Wildside Woman - Alex Orme
We want to know all about you, how and why you got involved in the ‘epicness’ of a 5 day adventure like Wildside?
It was mostly by chance. I was photographing the launch of the CBR100 challenge and my friend Tom Brazier (an up and coming ultra running star) mentioned that he was still looking for a 4th member for their team. I half jokingly/half seriously said that if they were desperate then I’d be keen. I went home and laughed at myself a little but then a day later he rang and said that they were desperate. This was two weeks out.
Luckily I was going to Wellington, NZthe week before the race so I got a few km’s and huge vert on the mountain bike. Oh and we did a casual 5km paddle on the Monday before we left. Basically I was completely unprepared.
I think I said yes because I have this weird drive to push my body to its limits (I ran a few off road ultra marathons last year) and also I knew that the three people I’d be spending 5 days of crazy racing with were friends and our personalities complimented each other. (We’re all a mix of too laid back and competitive - which is a contradiction I know!)
Worst moment in the race?
The worst moment in the race was after the tube down the river. After four hours in the dark and cold we got to the transition area. For the other, very few times we had slept at a T/A we made sure we all got close so we could stay warm, but for some reason this time, probably due to sleep depravation, we had all split up and the boys had taken the sleeping bag and mat. It was cold and the floor was so hard I couldn’t get to sleep and found myself wandering around the hall trying to find a teammate to spoon. I eventually found Sarah under a table and we shivered together for another hour before I gave up and woke the boys up to start moving again.
Pretty sure this was the only time the photographer got us not smiling too – we were all pretty shattered and feeling very sorry for ourselves!
This has actually taken me a really long time to decide. It’s all about the little things in adventure races. The two best moments that stand out were - when we were on the second kayak leg and about 3 hours in on a 6.5 hour paddle. We found this lovely little beach and decided to stop for 15 minutes to stretch our legs. Another was when we got to the stairs at the top of the gorge. I’ve never looked forward to walking up 600 steps so much (even at 2:30 am!)
What 3 things did you quickly realise about adventure racing, being a relative novice to ultra endurance events?
- It is a logistical nightmare
- You can’t get away with having crappy gear
- You can function on no sleep better than you think
Tell us what your ultimate adventure would be?
Oh wow. Where do I start? Mountain biking and running all over New Zealand or road riding the incredible climbs in Italy and France. Trekking in South America or road tripping around Australia.
What was it you wanted to accomplish with an event such as Wildside?
I wanted to see if my body could withstand five days of punishment without totally giving up on me and that I wouldn’t be the weakest member of the team. It ended up being my brain that turned into mush after the race not my body and I found that with AR’s, it’s not about being the weakest member, it’s all about your mental toughness which is more important than physical fitness I think.
Who or What inspired you to actually enter this event?
I have been going to bootcamp for almost two years (because it’s amazing cross training) and through that my instructor has seen me train for long distance running races, mountain bike races and ROGAIN’s. He suggested only a few months ago that I might really enjoy adventure racing and so that was sort of in the back of my head when I said yes to entering.
An event such as Wildside, what about it challenges & changes you?
I’m a pretty spontaneous person and so the biggest challenge of an event like Wildside is the logistics. A week out I was still running around looking for spare light batteries, organising clothes, bikes and food and my team mates did most of the hardest logistics!
In the sense of a change - I think the fact that it takes a whole five days is a really big eye opener in regards to time. For example, we’d have a 38km kayak leg and no one would bat an eyelid when we worked out it would be a 7 hour stint in the boats. It’s not that your perception of time gets warped (because 7 hours in a kayak is still a VERY long time) but now I’m finding that the thought of entering a 24 hour race like the Mont or a Rogain isn’t as daunting as it once was.
Tell us your dreams, what does the future hold for Alex Orme?
Last year I graduated honours in Photography – Half way though this year I started getting serious about making a career and turning my degree into a business.
So hopefully the future holds a successful freelance photography business where I am able to work, travel and of course train, because life is too short to work too hard in something that you don’t love and you never know who is going to ask you to do a five-day adventure race two weeks out!
A quote which you live by?
Spontaneity is the spice of life