Regional sales manager, mountaineer, adventurer and motivational speaker, Grant ‘Axe’ Rawlinson has just powered his way from the highest point of New Zealand’s North Island to the highest point in the South Island using human power and human power alone.
310km of kayaking (including the notorious Cook Strait)
930km of road cycling
6000m+ of vertical climbing and descent on New Zealand’s highest mountains.
We caught up with ‘Axe’ to find out about his preparation for this incredible test of endurance, which he managed to complete in 22 days.
How physically fit do you have to be to undertake a challenge like this?
“This was very much an endurance based journey, requiring us to be able to continuously kayak, cycle or climb for hours and hours, in often quite extreme conditions, with very little food or water. I climbed Aoraki Mount Cook for 21-and-a-half hours continuously, on 750ml of water and four sweets.”
How important is mental strength?
“Expeditions like this require huge amounts of mental strength as well as the physical fitness aspect. A lot of people looks great in the gym or running a marathon in a controlled environment, which is safe and they have access to plenty of drinks and food. There is also no ‘terror’ factor – meaning they are not scared stiff, a feeling that takes up lots of energy. Independent expeditions like Peak-to- Peak are not so controlled, so as well as the physical grunt you are also working hard to stay safe. This adds enormously to the challenge – you have to keep things together when you are tired, cold and scared stiff, not having eaten for 12 hours or more. How tough are you and how much do you want it?”
What training do you do?
“In Singapore I train under the tutelage of UFIT gym instructor Darren Blakeley. A typical week would see me doing two gym sessions with heavy weights focussing on building lean muscle and developing strength and flexibilty as well as the core. I would have two cycle sessions of 40-100km duration, a hill run and a kayak of 20km.”
What food/nutrition do you take with you on an expedition?
“We carry all our food so have to be careful with what we bring for weight reasons. I ate probably six times a day when cycling as I was burning so much energy – it was 8-12 hours exercise. Mountaineering provides more of a challenge; we carry pasta and small tins of tomato paste and tuna for dinner, porridge made with milk powder and sugar for breakfast, and cereal bars, chocolate and sweets for lunch and snacks. We try and stay away from too much dehydrated food, the taste gets a bit bland after a while.”
Was there also a charitable element?
‘When we reached the summit of Mount Ruapehu, we made a donation of NZ$1000 to the volunteer fire rescue services which had helped save my sister’s life in a car accident the year before.”
To find out more about Grant’s activities, go to: axeoneverest.com and to read about Grant’s adventure, grab the latest edition of EX (out end of January 2014).