IRON WILL ECO CHALLENGE
Ciaran Gray of Nansen Tent / Intake 1 2015
The week began with preparations for Iron Will, ranging from bicycle repair to talks from the founder of Iron Will himself. He gave us helpful tips to try and make the up-coming Eco-Challenge as stress free as possible.
The first day at Iron Will brought a relatively easy challenge of a 30km cycle route with different check points along the way. At each check point you had to complete a different activity as a team. However the second day was NOT as forgiving. We started with a cycle almost double in length from day 1, as well as mini hikes along the way. This involved scaling various kopjies in an attempt to complete all the challenges to collect the maximum amount of points.
After this ferocious morning cycle, we were ‘blessed’ with yet another challenge : an afternoon hike set out with 3 checkpoints along the way. A few Quest teams, who will remain anonymous, managed to get themselves lost along this hike and were sadly unable to complete any of the check points and wandered into camp late that night. The second night was our night out in the bush. Most teams pitched tents in the dark, except for those who were foolish enough to believe they could brave the elements in the cold, Zimbabwean winter bush. Myself, Mike Mandy, Kurt Pollen and Peter Symons were amongst those foolish ‘Bear Gryls wannabees’.
After an awful night’s sleep on the hard ground of Jabulani Nature Reserve we set out on our 3rd day of Iron Will. It was extremely challenging, due predominently to the intense heat, lack of sleep, dehydration and of course the standard mal-function on the bikes. The day’s activities were similar to the previous days except that the morning slot involved hiking and the afternoon was dedicated to another demanding cycle. Once again there were different challenges along the way.
That night all the competitors were more than happy to be back in the comfortable living space at Jabulani, and we all slept like champions in preparation for the final day.
The last day, also named ‘Fun Day’ was definitely our most enjoyable, with technical riding, strategic planning and an obstacle course and ‘4 x 4 tyre track’ along the way. During the afternoon we all relaxed, recovered and attended prize giving.
To summarise a week spent predominantly on our bicycles…. it was a learning experience. We not only learnt a lot about ourselves, but also a lot about each other. We discovered that our true colours are only really exposed when we are out of our comfort zone and in extremely challenging situations. Iron Will 2015 certainly provided plenty of those.