We recently asked you to ‘Share Your Adventure‘ with us and were lucky enough to hear from Dan. Dan is an outdoor enthusiast who, as he says, “loves moving quickly in the mountains”. He’s just returned from a three month trip to some of Europe’s most legendary (and beautiful!) mountains to compete in a number of sky and trail running races. After a major set back, this trip didn’t exactly go to plan, but was still an adventure he’ll “never forget”.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have any of our high performance thermal layers with him this time around, but as he’s earnt himself a $50 ioVoucher for sharing this story with us, he’ll no doubt be taking ioMerino with him on his next adventure! If you’d like to share your adventure with us and earn a $50 ioVoucher, click here for more info, otherwise read on!

Written by Dan Kwong.

“I just came back from a three month trip overseas. I was there to do some skyrunning races, as well as explore and enjoy the mountains. My first stop was in Livigno, Italy. I deliberately arrived there a few weeks before the Livigno Skymarathon in order to train and acclimatise.

I was camping there, when on the third night I was attacked and bitten by a fox (yes you read correctly, it was a fox that, unfortunately for me, was very aggressive and particularly hungry). This involved me going to the local clinic for immediate treatment, traveling to other towns for the necessary vaccinations and medical facilities, and generally having to deviate from my original plans. Eventually I did make it for the race, but with minimal training and a persistent achilles tendon issue, I decided to DNF  (did not finish) for the first time ever. It was a really difficult decision, and after the race, it was a really depressing and painful moment for me, more emotionally than anything else, given that (Sky)running is a big part of my life and it really means a lot to me.

Torn up tent, beware of the hungry fox!

I decided to withdraw from the Eiger Ultra Trail E101 also a couple of days later, as there was simply no way I was going to be ready, either physically or mentally, for such a big race in only three weeks. All of a sudden my plans were going out the window and I was wondering whether it was worth coming back home earlier than planned. However, after some reflection and thinking, I decided to stay and salvage what I could from the time I had left. What helped me most was going back to the original reason why I decided to take up these adventures. It wasn’t for results or medals or even racing, but simply to be in nature and experience all that nature could teach me. And so I decided to do that, spending time in Grindelwald, Switzerland (even though I wasn’t participating in the Eiger Ultra Trail) and simply just being in nature. I could still walk despite my achilles issue, and for me that was good enough if it meant I could enjoy some of the most beautiful and spectacular mountains I have ever seen in my life.

The view from the campsite – facing the Eiger.

I continued to get outside as much as possible, work on my recovery and used the swimming pool in town to help with general rehabilitation. However, most memorable was simply being with people who also shared a very similar passion for the mountains and nature. It really inspired me to continue working on my recovery, and ultimately never lose sight of why I love to run – especially in the mountains. After Grindelwald, my recovery was coming along a lot quicker than planned. I then spent four weeks camping in Arolla, Switzerland. While I had not originally planned to stay there for so long, the simplicity of the place (i.e. pure nature, very little commercialisation or human impact) and the passion of the people for the outdoors just made me want to stay longer and longer.

Day by day, week by week, I was able to move quicker, and for longer, and eventually I was able to return to my ‘normal’ running schedule. Every day really was a gift, as I looked to simply go as long and as high as I possibly could, exploring as much as I could more both the natural surroundings as well as my own limits, all this with only my running shoes and the clothes on my body.

While incredibly sad to leave Arolla, I was looking forward to the challenges ahead, starting with the famous Sierre Zinal race. To be on the starting line with the other people was a massive victory for me, especially considering where I was psychologically and physically after the DNF in Livigno. I was happy with how I performed in the race, but to experience ‘le course des cinq 4000’ and the incredible views that come with it was a real privilege and something I’ll never forget.

Looking up at the Mattehorn before Mattehorn Ultraks race.

The following week, I decided to put a lot of faith in my body’s ability to recover, as I started the Matterhorn Ultraks 46km. While there was still a little pain from the previous race, I surprised even myself by putting in a decent performance and completing the race successfully. It was just spectacular and incredibly scenic on the course, and this made every bit of effort and pain worth it. The last remaining days were spent in the Norwegian mountains, where even bad weather couldn’t stop me from wanting to go outside and explore my natural surroundings (no such thing as bad weather anyways, only bad clothing!).

While this trip went much differently than I had imagined, especially the difficult moments taught me an immense amount about myself, as well as approaching each day as it comes. Setbacks are natural, but I learned a lot about reacting in the right way and just focusing on ‘ici et maintenant’ (here and now), rather than burdening myself with the thousands of other things I can’t control. It was a trip I’ll never forget, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else in the world”.

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