Hadani WoodruffFebruary 21, 2023 2 min read
Hadani Woodruff took on the Revenant in January. This is her story.
I thought this event was going to be hard. I didn’t realise it would be THAT hard!
To finish this beast, you have to complete 4 laps of around 50k, 4000m of vert, tick off 14 checkpoints all self-navigated and self-supported, with no watch or GPS to guide you. No wonder only a handful have ever been able to complete it.
My goal was to complete one of those laps.
9:30pm, Thursday night we started the race as the sun was setting, running off into the dark depths of the hills as a long-haired live band played Metallica’s Sandman to accompany us to our doom.
📷 Jason Beacham
Shortly after we began, I was running with this lovely lady called Sue who had three previous Revenants under her belt and we decided to team up for a while - two brains are better than one.
For hours and hours, we scrambled up and down steep hills, bush bashed through beech forest, leapt over waist-high tussock interspersed with spikey spaniards and matagouri, and stumbled up and down rivers heavy with tree fall all while testing the limits of our navigation to find the elusive checkpoints.
One checkpoint took us several hours to find, I felt disheartened and overwhelmed, the map was just so massive, maybe we should quit? But quitting wasn’t an option, you just HAD to keep going even though it felt like one of those long-haired band members was standing there repeatedly slapping your face with a thorn bush…But then we found it! Elation follows. The bipolar cycle of emotions riding with us to the end.
We crossed paths with the leaders a couple of times while we were out on the course, they always stopped to ask how were we going, gave us encouragement, and sometimes shared tips about our upcoming checkpoint. That feeling of community really surprised me, we were all in this together!
Heading into the second night (Friday), faces started appearing in trees, magical creatures danced in the forest, boulders became moss-covered females and I kept hearing people running behind us and chatting, the hallucinations have begun!
Coming into Saturday morning with one last checkpoint to get, Sue decided she had done enough and tapped out. I got close to ticking off the last checkpoint but after nearly 30 hours on my feet, I got confused, my head torch was almost out and I didn’t quite know what I was doing so at 2:30am I got on a dirt road, and flagged down a truck that just happened to be Sue’s husband, or was I just hallucinating?
Apparently, this year was harder than most, I found out later that most of the field had tapped out after 1 lap (that was comforting!) a small bunch completed 2 laps, and a talented 19-year-old finished 3 laps but missed the cutoff.
This event was beyond anything I had ever imagined, much bigger and grander in scale in every way, more of an experience than a race and instead of racing other competitors, you had to compete against yourself and your inner demons begging you to give up.