This article was originally published on the previous Obstacle Racers NZ site in October 2015.
Hayden Wilde is an endurance athlete. At only 18 years old, he’s the current U19 NZ/Australasian Multisport Champ, the U23 NZ Xterra Champ, and he recently won the 2015 Moa New Zealand Tough Guy and Gal Championships. The Championships are the culmination of the Tough Guy and Gal series in which the top 3 finishers from each 12km event around New Zealand are invited to run in the Championship race.
Hayden came first in the Rotorua Secondary School Tough Guy and Gal Challenge, setting the best time of the year on the course and taking the secondary school’s record, securing his invite to the Championships where he competed against all age groups – and beat everyone. We interviewed Hayden to find out how.
ORNZ: What’s your sporting background, outside of the Tough Guy and Gal?
Hayden: I first started running in year 10, so only 3 years ago. I then got into Adventure racing, further pursued multi-sport and did my first off-road triathlon (Xterra) this year and got first, which got me into the NZ team. I am also in the NZ team for multi-sport too.
ORNZ: Last year I actually volunteered with a multisport club as part of my study, and the vibe I got was the parents were very much fans of the sport, and perhaps were athletes when they were younger, but now they were older they put lots of energy into supporting their kids to get passionate about the sport and to transport them to races etc. Would you say that’s accurate? And, how essential is your support network in helping you to pursue your sports?
Hayden: Multisport is quite an old sport in New Zealand and yes I agree that the former people that raced in the events and parents definitely get right behind this sport to keep it alive, as it is such a fun sport and anyone can do it. For me the support from family and friends is essential as if you don’t have a strong support team you wouldn’t be able to do this sport, as it relies on the support.
ORNZ: What’s a typical week of training look like for you?
Hayden: For me a have 4 disciplines to train for: running, MTB/road biking, kayaking and swimming. So after school and before school I am normally out doing something, and if it’s not training I will normally be working.
ORNZ: How do you stay focused to train? Especially, from what I understand, training for endurance sports takes a massive time commitment to do?
Hayden: Yes, pretty much every day you have to do something to keep the body used it, but it’s not just about the fitness you have to be very motivated as most trainings you are by yourself and being by yourself for 1-3 hours gets pretty lonely.
ORNZ: Did you find your Tough Guy and Gal win easier compared to competing in other sports?
Hayden: This was definitely a very hard race to do as your heart rate is going up and down all the time and you’re also going up and down. But I would say it would be close to being as hard as a half marathon, as with halfs you’re going hard-out the whole time as well but trying to stay at the same pace. For this mud run you have to do all sorts of stuff making it a very hard challenge. So I would think this race would be up there.
ORNZ: Compared to some obstacle races, Tough Guy and Gal to the best of my knowledge doesn’t have many obstacles which require upper-body strength to overcome. If you were running an obstacle race which includes upper-body obstacles (for example monkey bars, a rope climb, or a log carry) do you think you could still complete it in such a good time?
Hayden: As I have quite a runners build you would think it would be hard for me to complete it, but as I do swimming and kayaking I have gained a lot of upper body strength and think I would be able to do it.
ORNZ: What’re you pursuing in the future? As you leave school are you looking to focus on just one sport? Should we expect to see more of you in more obstacles races around NZ?
Hayden: As this is my last year of school I am thinking of going to Hamilton and doing study there and thinking of focusing on multisport and off-road tri. But if the option opens to do obstacle racing, I would be keen as.
ORNZ: Good luck for your future pursuits!
You can find out more about Hayden on his athlete Facebook page.