TOP 5 TALES FROM MY WADI RUM ADVENTURE
My name is Alex Spencer. A 26 years old Project Manager for SeeTickets.com by day and an endurance athlete by morning, evening and weekends. Be inspired by my tales!
I’ve always been an active person. I was a professional Cricketer for Gloucestershire CCC for 3 years from 18 and I have always enjoyed playing hockey. I knew I had a knack for endurance sports when got over level 15 on the bleep test and also ran a 62 minute 10 mile race at school.
From 20-25 I was content on running in the odd 10km race and playing hockey for St Alban’s. However, when a friend from school organised the Wadi Rum Ultramarathon in Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert, my 2 best friends and I decided to enter. The race entailed 260km in 5 days (or 6 marathons in 5 days). With the biggest distance I had ever done being the previously noted 10 miler I did at school (and I was forced to do that), I had to have a bit of a reality check with distance running. Luckily, I survived Jordan’s desert, and now I am obsessed with all things endurance.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TALES FROM MY WADI RUM ADVENTURE.
1. THE NAKED MILE
As well as taking on this challenge, we wanted to raise money for Alzheimer’s – £20,000 was our aim. When it comes to raising that amount of money, you can either try and aim for lots of little donations (friends, family, public), or smaller amounts of big donations (from corporate companies).
We decided to try and mix it up and incorporate both – corporate and public. For this we created The Naked Mile. We would run our favourite running route (10 km from Southbank to Hyde Park) in nothing but trainers and speedo’s. The speedo’s were branded by a corporate company and for this privilege the company would pay £1,000. We would also take buckets on the run to collect donations from the general public. We did this with FlatClub (now Benivo) being our first sponsor and we managed to raise £1,250; £1,000 from FlatClub/Benivo and £250 from the general public – 6% of our goal ticked off 🙂
It was cold weather, but the thrill of running around London in Speedo’s past 1000s of tourists was second to none!
2.TEAM WORK IS DREAM WORK
Zander and James were the perfect companions for this. You can see from social media outlets at how much fun we had training, preparing and completing this adventure.
Zander has this incredible sense of positivity. When you think that something is going to be difficult, he just comes out with the most optimistic statement. He is one of those friends who could convince you eating a jar of wasps is a good idea. Anything he does, he puts 100% into it and throughout the whole experience this sense of positivity made me want to work harder because of him.
Jimmy is quieter in nature than Zander, but just as influential. When James says he is going to do something, it’s because he knows he wants to do it. He will find a way to achieve. This mental strength is infectious. Just by being next to Jimmy you know you are better off.
Whether or not these 2 took anything from me remains to be known, but I know for sure that if you want to do achieve something, then you need to surround yourself with people who are of the same mindset as you. These two provided me with the best support one could hope for. If they hadn’t been by my side, would I have completed? Thankfully, i’ll never know!
3. SPEECHES, FILMS & TEARS
As a 3 we were very good at keeping ourselves occupied. Myself and Zander are extreme chatter boxes – we love a natter. However, every now and then you would need to just put your head down and crank out some miles in silence. Sometimes, we would put Spotify on loudspeaker. Our favourite listening, however, wasn’t music, but inspirational speeches from movies. The one in particular was a compilation from movies like Remember the Titans, Rocky, Glory Road, We Are Marshall and Friday Night Lights. Hearing all of these speeches (many from true stories) tweaked a few emotions in us and all 3 of us at some point were further dehydrating ourselves from crying.
3 grown ups crying whilst running was a sight to behold! We were obviously all fighting our personal demons and the relief crying brought, for me, was so liberating.
Since the WRU I often find myself crying a lot more during movies and TV series – the latest episode being in the country music drama Nashville.
Listen to our favourite speech compilation here:
4. CAMEL BAK
The Wadi Rum’s scenery, is second to none. If you have watched films like The Prince of Persia, Star Wars or The Martian then you will have some sort of visual – the Wadi Rum was used as filming locations for all of these films.
On the 4th day of the run we were running up an open plain (see pic to the above), probably about 20km in and another 30km to go when all of a sudden to our left was a camel. This camel was running with us about 50 metres to our left at the very same pace.
This was such a surreal moment. One of the most desert adapted animals running next to you in its natural habitat.
5. WADI RUM RACERS
Doing an adventure with your mates is awesome. But meeting more friends during the adventure is more awesome. After setting off at around 6am every day, we would often be back by 2-4pm and then all we had to do was eat as many calories as possible and chat about the days expeditions.
During this time the 3 of us (myself, Zander and Jimmy) obviously bonded further. But it was also a great opportunity to get to know competitors Dave Ratcliffe and Fergus Scholes along with Jamie Sparks, race director, who I knew from school. We would sit around camp, help each other stretch, share food and chat. All local to London, we have gone on to create the Wadi Rum Racers, a little adventure group. We meet a few times a week for short intense exercise and then on the weekends for longer things. We are all quite career focussed, so it is a great little community of young professionals who work hard and then play harder. This would never exist if it wasn’t for the WRU!
Being a weekend warrior before the WRU I had perceived limits. Half marathons and marathons seemed to me to be the limit of the body’s capabilities. From the moment I entered the WRU I had to change these perceptions – and wow did they! I have taken this into my working and social life. It’s not that the word “cannot” no longer exists to me, it is more if I think something isn’t possible, I will still give it a good go.
My mental resilience to achieve arduous tasks has become a lot better – not perfect, but better. Of course, I still have the days where I don’t want to train, eat right or create a presentation for work – however, I now understand the mentality I have to get myself in to achieve things. Be it sport, music, work or social life, if you want to try and do something new or increase your goals do it! I cannot stress enough how you will surprise yourself.