Mark Sky, a professional adventure racer from Squamish, will paddle, run, mountain bike, climb, raft and sail his way through the 670-kilometre Eco-Challenge Fiji in September.
Forget the 40-hour work week, how about the 40-hour workday? It’ll be that long or longer before Mark Sky catches even a catnap come mid-September.Squamish’s Sky and three teammates head to Fiji on Aug. 22 to take part in a race billed as the world’s toughest, a 24-hours-a-day endurance test from Sept. 10-21 covering at least 670 kilometres of jungle, mountains, cliffs, rivers and ocean.“In a race like this we’ll probably go approximately, I’m going to guess, 40 to 60 hours before we even sleep for five minutes,” Sky, who has been a professional adventure racer for three years, said. “There is no stopping in a race like this.Related
“We basically keep racing until all four team members are hallucinating really badly to the point we need some sleep. Then we generally lay down and sleep for anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes and then we’ll get back up and start racing until we get to that point again.”Twelve days is 288 hours, so that means just six or seven nap breaks over the course of the race.“Generally 40 to 50 hours is when it (hallucinating) starts and it gets progressively worse and worse until you sleep,” Sky said. “And they told us the race covers 670 kilometres, but that’s if you run a perfect race, which is basically impossible.”
Mark Sky, a Squamish adventure racer, will paddle, run, mountain bike, climb and raft his way through almost 700-km in Eco-Challenge:Fiji.
Eco-Challenge Fiji, a reincarnation of a nine-season TV series that ran until 2002, will involve jungle trekking, outrigger canoeing between islands, trail running, climbing fixed ropes, rappelling, white-water rafting, mountain biking, paddle boarding and sailing a Polynesian water craft.There are 60 teams representing 30 countries which will be documented by drones and 35 camera crews with state-of-the-art hand-held gyro cameras, filming in 4K HDR. It will be shown in 10 parts on Amazon Prime.Racers leave their cellphones behind, their only orientation tools are a map and a compass.Until the race starts they have no clue as to the course, only that they need to be as handy slashing their way through the jungle as they are sailing the sea in the kind of boat the original Indigenous explorers used to colonize islands all over Polynesia.Related
“They’re custom building them for all the teams out of bamboo and traditional materials,” Sky said. “The thing is, nobody knows how to sail them because nobody has any experience in them.”Physical endurance gets you through the first 24 hours, he said, then it becomes a mental game.If one teammate can’t go on, the whole team is disqualified.“If someone’s not feeling good we take weight off their back, we carry their pack,” the 34-year-old said. “If someone’s going slow on a bicycle, we all have these retractable dog leashes we hook onto our bike seats and we’ll extend them out and hook them to a teammate’s bike.“If they hurt themselves, we may have to carry them.”Sky’s four-member crew — which includes two Montrealers and a Dane — is Team Atlas and represents Canada at Eco Challenge Fiji, but usually the team goes by the name Bend Racing and is ranked in the top 20 adventure racing reams worldwide. Last year it rose as high as seventh.There are no apex predators to worry about in the Fiji race, Sky said, but there is a highly poisonous water snake to consider.“But its mouth is really small so unless it bites you between your toes or fingers, I think you’re OK.”In the past three years Sky has raced at least a couple of dozen such events, but this one, besides the US$100,000 first-prize purse, is special: He gets to race against Travis Macy, whose book Ultra Mindset sparked Sky’s enthusiasm for the sport at the age of 32; and Squamish’s Jen Seger, his first adventure racing coach.It’s cool, Sky said, that the race will be shown on TV so viewers can see the just how much mental endurance it takes.“It’s definitely the hardest sport in the world.”Related
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