Welcome to our series of interviews with American adventure racing teams who participated in the World's Toughest Race Eco-Challenge: Fiji! This 11-day adventure race took place in September 2019 and will premiere on Amazon Prime on August 14th, 2020. Check out USARA's dedicated Eco-Challenge: Fiji page for interviews from other teams and additional material concerning the race!
Please introduce yourself!
My name is Roy Malone and I’m the captain of Team Bones Adventure (#47). I live in El Dorado Hills, CA and am a retired banker.
What was your adventure racing experience prior to Eco-Challenge: Fiji? Have you participated in previous Eco-Challenges or other adventure races?
I raced Eco-Challenge: Fiji in 2002. The team has raced in over 35 expedition length adventure races over the past 20 years. Collectively, the members of the team have competed in over 80 expeditions.
How did your team come together, and how did you train for Eco-Challenge: Fiji?
Over the years, I have tried to recruit the best athletes in the sport to race on the team. I’ve been really lucky to have raced with Mari Chandler since 2008 - she’s acknowledged as one of the best athletes in the sport. I pulled Jen Segger out of adventure racing “retirement” in 2016 to participate in the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) Championships in Australia. And I was fortunate to add Charles Triponez to the team when he moved to California from Switzerland where he had been captain of R’adys. We live in different parts of the country, so getting together is difficult, but we are all experienced and know what it takes to be in top physical shape for a race like Eco-Challenge. We hold each other accountable - especially since there is nowhere to hide once the race starts. You’ve either put in the time, or you haven’t.
What were you most looking forward to at Eco-Challenge: Fiji, and what scared you the most?
Having raced there in 2002, I knew that Fiji’s culture and its people are the best in the world. The unconditional support and joy in every village we traveled through was unbelievably motivating. We made sure that despite the “race” aspect of the competition, we interacted with the locals as we passed through their village.
The thing to be most scared about while racing in Fiji is invisible. The bacteria that invades any open wound can quickly render you useless. Rashes, infections, fevers, foot rot – they are all constant adversaries during ten days in the jungle.
What was your favorite piece of gear and/or clothing and/or food?
Gear: Pivot Les 29’er mountain bike (makes me smile to ride it)
Clothing: Viakobi Vcold base layer (paddling/jungle trekking/even biking- whenever it’s cold)
Food: OMeals Southwest Chicken and Rice (self-heating dehydrated goodness)
Describe a favorite moment of Eco-Challenge: Fiji, or one where you suffered the most.
A favorite moment came during a section where we were allowed to get local assistance. We traveled a gravel road in a steep canyon with a family of six - five of whom were kids. Everyone carried something - even the five-year-old, who wanted to carry the “snack baggie”. We talked about their village, their school, their lives. At some point, the eldest child started singing a local Fijian song and the whole family joined in, filling the canyon and our hearts with love for this family we just met.
After Eco-Challenge: Fiji, would you do another adventure race? Would you do the Eco-Challenge again?
Of course. It’s part of who we are. The struggle, the adventure, the camaraderie, the challenge. It becomes a lifestyle.
What internal struggles did you experience during Eco-Challenge: Fiji? Did you experience any moments of self-reflection and/or growth?
For me, with each race there are moments of extreme hardship. You know you can get through it, but it’s painful and miserable. It’s at these points, where you really appreciate the simple things in life that are often taken for granted - a Sunday morning sleep-in, coffee with a friend, being at the park with the kids… They become so much richer after you’ve suffered.
What was re-entry into civilization like, both after the finish line in Fiji and back in your home country?
Ah, re-entry. Good question. There is so much buildup in a race like Eco-Challenge: Fiji. A year of preparation, training, communication, logistics, sacrifices - all get compressed into an adrenaline infused ten days. The aftermath isn’t always pretty. The crash back to reality can be hard and there is often a funk that follows you for a bit. It’s easy to share stories with others who raced - as they just had the same shared experience. It’s not as easy to find the words for your support at home. It takes some time.
How would you like fans to interpret your participation in Eco-Challenge: Fiji? Did you set out to inspire another group of people and do you think you accomplished that?
Bones Adventure is fortunate to have on our team some of the best female adventure athletes. We wanted to prove that a team composed of two men and two women could compete with the best teams in the world. Did we accomplish this? You’ll need to tune in to find out. Regardless of how we did, we hope that more women will attempt the sport. It’s the only sport where mixed gender teams are a requirement. It’s a good illustration as to why it matters.
Stay tuned for more from USARA! Visit www.usara.com for more information on adventure racing in the United States.
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