By Athlete Adventurer Ross Edgley
Last year’s schedule was (pleasantly) manic as I set out to raise money and awareness for some truly amazing causes. All from the safety and comfort of my dryrobe, it started in January when I ran a marathon pulling a 1.4 tonne car around Silverstone Race Circuit. In May I then climbed a 20m rope (repeatedly) until I’d climbed the height of Everest (8,848m). Finally — and perhaps the only logical way to top this — in November I completed an Olympic-distance triathlon carrying a 100lbs tree which the media dubbed, “The World’s First Tree-athlon”. But among the sports-based, charity-led mayhem the one piece of kit I was never without was my dryrobe. Here’s why.
World’s Strongest Marathon | 1.4 Tonnes | 26.2 Miles
Silverstone race circuit is iconic! It’s home to British motor racing and renowned around the world. But it’s also a vast stretch of land that’s void of any shelter from the wind and rain which makes it freezing cold in January if you’re crazy enough to try and pull a car around it. This is something I discovered the hard way when at 4:00am I was only 5 miles into my 26.2 mile challenge. Fortunately help was at hand in the form of my support team at THE PROTEIN WORKS™ who came equipped with my beloved — and much needed — dryrobe.
With my lactic-ridden legs growing numb from the cold, we decided to break up the marathon into sets of 2km. In between sets I would be wrapped up, fed (copious amounts of whey protein), stretched and watered and then continue for another 2km. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pleasant and it definitely wasn’t a spectator sport, but after 19 long hours it was finished.
World’s Longest Rope Climb | 8,848m
7am, April 22nd 2016 and I’m standing in Ashdown Forest, England. Found in south England it’s an ancient area of tranquil open heath-land that occupies the highest sandy ridge-top of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 30 miles south of London the scenery is stunning! But I can’t enjoy any of that right now, all because for the next 20 hours I will be climbing a 20m rope (repeatedly) until I’d climbed the height of Everest (8,848 metres).
Burning through 4 pairs of climbing gloves and 2 pairs of trainers, my body was bruised and battered but warm. The latter being very important since according to scientists from Duke University Medical Centre, USA, who analysed muscle activation during climbing techniques there is an “Abrupt peak in bicep and forearm muscle tension during the pull-up and lowering” phase of the climb. Over 20 hours this “abrupt peak” in tension becomes even more pronounced and amplified so keeping my arms warm, fed and massaged was key to combatting this kind of extreme, localized fatigue.
Thankfully I only needed 1 dryrobe (as the rest of my kit was ripped, worn and destined for the bin) and after a long, sleep-deprived night the World’s Longest Rope Climb was complete before sunrise.
World’s First Tree-Athlon | 1.5km Swim | 40km Cycle | 10km Run | Carrying a 100-lbs tree
My final sports-based charity event was (thankfully) in warmer climates. On the sun-soaked beach of Nevis in the Caribbean, I walked to the start line with a tree attached to my trunks (all under the confused gaze of many competitors) and then proceeded to swim 1.5km, cycle 40km and run 10km with it on my back. It (again) wasn’t fast and I definitely won’t be challenging for a place at the KONA World Championships any time soon, but it was (semi) enjoyable as the crowd cheered and handed me water and fruit on every corner.
But the only reason it was (semi) enjoyable was because of the hours and kilometres I spent in the freezing cold lakes and rivers of England in October training for it. To borrow a quote directly from the dryrobe website, “There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Which is I attacked every cold morning swim with my pre-workout sports drink in one hand and dryrobe in the other. Since (again to borrow another age-old sporting quote) once the Tree-athlon arrived my goal was to “train hard and compete easy”.
Now looking ahead to 2017 and my schedule looks set to make last year look like a “warm up”. Details coming soon…
Ross Edgley is an athlete adventurer, chief sports scientist at THE PROTEIN WORKS™ and considered one of the world’s foremost fitness experts.