Known as Townsville’s multi-sport queen, Jenni Roberts didn’t discover the discipline until three years ago. She jokes it took a painful mountain bike stack that saw her riding 45km of single track one-handed to convince multi-sport-machine Sam Stedman, now her partner, that she had what it took. Now Jenni and Sam are gearing-up for their next major challenge — a world renowned expedition that’s set to unfold on our doorstep next year.
“Geocentric has just announced that the next XPD Expedition Race is going to be in and around the Townsville region,” says Jenni, who works full time in the Army as a helicopter pilot, plus alongside Sam in their adventure fitness business Outer Limits. “It’s a five to 10-day race over 700km that could go anywhere from Hinchinbrook to Paluma to Magnetic Island. They haven’t decided on the course yet, but the possibilities are endless and it will be a massive opportunity for Townsville.”
“After the race you swear you’ll never do it again, then four hours later you’re on the net Googling the next one — it’s like an addiction” - Jenni Roberts
So how do you prepare for a race like this a year out? By doing as many multi-sport challenges as you can in the lead up and using the next 12 months to ensure you have the best gear and have done all the right preparation. For Jenni that means getting her feet battle-hardened.
“My biggest low point was when I had to pull out of the last XPD Expedition Race because of the debilitating blisters I got from trekking with wet feet — my whole team had to forfeit. So, for me, this year will be all about giving my feet the exposure they need for me to finish it. I don’t believe in excuses and Sam and I strongly subscribe to the belief that the only thing that should stop you is your fitness.”
For those reading this thinking they could never become a ‘Jenni’, think again. Passionate about getting more women involved in multi-sport, this athlete admits she was “average” at most sports at school, but never excelled in one particular area. “I thought if I’m OK at everything then I should be good at multi-sport as you need to be OK at everything!” she laughs. “I did a few events with friends, that’s when I actually met Sam, and really enjoyed them. That’s when I decided to try to be good at it.”
That meant getting firmly stuck into the training, which is six times a week in the lead-up to an event, sometimes twice a day, and with a four-hour-long session at the weekend. But as someone who’d prefer to do a 30km mountain bike ride to relax instead of languishing in front of the TV, Jenni classifies training as fun. Plus it makes race day a lot more enjoyable. “I’ve done a few races without training and you’re in the hurt locker a lot longer,” she laughs. “Sometimes when I’m racing my brain is screaming at me to stop, but I just think, ‘put one foot in front of the other’, no matter how slowly that is! Being in the Army, I also always think, ‘no matter how hard it is, at least someone isn’t shooting at you!”.
THREE QUESTIONS WITH JENNI
What scares you? Scuba diving — I don’t like the idea of being under the water and unable to breathe. I think it comes after doing helicopter underwater escape training.
What would surprise people about you? I do a ballet class once a week at Anne Roberts School of Dance — I would advise anyone who did it as a child to rediscover it. It’s the one time in the week where my brain actually switches off because it’s such a focused activity. Also, people may be surprised about the amount of chocolate Sam and I both get through!
What motivates you? Remembering that feeling of crossing the finish line — it’s a great sense of achievement and fulfilment that keeps you going back despite the pain. After the race you swear you’ll never do it again, then four hours later you’re on the net Googling the next one — it’s like an addiction.
More about the XPD Expedition Race…
From August 3-14 2015, 200+ competitors from around the globe will undertake a 700km adventure race involving mountain biking, running and kayaking in tropical North Queensland. Find out more here.
JENNI’S RACE RESULTS
- Adventure on a Summers Weekend – Sweaty 60 – 1st place; Multisport – 2nd place
- Magnetic Island Adventurethon Enduro Course – 1st place
- Adventure on a Summers Weekend – Dirty 30 Run – 2nd place overall, 1st place age group; Multisport – 1st place
- Magnetic Island Adventurethon Ultra Course – 1st place
- Wenzhou Outdoor Challenge Adventure Race China (mixed team of 2) – 15th place
- 3D Australasian Multi-Sport Championships – 15th place
- Geoquest Australia’s Premier Adventure Race – 2nd place (Team Outer Limits)
- Australasian Rogaine Championships 12 hour – 1st place (Female team), 4th overall
- Adventurethon National Challenge (Ultra Course) – 2nd place
- XPD 10-day expedition race
- OnAMission Multi-Sport – 1st Place Ultra course
- 24hr X Marathon Adventure Race – 1st place Female team