Ultra Humps – The Big Hairy Arse Goal (BHAG)

UltraMan CoachPrevious articles have advised why I chose Ray Boardman as the Coach I wanted.  A Coach to help me achieve my dreams and achieve my personal tests physically, which would also test my mental fortitude to the extreme.  So briefly for the newcomers to Qwik Kiwi, Ray was a simple choice.  I struggled on my third Ironman because I simply didn’t take it seriously.  I did the training but also partied like no tomorrow.  I was fortunate that Ray was on the course, not as an athlete this time, but in support of his clients competing in Ironman 2014.  Ray knew me from the Army and even though his clients had finished for the day, he stayed on the course to support me and get me to that infamous finish line.  I had added two hours to my time and was completely disappointed with myself.  I knew Ironman demands respect and I didn’t give it.  I returned to Timor from Ironman where I was then serving with the Army and by chance I picked up a book in the Airport bookshop in Darwin called Finding Ultra by Rich Roll.  After reading it I knew what I wanted… and I knew who I wanted to get me there… Ray Boardman.

I Google searched events in New Zealand and made a list of what I wanted to achieve and contacted Ray.  After listing everything as my ‘Aim’ from Half Marathons, Marathons, Half Ironmans through to Ironmans, I then added my ‘Goal’: Ultraman.  I sent the email to Ray and gave him the option that if he thought I was dreaming, I wouldn’t take it personally if he didn’t want me as a client.  The response was full of excitement from both ends.  Ray said the harder the challenge the more excitement he gets.  He looked at my self training (plucking) I was doing and took me back to basics to start afresh with his coaching.  He looked at my wish list of events and revised it for me (just as well).  Since then, Ultraman has been in the back of both our minds, but it is an event where only 40 athletes are accepted.  I followed the website daily throughout 2015 and once they opened it for entrants for 2016 I emailed Ray and said,“okay time to sign up for Ultraman, but as always, only if I get the green light from you”.  Ray excitedly responded with “DO IT”!

I entered and received an email from Ultraman on the date where they advertised notifications, which I opened about the same time Ray’s text came through asking if we were a go.  I gulped and replied to both Ultraman and Ray.  So 14-16 May 2016 I will be pushing myself to my limits as follows:

Day 1 = 10 Km Swim, 140 Km Cycle (time allowed 6 hours each, 12 hours max);

Day 2 = 281.1 Km Cycle (time allowed 12 hours max), and

Day 3 = 84.3 Km Run [double Marathon] (time allowed 12 hours max).

But the end goal isn’t just for me.  I want to fund raise for a cause.  Having been in the Army for 33 years in January of 2016, I wanted to give something back to the organisation.  I approached the hierarchy in the New Zealand Defence Force and also discussed the idea with Ray.  There are personnel serving who have been wounded in action in places like Afghanistan where both Ray and I have served.  There are personnel who have been injured in training accidents in New Zealand and there are grieving families who have lost loved ones in either training or on operations overseas, plus children without their fathers.  So I went to Burnham Camp at the start of December and spoke to the athletes that are attending the Invictus Games, which is very much the world wide Defence version of the Paralympic Games with Prince Harry as the Patron.  Ray attended in support of my presentation where there were people in wheelchairs, missing limbs and cancer survivors, some with emotion in their eyes as I spoke.

So from here – Ray wishes to run a weekly update to follow, which this story is the start of.  I must acknowledge Ray from the outset though.  The role of the Coach will be twice as hard and probably harder than for me as the athlete.  For Ironman and other events, the Coach gets you to the start line and it’s all up to you on the day with volunteers providing the aid to get you to the finish line with your Coach watching eagerly.  Ultraman has no aid stations, so not only does Ray have to get me to the start line, he has to be Team Manager and provide the aid as we go during the double Marathon when we both agree my body will be going into shut down mode. Ray will be running beside me playing tag with other support members, but not just as a pacer but also handling the nourishment for not only me as the athlete, but also himself and the support team as they play tag with each other.

One thing I told my family from the outset, I can’t do this without the support of family, friends and work colleagues, and I know my Qwik Kiwi colleagues will be in the back of my mind.  (Google search Ultraman Oz and read what its all about and stay tuned for further updates from Ray’s Qwik Kiwi Newsletter and blog).

– John Humphries (aka Humps)

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