RAF 100 Adventure Racing Team
Flt Lt Laura Frowen will be taking part in one of the toughest adventure races in the world: The GODZone Pure. The race runs from 1st-10th March 2018, in the stunning Fiordland in New Zealand. More than 390 racers, from around the world, will compete in unsupported teams of four, travelling across approximately 373 miles (600km) of wilderness. The race will consist of up to 10 days of non-stop racing, including sleeping in the elements, navigating at night, as well as canyoning, coasteering, kayaking, running, mountain biking, orienteering, packrafting and trekking.
The team are no strangers to a challenge. They are drawn from a dozen or so people across the service who have competed together over the past 4 years, fitting races in around their operational deployments. Jamie Buckle is the captain and driving force behind the team. He has competed in 3 AR World Series races and 2 European Series AR events as well as many one-day events in the UK. Recently he completed the Jurassic Coast Challenge (100km from Poole to Bridport) and the Ring of Fire (135 miles around Anglesey). Laura Frowen, navigator, first started adventure racing in a 4 day Hebridean Challenge in 2006 and after a hiatus took up the sport again in 2015. She has competed in an AR World Series race (2017) as well as a Euro Series AR event (2016). As an ultra runner, she has completed the Northern Traverse (190 miles and 16000 ft of ascent across northern England) and several UK Series Mountain Marathons. Charlie Butterfield raced the Euro Series AR (2016), and has competed in the Jurassic Coast Challenge and Marmot Dark Mountains mountain marathon. And Penny Grayson, the most recent addition to the team, brings proven endurance and athletic power after many years of racing ironman triathlon (as a GB age-group athlete) as well as completing the Jurassic Coast Challenge and the Ridgeway Challenge (86 miles along the Ridgeway to Avebury Stones).
Laura Frowen explains how adventure racing can be so inspirational:
For me the defining moment in recent races was in Expedition Africa in early 2017. It was the end of Day 3, and we had spent 2 hours queuing at the top of the Tyrolean Traverse, waiting for our turn and catching some sleep. We got going at about 0100hrs and after an uneventful abseil across the river, with the water glinting below in the dark, we started canoeing downriver. It was my first experience of night paddling and the still, inky water was unnerving. I felt great - really awake and full of energy - but kept losing my balance as the dark water seemed to give me an odd sense of vertigo. (That, and when I stopped to check the map, the fact I couldn’t work out which was the front of the paddle blade, told me that in fact I was, in fact, very, very tired!!) But the chance to paddle down this remote river in the middle of South Africa, with the stars overhead, was utterly magical, one of those moments when you have to stop and just think: “Wow, look at where I am and what we’re all doing!” Coming from a background in ultra running, I love being able to share these moments with other people. After something to eat at the end of the paddle section, we headed out on a trek section which started with a bracing swim across the river just as the sun was coming up.
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