Scott Worthington is co-creator and race director of the inaugural Revenant Ultra Adventure Run being held on Welcome Rock Trails in January 2019. It was a privilege to chat with Scott and discover a little about the Man Behind the Revenant.
How Far Can You Go?
Something I’d always wanted to do was travel on the Trans Siberian Express. It seemed like the ultimate railway adventure. So one hot Siberian Summer my wife and I took the plunge and got on board.
It might have been easier if we’d spoken Russian.
Siberia is vast — you can travel for half a day and suddenly there, in the middle of nowhere, you see two houses and then boom they’re gone and it might be another half a day before you arrive at a station.
But for some unfathomable reason every now and then the train stops. No station — not even any houses — it just stops and people get off and wander around. And there never seems to be a signal. No lights, no whistles blowing, nothing! Even at a station, there’s no signal. People wandering around suddenly reboard and the train starts again.
For a while, we didn’t dare leave our carriage. But there was no air conditioning and it was stinking hot. So next time the train pulled up at a station loads of people got off. We decided surely it’d be safe for us to go too.
So we wandered up and down, keeping a nervous eye on our carriage door, and suddenly the train started moving. We started waving and hurrying beside it, but it just went faster.
Help! The Train Won’t Stop
Now we’re really striding out and I thought “I’ve got to get my wife on the train,” so I threw her into the open doorway.
But now I’m actually running to keep up and the door’s getting away on me so in desperation I wait till the next carriage door comes along AND IT’S CLOSED. Now I’m in serious trouble — I’ve got to get on board!
So I leapt at the door-step and hung on for dear life.
STILL THE TRAIN DOESN’T STOP. I look up and there’s my wife’s head, poking out of the window and she’s yelling something I can’t hear. Then, suddenly, every window in both carriages opens up and all along heads are poking out of the train, yelling and hooting — I’m just the world’s best entertainment.
I had to get inside the train. The only thing I could think of was to get around the end of the carriage and onto the gangway that sways over the couplings.
So I peered around the corner and saw it. A gangway, a wobbly chain and a handle, all looking too far away for comfort. I’d have to leap around the corner and grab onto the vertical handlebar beside the door.
So that’s what I did.
We didn’t get off the train again.
Surely I’ve seen this scene in a Bruce Willis thriller?
But no! This is the tale that comes straight to Scott Worthington’s mind when I ask about his most memorable, cliff-hanger adventure. Suddenly I understand how Scott can envisage a race as hair-raising as The Revenant.
Adventure and Risk — They’re in Scott’s DNA.
Scott Worthington comes from a family of adventurers. You could say it’s in his blood. How far back the trait goes it’s impossible to tell. Certainly, Scott’s grandfather had it in spades.
Growing up in tough circumstances in pre-war England he’d emigrated to New Zealand — as far away as he could get. But England was still home, and his urge to protect it was strong. As soon as France fell he enlisted in the army.
He ended up in the 21st regiment as a radio operator in the Long Range Corps (forerunner of the SAS). Somehow he survived all the big battles and made it back to New Zealand. Scott grew up hearing his grandfather’s confidences — good and bad, terrible and scary — and learned what it meant to be tough and to survive.
“My Dad was an outdoorsman too,” says Scott. He went on this amazing adventure and spent three years cycling around Europe. Of course, this was
The Journey Toward Endurance and Adventure
So, aged 18, Scott boarded the last commercial passenger boat sailing from New Zealand to England and six weeks later he embarked on his own two-year cycling odyssey around Europe.
Back home in Auckland, he spotted a commotion near the park. It seemed to be a bike race — which turned into a run. “It’s the latest sporting craze. They call it Ironman,” his fellow spectators said.
Scott decided that running a marathon after riding a 180km bike race sounded like just his cup of tea.
No one mentioned that you kicked the whole shebang off with a nearly-4km swim first. That was a slight problem since Scott’s swimming skills were of the “flounder back to the boat” variety.
But if you try hard enough you can overcome anything. So Scott began to haunt the local pool, swimming length after length until flounder turned to flying-fish.
It’s taking on an almost impossible task and seeing how far you can go.
Time For a New Challenge
After a while, Scott decided that he was as good at Ironman as he was going to get. He needed a new challenge.
Enter adventure racing. Now, this was something he could really get his teeth into.
Adventure racing is a multi-disciplinary team or solo sport involving navigation over an unmarked wilderness course. A race can extend over hours, days or even weeks and stretch participants to the limits of endurance and courage.
You need fitness, wit, courage, skill, communication, teamwork and absolute determination to succeed to complete such a race.
Scott is hooked on the combination.
He’s competed in the legendary New Zealand Godzone races several times and often trains by doing mountainous solo adventure challenges.
But the one race that Scott has never entered — and not for want of trying — is the infamous Barkley Marathon.
So what do you do if you’ve tried three times but haven’t found the secret recipe to enter the Barkley Marathon? If you’re Scott Worthington you get cracking on starting your own unique race.
Creating The Revenant; A Kiwi Ultra Adventure Run
It was actually Leroy de Beer, of adventure company Off The Grid Events who came up with the idea of a New Zealand Barkley-style Adventure run and Scott couldn’t wait to be involved.
The Barkley may have been the inspiration, but The Revenant is a New Zealand race and has features that are pure Kiwi.
The exact course, the competitors, the selection process, the finish line… these are all a closely-guarded secret right now, but I can tell you that developing the race has taken thousands of hours of planning and exploration and every step has been taken with meticulous attention to detail. This inaugural Revenant Adventure Run at Welcome Rock Trails will be a race to remember for a lifetime.
Small, tantalising hints keep appearing on The Revenant Facebook page. Some competitors are coming from all over the world, some from closer to home.
One decided to sail halfway across the globe — as a “small side adventure”— in order to take part.
Another decided to turn a scheduled meeting with Scott into a training run and spent a day and night running miles through the Florida swamps (risking bears and alligators along the way) and still made it in time for lunch.
These are the sorts of men and women who dare to challenge themselves in ways the rest of us can only stare in amazement at.