Kiwi Olympic swimmer Paul Kingsman said “I trained for 13 years to earn a medal in a two-minute race, by only 4/100ths of a second.” Where could medallists look next, for new challenges and refreshed motivation?
Most sports are based on the ground; powerful, rapid movement and dexterous footwork. How would medallists fare on events where the upper-body does most of the work?
Ben Ainslie understands rope-work, but how masterful would he be on the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at Head 4 Heights? A rope-ladder rigged with rungs four feet apart…it’s a test even for sky-scraping basketball players. Reaching the top in the shortest time, needs technique and long practice.
Some say it takes nerve to dive from the ten-meter board. But really, there is water at the bottom. At Head 4 Heights, the Freefall event is even higher, and there’s only the hard ground to step out over…
Daley Thompson broke a pole, vaulting at the 1988 Olympics. Then again, the pole was only two inches thick and seventeen feet tall…
…the poles at Head 4 Heights are much higher, but they don’t bend much, as team-mates grapple for balance on the tiny High All-Aboard platform; it’s almost a no-contact activity, and fortunately the team don’t have to pass a baton around.
The Head 4 Heights ‘Boxed-Up’ challenge must deserve Olympic status. Those involved need the judgement of gymnasts and the balance of synchronised swimmers, to provide a seamless supply of crates, up from the ground to the top of an ever-more unstable tower…
…and when the tower suddenly, spectacularly collapses? That could be the most popular spectator-event since Women’s Beach Volleyball!
The Olympic governing body should spend a day at Head 4 Heights, deciding on events to include next time around…Rio de Janeiro is quite well known for its high-ropes course!
Nothing beats taking on nature’s basic forces, for a fresh perspective on the ease of everyday life. Ocean racers, mountaineers, polar explorers, desert and rain-forest trekkers all know the reward and challenge of pushing beyond their own limits.
In frightening unprecedented feats, Messner and Habeler ascended Everest without supplementary oxygen, and the crew of La Mondiale rowed across the broad Atlantic, focusing on painful immediate ordeals, barely aware of their human insignificance in the vast surroundings.
Chay Blyth’s determination drove him to sail nonstop westwards round the globe, ten months against prevailing wind and currents. Dee Caffari did the same. If there’s an easy option, these people avoid it.
In 2007, three men endured fiery daytime heat and freezing nights, running, four months through six countries, to cross the Sahara on foot.
The same year saw the first North Pole cycle race; international competitors used studded tyres to speed round a track cut in deep snow, at deep-freeze temperatures.
But for those taking part in the greatest, maddest contests, nature is a greater opponent than any human competition. Martin Strel’s 3300 mile swim of the Amazon wasn’t a race, but he wasn’t alone either; piranhas, crocodiles and sharks kept him company.
Not that it’s necessary to go to remote places to push yourself. New York’s Self-Transcendence race involves 5649 laps of one city block, an unbelievable sixty miles per day for over seven weeks.
The art of Parkour brings impossible feats of urban athleticism and imagination to even the busiest city centres. Balance, sheer speed and defiance of human limitations, shows super-fit individuals like Daniel Ilabaca performing videogame-character stunts.
Whatever you choose for your ultimate challenge, the experience is exhausting, uplifting, inspirational and utterly memorable. Where’ll you be starting yours?