Thursday, 20 January 2011

Thursday's Thought: Competitive Adventure

Thursday's from now on are going to be Thursday's Thoughts. I've written posts on my thoughts before; these posts will be on issues in the adventure world that may be controversial, widely agreed upon or not even known about! If there are any issues you think I might be interested in writing about please get in contact, Enjoy! Now for today's thoughts: Competitive Adventure

I've always thought of adventure and exploration as a noble undertaking; historically it has been carried out to further scientific and geographical knowledge, discovering the new world and going where no man had been before. In today's world it seems that a lot of adventure is undertaken merely to break records, to be the first or to beat someone else there. Jordan Romero is a 13 year old kid who got dragged up a few mountains to say he was the youngest to have summated - what's the point? Other people are looking for records to break; crawling backwards to the South Pole whilst reading Harry Potter - ohhh well done! (Sarcasm!); again, why? Basically I question why this kind of competition has to be brought in to the world of adventure and exploration.

It seems that everyone has an ulterior motive, they want to beat someone rather than help someone. My post a while ago on Summit Fever looked at how people want to race to the summit of Everest instead of saving a person's life! I can understand pushing yourself to a notable first summit or being the first to really achieve something but to go looking for stupid challenges to get in the Guinness World Record Book is just silly and self-promoting. Instead why not find an unclimbed peak, an unexplored area or just be content with repeating a great feat such as climbing Everest or K2 or skiing to either of the poles, rowing an ocean, sailing round the world - don't go out with the intention of chopping off three toes to say you were the first 7 toed man to walk England backwards (for example!)!

Competitiveness is always necessary in sport and in life in general but the line can be pushed too much. Everyone has their reasons for their quest for adventure and exploration but when a reason for doing something becomes fame and a name in book then there's something wrong in my opinion. Achieve something great rather than just something previously unachieved; often the two can go hand in hand but often not. When someone accomplishes something never done before and has really put themselves through the thick of it to complete something previously thought impossible the reception is likely to be far better, as well as the feeling of contentment, than tackling an adventure JUST because it hasn't been done. Go out and explore for the reasons for adventure seeking, exploration, furthering yourself and your skills, helping others and seeing the world - don't go outside with dollar signs and fame in your eyes.

You don't have to break a world record, be the first or race to something to be a great person or even an adventurer; do whatever you do with pride, with determination and you will get it - if you do it enough then you'll get the respect you'd deserve. Help others to their goals, enjoy the outdoors and Exceed Possibility without thinking of the fame and money you might receive. Competition is good until danger shows its ugly head and the question of 'what's the point?' starts rolling around in your mind - at this point take a pause, think and do the right thing! Stay pure to the history of adventure and exploration; pushing the boundaries is what it's all about - push them to beyond a joke and you'll look back and think why???

My views might be warped and nonsense, or you might agree! Everyone has their motives I know, but historically adventurers have been so noble and i'd love to see it remain that way, even if I stand on an inexperience base to say these things! I'd love to know people's thoughts so please comment! Enjoy!


  1. Good artical Tom, you make some good points. I have to say that the non-competetive nature of adventurous pursuits is something that has a massive appeal for me. I spent my late teens and early twenties chasing a career as a professional rugby player, alas fate conspired against me (not to mention a lack of talent!).I then changed my career path and began working in ourdoor education and never looked back. It was refreshing not to be competing with anyone anymore, only yourself. It really is the taking parts that counts- cliched but true! I've met climbers or surfers or paddlers countless time who tell me about what they do followed by "but I'm not very good" and for me it's not about being good, it's about getting out there and getting involved. Just giving it a go.

  2. Thanks for commenting! I think climbers are a modest lot - they're unlikely to shout from the rooftops even if they have climbed the North Face of the Eiger or ran up Everest. I love competitiveness; i've played a lot of competitive cricket and rugby but I don't think the same sort of competition needs to be present in the outdoors and adventure world.



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