Can’t say I went hungry while in Fiji. So much tasty goodness. A lot of the time at the resort was spent deciding what and where to eat next. There was an amazing Sheraton breakfast buffet, with a fresh juice bar complete with smoothies and protein drinks. Even made to order eggs. Good thing there was a gym and numerous beach activities.
Our first days in the interior jungle we lived on Backcountry meals and protein bars. Some people are not fans if rehydrated meals. I thought they were tasty, except for when they were crunchy. But that was usually due to me not adding adequate water and being impatient.
By the time the race was going, so was catering. The local catering crew had mad skills and worked long hours, but always greeted us with smiles. Seriously in a field they whipped out fresh pastries, cookies, breakfast, lunch and dinner! When it’s raining, your sliding in mud on limited sleep….a hot meal can be a game changer.
Then there were the Wavaka villagers at Camp 2. The village ladies came over for tea. Little did I know ‘tea’ meant tea/coffee and 2 trays of fresh baked breads! There is just something unexplainable about sharing food with others, there is a coming together a sense of community. I will be forever grateful to those near and far that have shared their food and allowed me to become part of their world.
What finer things to do than travel and eat well? Even if you could only afford to do it rarely, the fact that you aspire to that, and are willing to spend money. I think that speaks well of people” Anthony Bourdain
When we arrived at Camp 2, the command post was already set up, since it was late we opted to sleep inside under the giant race map! There was also the business of meeting the local village workers. Little did we know those guys would share so much with us in the coming days.
Our camp was 2 of 4. WE’RE #2!!!!! There was a command post, medical, media and food tent. I eventually got my tent up!
Camps were where teams could meet with their team assistant(TA). The camp volunteers stationed at that the camps organized a site for each team and their gear was delivered to that spot. When teams or their TA arrived we pointed them in the right direction. It was funny because prior to the race start we had a whole system of how we were gonna do everything. Then the race started, the rain started and things got real. See a large truck would arrive filled to the brim with about 5 large plastic tubs per team and other stuff. All this gear has to be carted over to the camping area. Unfortunately with all the rain and mud we were only able to get the truck so close or they’d get stuck in the mud. Thanks to a lot of rugby strong Fiji men, every tub was carried to the every site and back.
Terry- Malaysia, Tim-US, and Derek-Canada were the other Camp 2 volunteers with Lani as our Lead. It was a joy working/laughing/exploring with all of them. Speaking of Lani she is Fijian and in charge of our camp, heck there wasn’t anything she wasn’t on top of. No matter what urgent matter came up she had the answer, so when people mistook me for her I was stoked (sans answers). Her grace under pressure (especially with very little sleep) is something I aspire to. Being Fijian she made sure we got to catch some of everything and explore. There is some much to see in Fiji but exploring the villages was pure joy!
I was anxious and tired when we landed in Fiji at 5am, it’s a super long flight to paradise. Once again I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but it was big. Other participants and event organizers were milling around the airport terminal, jet lagged from different corners of the world. Once we sorted out groupings, passports and changing money we loaded busses to go to the resort, our home and training location for the next couple of days. Some of the volunteers were experienced and had been part of past Eco Challenges they were way more confident in the goings on than us newbies.
I roomed with Cali from the UK, she was super nice and I just loved to hear talk. What, I like a nice accent. With a couple of other volunteers we explored, ate and prepped for going to our camps. There were credentials, shirts, documents and radios to be picked up. Then the repacking from your luggage to your backpack. It’s a lot like packing for a camping trip, well because that’s exactly what we were doing. Adventure camping in the jungle, as usual I could have been more prepared. Live and learn!
The adventure part of Adventure Racing (AR) is what really excites me. Like long distance biking, thru-hiking and even burning man, AR is just little out there. The energy and build up in the preparation. Knowing it’s gonna be hard, challenging, frustrating and you’ll ask yourself, many times, why am I here. But you push on through the fears and doubts with the help of like minnded people who remind you of the magic in an adventure.
The next stage of this adventure began with a 6 hour van ride to our remote Camp 2. Seeing the city melt into the remote country side is quite the experience.
It’s hard to explain how surreal this was for me. 17 years ago I watched Eco Challenge on TV and now here I was, a part of it. When I applied I doubted I would make the cut. Seriously you should have seen my application video, it was so……me. I guess that’s the key throw your hat in the ring and be yourself. But yeah that’s basically how I ended up a volunteer in the World’s Toughest Race. For those of you watching on Amazon Prime…(I know you are)…..check me out on X-Ray bonus feature!