To the Scared Abseiler – a message from your tutor!

by Bree Arnott

If you come on a Whenua Iti Outdoors programmes you will find yourself facing all sorts of challenges and each person on the same programme faces a different set of challenges – some physical, some mental, some emotional – sometimes all 3! One of our tutors, Kathryn, has written a letter to everyone facing a challenge to let you know the WIO tutors understand what you are going through because they put themselves through big challenges too – and how with a bit of hard work and persistence, you can come out the other end with a big smile on your dial! The title “The Scared Abseiler” refers to anyone facing a challenge – we wonder what yours would be?

To the scared abseiler

I was there tears and all; my abseil was the Longest Day Coast to Coast event, 2019.

Putting on the harnesses, leaning out backwards and letting the rope slide through your hand is a very scary process. You get briefed, get to practice, ask questions, and know that everyone will talk about this for the rest of the year. However, you are still scared, do not be ashamed.

It is OK to stand on top of the abseil and be terrified. Don’t be ashamed to be scared as you lean out of your comfort zone, down the rock face. You have been dreading or dreaming about this. Just getting to the start is an achievement even and then if you choose to just hang on the rope, it will show you that it is not that bad, a lot can be learnt, trust me.

My abseil was walking down to the start line at Kumara Beach, West Coast, to the start of the Coast to Coast, with tears of worry streaming down my face – a very unusual feeling. As an instructor, it is our job to encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, so I told myself that this was a great place to be for the day. There were months of training, numerous course recces and years of dreaming of this day but for some reason I was scared. Thankfully it was dark and raining so no one could see my shining cheeks. The tears dissolved when I could see the waves of the West Coast beach. `

The longest day involves a bit of running (3km), cycling (55km), mountain running (33km), cycling (15km), kayaking (67km) and more cycling (70km), without stopping. It really sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday, a lot of fun laid out on a beautiful course where you can pick your level of challenge as the day goes on. The choice in the challenges are selecting your fastest running route, or the harder lines on the kayak. You can push yourself as much as you wish as you’re are in charge of the speed.

My day out was great and also far from perfect. With a good first ride chatting to a good friend and team mate, to the slowest run I had done in a while, topped off with a wake-up swim on the river, and a bike that chose to stay in an easy gear with a much-welcomed tail wind. When you are on the go for 14 hours you can experience the highest of highs and some dark scary lows.

Reaching the water on the east coast meant a lot more than just ‘finishing’, it was awesome. One of the biggest mind games I had played for a long time. Before crossing the finish line, I had planned how my next longest day was going to pan out. Finishing the day feeling as good as I did has given me the motivation to aim higher.

Everyone can all look at what they have done and set goals to improve, getting out there and being challenged is very important to us all. Aim high and live of the learnings, channel all your worry into something good.

To that scared abseiler, we have all been there, and we are right there with you!

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