Adventurer takes on New Zealand’s original adventure race
Never one to shy away from a challenge, world-renowned mountaineer, adventurer and conservationist Holly Budge has her sights set firmly on the Kathmandu Coast to Coast.
Budge was the first woman to skydive off Mt Everest, to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and raise charitable funds for her charity, How Many Elephants. She founded the charity six years ago while she was studying for a Masters in Sustainable Design.
The charity’s mission is to stop the poaching of African elephants for ivory.
Budge is based in Franz Josef, a place she credits with providing the best possible training environment for the Coast to Coast.
“I’ve totally thrown myself into this and I’m very fortunate living in Franz, being able to get out on the kayak three to four times a week has been great.”
Budge says the training for the Coast to Coast has been a different type of endurance than she’s used to despite having scaled the highest and most technical mountains in the world and having a long career as a skydiver and filmer.
“Everest, for example, is a 60-day expedition, and when I did that, I’d had a few mountains under my belt so I knew what to expect. It’s a long slog, but you’re able to ease into it.
“The Coast to Coast is tough from the very beginning, where mountaineering is slow and methodical the Coast to Coast is going to be a full on two days and it’s going to hurt.”
However, Budge is confident her mental toughness will kick in when her body starts to tire.
“I’m always advocating in my talks, when you think you’re done you’re actually only at 75 percent.
“It’s being able to rationalize, when your body is screaming you need to listen to that part of your brain that says keep going.”
It’s this perseverance and desire to push out of her comfort zone which is helping to drive Budge, even in her most difficult of the three disciplines.
A past scare in a whitewater rafting incident some years back has left Budge with an apprehension of fast-moving water.
“It was about 20 years ago, we got flipped out of the raft and I became trapped underneath it. The instructor had told me if this happens to find the air pocket. When I found the air pocket it was so tiny and I just couldn’t breathe, suffering from asthma as well I really panicked.”
Despite this, Budge says she has been enjoying learning how to kayak and gaining new skills and confidence. She’s gained her grade 2 and has spent some time on the Waimakariri River already.
“This is definitely another adventure for me, I’m coming into it from ground zero. I’d never been on a road bike and the furthest I had ever run was 15km – I’m not a natural runner.
“I feel confident I can transfer the skills I’ve learnt in other extreme challenges to give me the persistence and sheer dogged determination I will need to pull this off. My motto is – think big, dream bigger.”
Budge hasn’t ruled out doing the Coast to Coast again – all going well she wouldn’t mind having a crack at the longest day.
“People have said to me once you have done the Coast to Coast you’re hooked.”