if you're at the back of the pack,” Kreft said. “The race is like living a concentrated life.”

From the encouragement from their tent mates to swapping snacks with fellow competitors, Kreft and Morgan felt that the camaraderie between the competitors helped keep them going. And while at one point they thought they wouldn’t finish, now they are in a different state of shock.

“The problem with finishing something like this is that you're in a state of limbo,” Kreft and Morgan said. “We may go into a state of depression. It's back to reality, we fly tomorrow. There will be no more training in our lives so what will we do next?”     

Like many other 4 Deserts / Roving Race competitors, they may already be planning their return visit.


By Melanie Ho

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