Peter Sherwood looks into Discovery Bay’s Team FEAR event – for kids from eight to 18 – and takes it personally.
Thirty-five years struggling in the Himalayas and up other high and remote hills, and I created my own FEAR acronym: Forget ‘Eroics And Retreat. From time to time, it seemed to work: When in doubt, get the hell out.
As far as I can tell adventure racing at some point involves a tussle with gravity, an aspect of the physical with which I am sadly familiar. By way of an example, I’ll take you back to a balcony-based incident that befell me in 2015.
Returning home with an injured leg after a hike in Europe, I had the offending limb scanned and found the problem resolved. Overjoyed, I hurried home, removed my shoes, poured myself a glass of Chilean red and ventured to the balcony to celebrate. But the slippery wet tiles had other plans. Feet flew skyward and I landed like a sack of ripe mangoes with broken glass, blood, vino and smashed ankle sloshing around on the rainy deck. The irony was not lost – nearly 20 treks in Nepal and not so much as a blistered toe.
Thrills ‘n’ spills
Racing for eight-year-olds is new to me. My own nefarious background at that age was limited to hurling rocks through someone’s window, and being chased up the street. Asked to comment on DB’s Team FEAR event, which sees some 700 kids adventure racing across the resort every November, I decided to examine each challenge separately.
Mountain biking: Having staggered up (and luckily also down) a few mountains, I am unable to recall a time when a bicycle would have been an asset.
Swimming: My son is a super swimmer and swim coach, while I suffer mightily from a top half that sort of floats and a bottom 50% that refuses to. My son in the water is often compared to a dolphin. He likens me to a giraffe. That’s enough on that subject.
Pier jumping: A precursor to swimming, I assume, and not a sport in which I have recently participated. More than a few exasperated editors have suggested I ‘take a long walk off a short pier’, clearly a kind and generous invitation to take up this pastime.
Canoeing: Here, I boast genuine experience gained from a month in the jungle with Outward Bound at age 18. Our final test was canoeing up river for hours and then hiking back to camp over some days. I was responsible for the food, which, on landing, we discovered I had left behind. If my companions found that amusing, they did a superb job of hiding it. A hungry day found us in an abandoned carrot farm where we loaded up. Two days later we emerged from the forest looking like Donald Trump.
Each year, spaces for Team FEAR sell out within a couple of hours, which says a lot about the youth of today. All these disciplines in one day bring to mind the words of P.Z. Pearce: “If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.”
Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 17 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and he has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.