Returning to the Pioneer New Zealand – December 1-6, Queenstown
In just one week, Hap Farber and I will be leaving on our next big adventure, The Pioneer New Zealand. We’ll be racing in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, around Queenstown in a six-day mountain bike stage race. The race covers 433km (269 miles) with 12,540m (41,141 feet) of climbing and promises to be incredible, as events like that can only do.
There are many reasons we do an event like this, but I have been thinking about a few as it all comes together in our final week planning and preparing for the race.
It’s about friendship. I’ve known Hap since 2013, when we met through Team PHenomenal Hope and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, and given we both have this drive to do insane events. His first event with Team PH and PHA was skiing 101,376 vertical feet in eight hours and raising more than $4000 when we were preparing for RAAM 2014. Prior to that he ran across the country as part of a 10-person relay team. He has numerous Boston Marathons, triathlons, and insane bike events in his race history, and is just an incredible athlete.
We met through this idea of using our love of sport as a lightning rod to raise awareness for pulmonary hypertension, and have worked together on Team PHenomenal Hope as athletes and board members since then, racing to make a difference. When you do events like this, they expose everything about you in a way, and when you’re in it with a partner, you get to know each other during these challenges in ways people who are only in ultra crew vans or racing as race partners really see. And with that comes this friendship I truly treasure, both on and off the bike.
When we went to New Zealand in 2016, we were welcomed by incredible Kiwi hospitality of local patients who live with pulmonary hypertension, and one of the things I’ve been most looking forward to is seeing our friends again. These are some of the most genuine people I’d ever met. We’ll be stopping off in Auckland, then visiting Wellington, and after the race in Queenstown, we will fly back through Christchurch to see old friends and PHriends. And, well, I just can’t wait.
It’s about patients. When we race on Team PHenomenal Hope, we tell stories through our racing, not only telling people what is pulmonary hypertension, but who is pulmonary hypertension, and our trip here will be no different. As PH physicians we often carry those who we care for in our hearts, outside of the clinic. This time we will be racing in honor of our New Zealand PHriends and keep them close in our hearts. We get to choose our race, and face these beautiful mountains and trails, but for people living with PH, they don’t get to choose the mountains they have to climb. We carry that in our hearts everyday we ride our bikes.
It’s about adventure. There is nothing like these multi-day expedition races to experience a countryside that is so vast and gorgeous, focus on racing one’s bike from the starting line to the finish line each day, and then recover back at camp, sleeping in a tent under the stars before the next day when we get to do it all over again. The very nature of a race like this means it won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it. There will be adventure and stories to tell from each day, and, like the Breck Epic and other races from this summer, we’ll be sharing those through our GoPro Quik videos during the race as internet connections allow.
It’s about the joy of the ride. We love riding our bikes. And for the duration of The Pioneer we get to just enjoy the amazing course, feeling the wind in our faces, and pedaling for hours. There is a pure joy that comes from riding bikes with friends. It really is as simple as that.
It’s about hope. At the end of the day we’re racing to make a difference in the lives of PH patients. Through our fundraising we hope to be able to support a huge part of the next research award, and support patient-focused grants to help patients with unmet needs, and we appreciate the support of our friends and members of the community who join us in the hope and belief in that one day there will be a cure for pulmonary hypertension.
Will you join us in our race to make a difference? You can support us in this cause by donating to our fundraising efforts and helping Team PH get to the real finish line, that of a cure for PH.