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Fierce & Friendly Rivals

They race neck-and-neck in every multisport event they enter. With their levels of elite fitness and competiveness you’d think Melbourne’s Jarad Kohlar and local gun Sam Stedman would be mortal enemies, but they’ve actually become good mates since they first rivalled each other in Townsville three years ago.

“He’s certainly a benchmark for us adventure athletes in Australia to chase. He has lots of us on his heels” – Sam Stedman

“We are pretty cheeky in the lead-up to a race, but him more than me,” Sam tells; a day after Jarad claimed a 10 minute victory over his friend to secure Adventurethon’s coveted Ultra crown (4:03:41 vs Sam’s 4:13:00). “We do throw a few words across the lounge room, but it’s all in good spirits,” laughs Jarad.

Both formidable forces in multisport, Jarad and his partner Emma Francis stayed with Sam and partner Jenni Roberts on their recent trip to Townsville, helping out with Sam and Jenni’s swelling adventure fitness business Outer Limits. Both girls are also talented adventure racers, with Jenni triumphing in the female Enduro category and Emma securing the female Ultra title last weekend.

Jarad-Kohlar

“It was quite funny when we were all having pizza the night after the race because there was so much ribbing going on,” says Jenni. “Jarad was toasting the winners and leaving out Sam and Paul [Patrick, who came third in Ultra] was toasting the ‘good blokes’ and leaving out Jarad. It’s all a lot of laughs with those guys.”

But of course that fierce competiveness doesn’t simmer too far beneath, with Sam vowing to one day beat Jarad — a feat he hasn’t yet claimed over Australia’s premier multisport champion. “I thought I nearly had him this time,” says Sam, when they finished the paddling leg and Jarad was only a couple of minutes in front. “I won’t stop trying until I do. Whether it’s luck on my side and he has a bad day, or it’s my fitness; he’s certainly a benchmark for us adventure athletes in Australia to chase. He has lots of us on his heels.”

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But Jarad is taking it all in his stride, saying that, while Sam is getting faster every year, he still has a few more tricks up his sleeve. He also hastens to remind us that there’s a much bigger picture than the duo’s friendly rivalry.

“Both Sam and Jen are amazing and inspiring people — it’s easy to hang around people that have that much love for life,” Jarad says. “It’s very much a case of what happens on the course stays on the course.

“It’s also important to remember that this event is not about Sam or myself, it’s about getting people outside, pushing their personal limits, learning new skills and strengthening their connection to the great outdoors.”

When all’s said and done and whoever finishes first, second — or in the case of us non-elite — 300th, or last; it’s that feeling of achievement that remains. One thing’s for sure — the mutual respect these friends share is unlikely to be exhausted.

“He’s pretty good at it and, for a guy who wins shitloads of races — while he has a lot of cheek — he could certainly have a worse attitude,” Sam laughs.

See all the results from Adventurethon Townsville, June 21-22, 2014.

Thanks to Marc Gregory of Visual Echo Photography for the event photos.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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