By ALEX SAIFITI.
The Beginners Guide to Adventure Sport is your third book. What was the key message you wanted to get across in it?
It’s getting harder and harder for beginners to sample adventure sport because there are so many rules and regulations about what we’re allowed to do and what we can’t do… I thought, if the barriers or the entry level to get into these sports is harder, then I will do what I can to make it easier, by showing people – here are the simple steps you can do.
My main motivation is to provide a pathway through the maze that is now being created by rules and regulations. Inspire people to give it a go. By showing people how to avoid some of the basic mistakes I’ve made, I’m enabling them to go a bit further than I did.
What do you think is key to becoming a successful adventure athlete?
To be good at adventure sport, you need to think of the ‘what ifs’ and prepare to be able to solve those types of things if they happen. Or even better, to prevent them.
One thing that makes adventure so very, very satisfying and compelling is knowing that it’s going be a challenge. Getting fit and learning those skills is going to be difficult at times, and sometimes it’s going to be hard to get out of bed early to go training or it’s going to be really hard to push through the exhaustion when you’re out in the bush somewhere, but what drives us is the knowledge that we will have improved for having done that.
To all of those young ones sitting on the couch, playing Xbox and PlayStation, if you could speak to them, what would you say?
That’s a challenging one. The thing is there’s a lot of peer pressure. The youth of today (I hate to say that, it makes me sound old, but…) they are very much influenced by their peers. And a lot of them don’t even know that this wonderful other world exists out there. You don’t appreciate this until you’ve travelled the world and you realise, actually we do have a lot of easy access to wonderful rivers, mountains and forests in New Zealand, that other countries don’t have.
What I can say to those trapped in the PlayStation world is that you don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve tried it. I think that it’s really important that you get out there and give something a go. But with adventure, it’s not something that gives instant gratification, like switching on a computer or a PlayStation console. Adventure is something you have to gain skills for and it takes a bit of time. It’s not something that happens the first trip you go out there.
The anticipation of doing something is often a lot harder than the actual doing. You imagine things being hard but they’re actually not that hard. Just be curious – you don’t know until you’ve tried it. It’s a very normal and natural thing to go out and get fit and once you’ve gone out and tried it, you realise how good it is.
You’ve achieved so much in your life so far; are there still things you want to do, points to tick off on your bucket list?
There are lots of things that I still want to do and writing this book and seeing that I can make a difference to the next generation of adventurers is one of those things on the bucket list. I won’t be satisfied until I see or hear people come to me and say: “Hey, that was a good book, I’ve tried some of the things and it works.” You know? That’s one of my goals for this book.
In NZ there is such easy access to parks, forests, rivers, oceans, that’s there’s no excuse really not to get out and try some of these things and that’s what the book’s about. It’s giving you a bit of a guide on how to try them.