Richard Parks will compete in three gruelling races this year as he steps up his preparation for his next world first.
Richard will compete in the Yak Attack, the world’s highest mountain bike race in March, the Vietnam Jungle Marathon, voted the world's toughest endurance race by CNN in May/June and finally The Brutal, a double ironman in Wales in September.
These immense physical challenges will form part of Richard’s training for his next world first project, currently known as Project X. Richard’s year of challenges, training, preparation and his world first expedition will form a series of four one-hour films for Channel 5.
“It’s going to be an awesome year!” stated Richard. “To say I am amped is an understatement. I have three big physical and psychological challenges in their own right to undertake which will form vital preparation for my next world first expedition. I am thrilled that Channel 5 will be capturing it all on camera so I can share the journey with everyone.”
He added; “All three events have been chosen to test me in three different areas. The Yak Attack is on the bike, cycling is a big part of my cardiovascular training, I also love riding! The Brutal, which is a double ironman, is an endurance test that I wanted to gauge myself both physically and mentally. And I’ve highlighted the Vietnam Jungle Marathon as a deprivation training test chosen to make me as uncomfortable as physically and mentally possible, performing in an environment I genuinely don’t like! It’s no secret that during my 737 Challenge Carstenz Pyramid was one of the most uncomfortable and brutal legs, in fact I did say that I never wanted to see another jungle again, but that’s the whole reason of challenging myself in that environment, deprivation training is vital. All are well outside my comfort zone and learning some new skills in new disciplines throughout the year will be a lot of fun! It doesn't have to be fun to be fun!”
Richard in the Jungle of West Papua during his 737 Challenge
THE YAK ATTACK
Richard now has just over three weeks to recover fully from his exhausting solo expedition in Antarctica to prepare his body for the heights of the Yak Attack. He will leave the UK around the 21st February to begin acclimatisation in Nepal before starting the race on March 1st.
The Yak Attack, held in Nepal is considered the world’s highest mountain bike race. Taking place in the mighty Himalaya, comprising of 11 stages, covering 400km and with a total altitude gain of over 12,000m this race throws every obstacle under the sun at the adventurous riders daring to take it on. It’s 400km/248 miles of some of the most brutal terrain on earth, from the hot and dusty lowland foothills to the snow covered, oxygen thin, Thorong La pass. Richard and his bike will climb to 5416m/17,769ft, about 400m shy of the height of Mount Kilimanjaro and about the same height as Everest Base Camp.
Mountain bike racing in the Himalayas is unpredictable and unforgiving. There's the altitude - the course peaks at 5416m/17,769ft, where oxygen levels are only 50% of those at sea level. There's the weather – up to 30c over the first four days and then rapidly decreasing to -15c (before wind chill) as the race crosses the Thorong La pass. Then there's the terrain, rough descents, soft sand climbs, streams, suspension bridges, mud, landslides and invariably snow.Richard is currently having intensive physiotherapy to prepare his Antarctica battered body for his first mountain bike race but is raring to go, he stated; “This is a really unique situation I am in at the moment, having such a tight turn around between projects. Physically and mentally I am exhausted having just returned from a tough expedition in Antarctica. However I am super amped about the opportunity to race in the Yak Attack.” “I don’t profess to be a mountain biker, I just love being on the bike - road or dirt. Cycling has played a big part in my life and my training over the last four years and the opportunity to test myself in the Himalayas against seasoned quality mountain bike racers is genuinely exciting to me, it’s my first race! This race was highlighted as one of the stages of development of Project X and has been in the diary for quite some time now.”
BEING PHYSICALLY READY FOR THE YAK
“The challenge I have is such a short turnaround between projects and recovering enough physically, emotionally and mentally to be able to compete. Cardiovascular wise I am in good shape off the back of skiing 9-11 hours a day continuously for over 30 days, however mentally, emotionally and physically I am frazzled. I’m excited and grateful to be working with Nicki Phillips and the guys out of Sport Wales and the University of Glamorgan and having access to state of the art facilities and expert opinion which will give me the very best chance of being in the best shape that I can be. Maybe not 100% but I’ll take 70-80%!”
Richard added; “I doubt that I will carry any acclimatisation from Antarctica in to the Yak so performing at altitude will pose it’s own unique challenges, some old, some new to me, like being on a bike and not in crampons! The race tops out around 5,500m so managing parts of my body that have cold damage will be challenging but will be another valuable knowledge gathering exercise for Project X.”
Richard is still recovering from his recent solo expedition in Antarctica
“I feel pretty mixed at the moment, I am still readjusting from Antarctica and haven’t had time to reflect or process yet. I am a professional athlete, this is what I do and sometimes you just have to pull your socks up and get on with it. Luckily I have a holiday in the sun planned when I get back to keep me sane!”
THE VIETNAM JUNGLE MARATHON
The UVU Jungle Marathon Vietnam was voted the world's toughest endurance race by CNN. Taking place from May 31st – June 9th the marathon is 250km through the dense South East Asian rainforest, 7 days of immense heat and humidity. It comprises 6 stages over 7 days, is a self-sufficient foot race with a surprise undisclosed long stage. The race will take Richard along parts of the Ho Chi Ming Trail, and will even cross the border into Laos for two stages before returning to Vietnam for a finish on the shore. Each stage will have a maximum time for completion and a runner failing to arrive within the allocated stage time may be eliminated from the race.
The Brutal is an extreme triathlon in Wales. Richard will be taking part in the double Brutal, a double ironman, which involves swimming 4.8 miles in Lake Padarn, cycling 224 miles over hills of Snowdonia in darkness before getting back to transition. If you survive the ride, you then begin a 52-mile run that involves more hills, but not just any old hills, you start by climbing up and down Mount Snowdon and end the challenge by completing 8 loops of the rugged lake lap. The race starts on Saturday 21st September 2013.
Find out more about Richard or subscribe to his newletter at www.richardparks.co.uk