Nelson endurance athletes are gearing up for the biggest race of their lives as they prepare to hit the world stage later this month.
The New Zealand Black Warriors, a team of six elite athletes, head to London next week to compete in the Obstacle Course Racing World Championship. Three of the six are from Nelson.
Kevin Ford, Caleb Scowen and Tash Knight all qualified through the only gateway event to be held in New Zealand – Wairua Warrior 2018.
They will each compete in different events, with Kevin taking on the 3km, 15km, 7km team event and the 7km charity event.
Kevin says he’s feeling pretty relaxed about it all, even though he’s never competed in anything like this before.
“It’s going to be a lot more intense, the obstacles are bigger, the courses are further, it’s going to be a whole different experience. I never thought I’d ever be able to get there realistically.”
The 6000 competitors from 67 countries will start each course with a wristband, and if they fail to successfully complete an obstacle their wristband gets cut, which means they are unable to record a registered time. Essentially, they will not place.
Kevin says his aim is always first and foremost to finish a race.
“Secondly, I try not to be last, but with this one I will be trying to keep my band as well. I just really want to do my best for New Zealand, for Nelson, for my friends and family and for myself.”
Caleb Scowen says it was his sister Tash, the third Nelson team member, who first talked him into doing the Wairua Challenge in 2016.
“From there I just got the itch I suppose, it’s the personal challenge I guess, and you just get addicted is probably the best word.”
He says he’s nervous about competing in London, but also excited.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident than my first Spartan race, but my aim is to finish with a band.”
Kevin is so passionate about the fastest growing sport in the world that he has turned his backyard into his own personal ‘playground’.
His backyard is a self-built obstacle course that he opens to friends and team members to “come and have a play on” and includes a 14-foot curve wall, swinging climbing walls and various other obstacles.
Kevin says obstacle racing isn’t just for elite athletes.
“Anyone can do it, you don’t even have to be able to walk. It’s about helping everyone, we are really focussed on that, we give them some inspiration and it doesn’t matter if you fail, it’s about giving it a go,” he says.