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Thoughts on Adventure Racing and Raising Children

Author : Steve Hay

Date Posted : 2018/01/25

[Steve Hay took part in the first Raid Pulse in Quebec back in 2002.  It was his first adventure race and his wife and one year old son Étiène inspired him to reach the finish line where they were waiting to see him.

This year he will race Raid Pulse again, this time with 17 year old Étiène at his side and here he reflects on the life lessons he has learned from adventure racing, particularly when it comes to raising a family.]

In May 2002, I raced my first adventure race and, had my first child Étiène. I started and finished the race with him cheering me on.  After the race, I had some powerful emotions.  They showed me the possibilities of life and how to apply the lessons learned from racing to raising this new precious being born into my world.  This first race, the Raid Pulse, was a metaphor for the way I would lead my life ahead.  I discovered that the challenges I faced as an adventure racer were the ones I needed most in living my life raising a child - we can only truly learn one step at a time.

When I first found out that my wife was pregnant, it was “a bit” like signing up for a first adventure race that would be months away. Emotions such as excitement, wonder, amazement, fear of the unknown, and a firm commitment to being as prepared as possible for the big day(s) were all in the mix.

Truthfully, I had no idea what would come. Like having a child, you never know what that experience is until the day of their birth.  When the gun sounded to start the Raid Pulse, the feeling was very much the same “okay here we go…no choice now but to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

The running, biking, paddling and scramble through the forest crams nearly every human emotion possible into your head into a very short amount of time, and I found that the necessity to deal with them was of critical importance. You can’t give up, give in, quit, or succumb.  Racing has driven me to some of my most absolute limits, especially as I graduated up to longer races such as the Primal Quest and the Costa Rica Adventure Race. I have had my ups and downs, sometimes with tremendous disappointment, and at other times, incredible success.  With raising Étiène, the same critical necessities bear an even greater importance.

As I crossed the finish line at the Raid Pulse, my wife and Étiène were at the finish line. I remember feeling during the race that I simply could not wait to see them both. They were two bright shining lights guiding me forward.  

I learned a lot from that first race, and have certainly been able to apply important lessons to how I have raised my three children.  I learned that what is seemingly impossible at first becomes increasingly more possible by taking care of what is in front of us.  It was daunting to think that I would have to think, plan, move and adapt all day and night with a child.  I had to take the good with the bad, and accept that these two little new feet would be a permanent part of my life, and my every move was of the utmost importance to him.  

When I am racing, I accept my place in the world, and where I need to go.  It was no different raising a child. There could be no limits to my imagination as I searched for what I wanted from racing, and with building up that little child.  Get up, never quit, keep going forward.

I learned that that everything was constantly changing, and by reaching into my very soul I found all that I needed.  There was no fear greater for me than thinking I would fail for my child. In racing, I was fearless. I was disappointed only by my results. Now, it simply sounds silly even saying it compared to the importance of child rearing. I learned the perspective of what was really important.

I learned that I had something in common with every racer, and that is we have all chosen to take control of some small portion of our lives to make the other parts better.  I learned that every step we take in an adventure race is the same step that we take raising our children.  Just keep moving forward.  And in those moments of true honesty and blue eyes staring back at me, I understood that there is no such thing as true success, or true failure, just happiness.

For my first experience racing, I had chosen my own path forward.  I was ready to take myself places where I had never been before.  For my first experience raising a child, it was no different. The miracle of his two feet have carried me in my life in a way to where every day is a new adventure, minute by minute, hour by hour, and checkpoint to checkpoint.

And finally I learned that I wanted every moment in racing, was what I wanted in raising my son.  It was not to be found, but to be made.   

In May 2018, I will return to the Raid Pulse to compete in the race with Étiène. It is truly amazing to have come full circle.  In life, in raising life, and in experiencing life.  All is well in the world.

Raid Pulse is an 8 hour adventure race and will be held this year on May 19th. You can find out all about the race at http://www.raidpulse.com/homeEn/index.php  

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