From couch to 250K - Racing the Planet

From couch to 250K - Racing the Planet

This is NOT a traditional blog post where we talk about the latest technology, what should I include in my MVP, or how to get your idea into the users hands in just 3 weeks. No…This is a post for those of us who do not believe in ourselves.

Paul Bird
0 min read
February 22, 2022

About 3 months ago, we sponsored a team of three very normal yet amazingly inspiring individuals, who, with only 13 months training, took part in one of the toughest races in the world (Racing the Planet). Trekking across 250km of the Namib desert, Namibia, over 7 days, they carried all their food, drink and bedding all the way to the finish line, enduring temperatures up to 48˚C.

The team was made up of Bronwynne Bird (Wife of Paul Bird, Director at Elixel) - A data analyst and mum of a two year old; Amelia Henning - The top Director of Photography in South Africa, who has worked on Hollywood films with Julia Roberts and George Clooney; and Cobus Oosthuizen (Ph.D) - Founder of LifeXchange and neurolinguistic expert.

Did I mention that only Cobus has ever done a race like this before? For Amelia and Bronwynne, this was their first time running since their youth (a long time ago!).

Setting the scene - how did it all Start?

During the pandemic, in July of 2020, a company by the name of LifeXchange hosted a course around helping people to lose weight. As part of this course, individuals were asked to come up with project ideas that were focused around their vision and goals of who they wanted to be.

For Bronwynne, Cobus and Amelia, they chose the challenge to run across a burning desert (for some reason)… Where a challenge like this seems impossible, these three believed that through determination and mental prep that this would be a race they could finish! And they did!

We interviewed one of the team members - Bronwynne Bird - who shared some insight into their training and a useful tip for those of you who find doubts get in the way of your goals.

Firstly - Why oh why did you decide to take on this challenge?

“Simply put - To prove to myself and to everybody out there who doesn't believe in themselves, that they can dive into the deep end, grab hold of their insane potential and reach any goal they want, even if it defies all odds.”

But a journey from your couch to 250km in just over 1 year is surely impossible? Let alone through a desert, carrying all your own food?

“It's possible! And with very limited physical training that would make scientists cry... Our team focussed our training on mental preparation. Thinking about who we wanted to be in the desert and becoming the embodiment of that image. For example - I am someone who overcomes ANY obstacle thrown my way.”

It can’t have been easy, what were your biggest challenges?

“For me, this would have to be meniere’s disease. To summarise, this is a disease of the inner ear that causes hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness to list just a few of the symptoms... and is typically triggered by salt imbalance. I was diagnosed at around 20yrs old and it's held me back for the last decade. If I’m too hot - dizziness, exercise too much - dizziness, don’t get enough sleep - dizziness, dehydration - dizziness…. You get the picture. So working through my beliefs that I could manage my disease and make it through the desert was one of my proudest obstacles that I overcame and it will never hold me back again. Of course, COVID was another challenge with travel being uncertain. To be honest, for the whole team, there were so many obstacles to overcome in the 13 months just getting to the race that the race itself was almost easier!”

What would your number 1 tip be for someone who wants to get unstuck and achieve their goals?

“This would definitely be to recognise that we are our own worst critics and that what we say/think to ourselves influences every single action we take. So, when you hear the negative or debilitating thought in your brain such as ‘there’s just not enough time’ or ‘I could never do that’, STOP and think this instead:

  • ’That is NOT like me’
  • ’THIS is me’ and then picture it, describe it, FEEL it
  • ‘Next time, I will…’

Because let’s face it, there are 1440 minutes each day and it takes less than 1 of those to start changing that negative thinking pattern, feeling what it's like to have enough time, visualising what it looks like to succeed and then grabbing hold of that, believing it and you’ll be living it before you know it.”

Bronwynne and her team completed the race, strong and injury free (except for a few blisters and maybe a missing toenail or two…). They were the only group of people to enter as a team with Bronwynne being the only British woman, Amelia the only South African woman and Cobus the only South African man.

This story is our gift to you, to inspire and remind you that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and that through collaboration, being curious and brave, what once was just an idea, can be brought to life. Here’s to another year of working with all of you inspiring people - creating meaningful interactions.

You can watch the teams inspiring journey here:


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