In putting this issue together, it became apparent just how much New Zealanders love a challenge. We hear about a lot of them – Tim Taylor who attempted to circumnavigate New Zealand by kayak and Shaun Quincey who rowed across the Tasman are two that immediately spring to mind.
Both received generous media coverage that would have brought a smile to their sponsors’ face. But it’s important to note these high-profile, high-risk challenges aren’t the be all and end all of adventure and exploration. In fact, it’s the challenges and adventures everyday people do every day that are the truly inspiring accomplishments.
Just flick the pages to our main feature on p 43 where we profile some of the little-known, though extraordinary things Kiwi women are doing here and abroad. Mayan Smith-Gobat has spent the last couple of months quietly working away on a rock climbing route in Arapiles in Australia called ‘Punks in the Gym’. If she does it, she will make history as the first female to have climbed an 8b+ route. Mayan has a handful of sponsors, but is living on the bones of her backside in pursuit of her dreams. Even if she wasn’t sponsored, she would still be plugging away at Arapiles.
Closer to home, other Kiwis are doing some pretty neat things that may not make history but are certainly inspiring.
Take Shaun Collins for instance. The mad keen trail runner set out one weekend to run Auckland’s Hillary Trail – a multiday 70km tramp along the rugged Waitakere Ranges and west coast beaches. Not content with running it one way, he also ran back to the start. It took him less than 30 hours to run 140km. No fanfare, no sponsors or charity to raise money for. Just family and friends to celebrate his personal achievement.
And then there’s Joe Fagan who set himself the challenge of sleeping in 30 different huts in 30 nights. Hardly a momentous challenge you might think – after all there are more than 900 huts dotted around the country, so finding 30 to sleep in shouldn’t be too difficult. But Joe’s journey took him from the Coromandel in the north to the Routeburn in the south. And this is exactly the kind of thing that inspires me and captures my imagination. With no fanfare, head quietly to the hills and do something a bit different.
Confession time. I’ve had a very similar challenge to Joe’s on my list of ‘things to do’ for several years now. I’ve always thought it would be neat to tramp (and canoe) the nine Great Walks in 30 days. How’s it going? In a word, nowhere.
The three examples I’ve just highlighted all require similar traits: perseverance and commitment are the obvious ones, but the most important is the decision to actually start the dream. Not put it off until tomorrow, but to head out the door and see where things lead you. Succeed or fail – it doesn’t really matter once you’ve begun. At least you’re trying.
I bet there are lots of people reading this who have some great missions they haven’t managed to get around to doing. That’s why the most important thing about Mayan’s months-long attempt on Punks, Joe’s 30 nights’ challenge, and Shaun’s 140km run, is not that they completed or are still trying to complete what they set out to do, but that they actually began.
They show that you don’t need sponsors or a charity to provide the motivation or reason to fulfil your big, or small, dreams. You just need to head out the door.