China

September 26, 2018
Dougal Allan

When I reflect, not just on my latest trip to China, but back over the 30-odd times I have visited this part of the world in the past decade, I realise I have China to thank for so many teachings. While us Westerners like to complain about the food (oily, spicy, dodgy), the air quality (smoky, smelly, smoggy) the chaos (people, cars, animals, buildings everywhere!) and the expanse (it seems there are an infinite number of cities with infinite populations spread across an infinite land mass), there is so much to envy about China.

I never feel unsafe. Unlike a certain other self-proclaimed world ‘superpower’, the Chinese seem to live much more harmoniously (i.e. do not shoot each other on an hourly basis). I have started to read up a bit on Confucianism and it helps explain a lot about the Chinese belief in an innate human moral compass. Simple but effective. Chinese people will go out of their way to help you and will often apologise (in English) for their poor English (never mind I have never made the effort to learn more than a handful of words in the decade I have been visiting). They are the most compassionate people I have met.

Back to the racing. This trip involved 3x adventure races, all done in the same combo of Sam Clark, Simone, Marcel and me. We hadn’t raced in this exact combo before and fetching 3x second placings must be considered a success. Although I am a very competitive person and coming second to me means we were beaten, so we have room to improve. Sam had raced a lot leading in and it probably showed, but next time it could be me that slows up a bit, so as always, the focus was on extracting the best out of ourselves as a team of four.

Somewhere along one of the bike stages Marcel hit a chicken. The little kamikaze sprinted out in front of him and Marcel had nowhere to put his front wheel other than across the chickens scattering feet. Fortunately, it seemed to carry on with a fright but OK. I will never forget the look on Marcel’s (a vegetarian) face. Complete devastation. He has a big heart.

We finished one of the days in a township next to a reservoir. It was hot and humid, and I wandered off to buy some noodles to satisfy my salt cravings. While I sat on the street waiting for a lady to boil the water for my noodles I spotted an elderly man walking along and picking up plastic water bottles from the street. Any that still had water in them were quickly swallowed by the guy who was obviously thirsty but also collecting the empties presumably to recycle in return for some sort of cash incentive. He sat, hot and exhausted under the shade of a tree near where I was sitting. We had just finished 2ndand picked up a team bonus that day of USD$2000. I got up and walked over to him and passed him 50 yuan (approx. NZ$10). He looked like he was about to shed tears and simply bowed his head with hands clutched together to gesture his thanks. It was a nice connection between two very different walks of life and I spent the rest of the day reflecting on what his life story must have been to that point. What those wrinkly eyes and weathered hands had experienced in their own lifetime.

The racing itself was hard and on the most part very enjoyable. We were particularly strong in kayaks and on bikes. Running is where we will need to improve ourselves if we want a realistic chance of winning the next race in Wengan (also China) in a few weeks time. On a personal note, I was pleased with my performances. Amazingly my body pulled up better than before the racing had started. I use an NZ blackcurrant supplement called CurraNZ which has an ever expanding list of benefits but one of its most relevant to me is the drastic improvements in blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles. For me it has been a complete game-changer in terms of endurance performance and subsequent recovery (proven to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness/DOMs). I backed up day after day and felt stronger as I went. If you want to check out CurraNZ and see if you can benefit, be sure to use promo code ALLAN for a 25% discount code online.

I am writing this from an aeroplane bound for home and my family. Nearly three weeks away is not easy and while I consider myself lucky to do this stuff for a living, I do miss my troops. Amy, Flynn, Tilly and I are a tight team, so I am excited to get back to them and check in on progress at the section in Lake Hawea where the Landmark Homes team have been busy. The frames are up and roof about to go on (in fact it may already be on as I type!). Cannot wait to see how things have progressed during my time away.

Life is good.