A Members' Evening: The World's Extreme Races
Wednesday, 15 March 2006
Hong Kong Fooll Club, Causeway Bay
Drinks 6.30 pm; Lectures 7.30 pm Following the success of our previous event, we are delighted to invite members to another Members' Evening, when three of our distinguished members are giving short lectures on some of the most extreme races in the world. Drinks are served throughout the evening, allowing an informal and fun atmosphere. The races span running or walking across the Gobi and Sahara deserts, 200 km of canoeing, the oldest and longest downhill ski event in the world, all the way to rowing across the Atlantic, all recounted by our own members, Paul Skipworth, Antony Wood and Simon Walpole. 1. Two Deserts and a River by Paul Skipworth In this lecture, Paul speaks of three extraordinary endurance events his experiences of a 250km running race in the Sahara desert, a 250km Gobi march and a 200km nonstop Devises to Westminster canoe race. The Marathon de Sable covers 243km in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, made up of stages of 25, 34, 38, 82, 42, 22km, run over 6 or 7 days equivalent to 5 1/2 regular marathons. In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything they need for the duration in a rucksack, including food, clothes and sleeping bag. Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint. Midday temperatures can reach 120 degrees F, with running on rocky and stony ground, as well as 1520% of the race on sand dunes. The Gobi March is a selfsupported footrace across 250 km of the Gobi Desert in China. The race consists of six stages, lasting 7 days, with distances ranging from 20 to 80km per stage. Competitors are required to be fully selfsupported throughout the event and must carry all their own food, gear and clothing which they need to complete the course. The Gobi March is held annually in honour of three English women explorers, Mildred Cable and Eva and Francesca French, who amazingly crossed the Gobi on several occasions over a hundred years ago. Mildred Cable wrote: "Only a fool crosses the great Gobi without misgivings." Paul did the Gobi in 2005, along with several members of the RGSHK, and speaks about the race, terrain and competitors. Devizes to Westminster, sometimes referred to as "The Canoeist's Everest", is a 200km canoe race which has run every Easter since 1948. Starting at Devizes wharf in the west of England, the route follows the Kennet and Avon canal to Reading, where it joins the Thames. The race continues to Teddington Lock, ending 17 miles later at Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster. Competitors must complete the race whilst also carrying their boats, ranging from lightweight K2s up to heavyweight Kleppers, between 73 different locks. Paul has completed the race in a 100 pound Klepper canoe on three occasions. 2. The Kandahar Inferno Ski Race by Antony Wood In this lecture, Antony speaks of participating in the world's oldest and longest downhill ski race, in which he has completed twice. The annual race was first held in 1928 and is arranged by the prestigious Kandahar Ski Club, named after Field Marshall Earl Roberts of Kandahar, the commander of the relief of Kandahar. The race was invented by Sir Arnold Lunn, the founder of Alpine ski racing, and runs from the summit of the Schilthorn mountain in Murren, Switzerland, to the spectacular Lauterbrunnen valley. The race is of no less than 15.8 km, with a huge vertical drop of some 2,500 metres. The terrain, snow conditions and gradient is so varied along the course that only skiers with a complete technique can compete, an anathema for most Olympicstyle skiers. Winners have mostly been Swiss, British and German, but there are always entrants from some 25 countries. Ski techniques and equipment have so improved that the course record has improved from over an hour in the 1920s to less than 15 minutes presently. Antony has been a member of the Kandahar Ski Club since 1991 and holds the club's Gold Medal. 3. Rowing Across the Atlantic by Simon Walpole In this lecture, Simon Walpole, speaks on one of the world's great endurance events, rowing across the Atlantic. In 2001, Simon took part in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Race, together with his rowing partner, Istvan Hajdu. In a small twoman rowing boat they crossed the Atlantic from Tenerife to Barbados, a journey of some 4,500 miles. During the race, they were unsupported and selfsufficient, eating freezedried food, flapjacks, Swiss chocolate and the occasional minitub of salt and vinegar Pringles. They made drinking water using a solarpowered desalinator and did not see another human for 56 days. Having braved storms, currents, seasickness, exhaustion and sleep deprivation they completed the rowing race in 58 days, 10 hours and 50 minutes. Simon speaks of the challenges and excitements of the race and their ultimate success. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend these lectures, which are HK$50 for Members, HK$100 for Members' guests and HK$150 for others.