experience

250km through Patagonia

Why would I fly to the other side of the planet and run 250km through the mountains of Patagonia? Carrying all my supplies for a week. Sharing a tent with six others. No showers and cherishing freeze dried meals to get me through seven long days. That ‘why’ question will never cease!

Actually, there’s a pretty easy answer but before I go there, you need to understand the bigger picture. There are thousands and thousands of people who run ultra’s, which is technically anything longer than a marathon. A small proportion are well known pro athletes, who run record times and make the news but the remaining 99% are normal people. The likes of you and me… people with jobs, partners, kids and commitments yet they have a deep rooted desire to test their physical and mental limits. Despite already juggling a full set of balls, they (we) still find the time to train for and experience these extraordinary races.

Back to the why question. What drives me to sign up, not for the first time, for such an epic event? I simply love being out there. Out in nature, out on the trails. There’s something so profoundly powerful about feeling so insignificant amongst the force of nature. In the true wilderness, there’s no place for a fancy title, a fat bank account or a big ego. You’re truly alone, exposed to all elements, completely vulnerable.

Everyone who takes part has the opportunity to enjoy and embrace what lies around them. When it rains, everyone gets cold and wet. Everyone gets blisters and they all hurt. Regardless of place or power, every single participant must start with a positive attitude and a curious mindset, open to tackling whatever challenges come their way. This sense of adventure moves me, makes me feel alive.

This topic came up over a campfire conversation recently, about how if you want it enough, you can always make time to train, regardless of your schedule. Early rises or a quick blast in between meetings… it’s always doable and is so damn rewarding. The motivation to get out there is that big race on the horizon, the one you’ve committed to and has an ever closer start date. There’s a certain anxiety that comes with signing up for a big race, an anxiety that will get you up at 4am to train your arse off.

I’m currently editing a film project with triathlete, David Labouchere. He talks about his training routine and how much energy he gets from his early morning workouts. He clearly loves being part of that elite pack of dedicated athletes who complete their 90km bike rides before the sun has even risen. I can’t wait to share his story…

Another thing I love about the ultra scene is the fascinating mix of people. I probably have my best conversations on the trails. At the Patagonia race, we started with 300 athletes, from all walks of life, from all four corners… 55 nationalities covered, from CEO’s to aspiring students. A tiny handful start with the intention of a place on the podium but everyone else just wants to experience and complete the journey. Beyond the element of competition, is the notion of all being in it together, of sharing and supporting. If a fellow runner can help you they will. When the chips are down, they’ll bring you back. Every participant has dark moments… I remember one of mine, around 60km into the 75km day. I’d let my food intake slip a bit, my feet were on fire and I was just loosing the plot. Luckily, I ran into my Canadian tent mate, Chris, who was his usual joyful jolly self. He took one look at me and just laughed… that was all I needed. We joined forces after that and completed the remaining mileage together. Time to chat, embrace the challenge and share what little food we had.

Crossing that finish line on day seven at the base of the Tronador Glacier was an experience to remember. We all find the energy to run that last stretch, even if that means just the last few meters. And as I received my big, shiny medal, the thoughts in my head were how it wasn’t all that bad. Seriously?! The truth is, our minds have an incredible capacity to forget the hardships we go through… in races and in life…

Wk.

 

 

Adventure HQ Photoshoot

That million-dollar question… how long will it take to shoot? Rock climbing, mountain biking, skate boarding, road cycling, kayaking, surf skiing, camping, trail running, yoga, fat biking, diving, fishing, BBQ… and the shoot list didn’t end there. I looked at the client and replied with “10 days”. They looked back, grinned and responded with “how about three days?” I laughed… and then we settled on five.

Five days… and I still don’t know how we fitted it all in. Days were jam-packed with crew call times at 3 or 4am making for 16hrs day. Pre-production was key, with extensive location scouting and setting up the shots at the best outdoor locations in both the UAE and Musandam in Oman. We pretty much crafted a minute by minute production schedule, making the best of the sweet early morning and afternoon light. I can’t remember how many brands were represented with hundreds of items and dozens of athletes / talent. But most importantly we all an amazing time in the great outdoors.

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Wouter Kingma blog for Adventure HQ shoot 29

Why do I love shooting adventure sports? Because we’re all in it for memories, all keen to create stories. And stories are so powerful. It’s a great opportunity to work with amazing athletes and adventurers. And its a grand excuse to head out into the mountains, live it to the max and enjoy the great outdoors. For me, it’s pretty much second nature but for some of the crew it meant first-time camping or getting high up in the mountains. Seeing their enormous grins during those long days was super rewarding.

I created a mood board with images I’ve shot in the past or collected from adventure brands for years, just as a reference to dig into when stuck on site or to explain individual concepts to the team. In an ideal world, you’d shoot a real and raw adventure over a ten day expedition where gear, people and clothing naturally gets worn in and roughened up. Instead, in this shoot we sped up time by rolling in the sand and using other dirty tricks. At the end of the day, the images had to look genuine, unstaged, real and inspiring. I know that’s what we delivered.

Wouter Kingma blog for Adventure HQ shoot 30
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Have a look at my main site where you’ll find the full image gallery and seriously check out the behind the scenes video on the top of this post, which besides the production side of things also shows the adventures YOU can have in our region. We do live in an amazing playground with unlimited access.

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A big shout out to the crew at Absolute Adventure for keeping us out of trouble and being our partner in ground support. Anyone who gets inspired and is keen to venture off should contact these guys. They’ll take you outdoors, look after you and give you an amazing adventure experience.

I’ve got a few amazing brands that support me with the work I do. Many thanks to Goal Zero for keeping us powered up, fstop gear for their fab pack to haul our gear around the mountains, Aquatec for keeping my camera bombproof dry in the ocean, SanDisk for their fast and uber reliable CF cards and Western Digital for safely storing 100’s of GB’s of data on their HD’s. These are amazing brands to rely on when digging it deep in far away places.

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Finally, thanks to everyone for bringing their energy and making it all happen! When tempted to buy some new outdoor toys and gadgets. Check out the Adventure HQ stores around the UAE… and when you’re there, pick up the new catalogue. I heard it looks really nice…

Wouter Kingma shooting for Adventure HQ-1

Behind the scene image by Kish

Wouter Kingma shooting for Adventure HQ-10

Behind the scene image by Kish

Till the next adventure….

Wk.