Race Across America (RAAM) Starts 9 June
Noelani Shore, e-Veritas correspondent recently caught up with Tony O’Keeffe as he he was in the final stages of preparing for RAAM 2010.
When does RAAM begin?
RAAM starts Weds 9 June at 1500 hrs EDT from Oceanside Ca.
When did you arrive in California?
Sunday, 30 May.
Is this your second time entering in this competition?
This is my 3rd RAAM, 2006, 2009 and this year. My best finish is 11 days 6 hours
Do you know approximately how many people will be competing in your category?
As of now I believe 30 persons are registered to race in the Solo Category
How has your training been going these past few months?
Training has been going well for me, a big part of training for RAAM is the mental preparations. RAAM has a way of exposing fears and compounding weaknesses, it really is an awesome test of mental strength, endurance and stamina. I have been focussed on developing my strength and confidence both on and off the bike. I feel ready to go.
Can you tell me about what your training schedule has been like?
Physical training has been primarily done on the bike in preparation for RAAM. I raced at the Heart of the South 500 Miler in Georgia in April, and won the event overall. Since then, I have been fine tuning those areas where I felt I was not strong physically.
Did you find it challenging to get in all the necessary training with your work schedule?
My work is more than a job, it’s a commitment. My training is part of that commitment, and I’ve become very good at taking advantage of every opportunity to get stronger. Training is not always done on the bike.
What has kept you motivated throughout this training period?
I had an experience in 2009 that left me unsatisfied, and I see RAAM as unfinished work. I need to finish what I have started, and my wife Jackie has been instrumental in helping me to that end.
Have you set any goals for yourself for this race?
I have set a number of goals, my primary aim is to finish. With that in mind, I want to be competitive in the last 500 miles of this race, so I need to be in a position where I can take advantage of my personal strengths and impose my will. I need to race smart in the first 1500 miles in order to achieve this.
What will it take mentally and physically for you to achieve these goals?
I am there mentally. I believe in myself and my team, and I am mentally ready to perform regardless of the conditions that are outside of my control, that is to say I am mentally OK with whatever the course has in store for me. Physically, my body will follow my mind.
How far will you have to cycle each day?
I will look to cover 300 miles per day.
Has being involved in competitive sport changed the way you look at other aspects of your life? (career, life goals, fitness…)
No question about it, competitive sport has allowed me to grow in so many other areas of life. Victor Frankl’s opening line in his book Man’s Search for Meaning reads: “Life is hard”. I’ve always been let down when I tried to take a short cut towards something that I wanted, however, I’ve found through competition that if I want something bad enough, I’ll work hard enough to get it. Until I am there (whatever the goal might be), talk is cheap, so I need to get busy preparing. Along the way I’ve developed my character to become someone that I had always looked up to, and I like to think that my best qualities rub off on those around me. I am grateful that life is hard, I don’t always get what I want, but I always get what I need.
What is the make-up of your support team?
My support team for RAAM is comprised of family and friends. On the team this year I am lucky enough to have 5 RMC grads including 2 from this years class: 2Lt Nick Bouchard and 2Lt Kayla MacMillan. Also coming is Lt Scott Blakie from the class of 2008, my wife Maj Jackie Cowley from the class of 1992 and myself from the class of 97.
I also have MCpl Dan Bodden, a SAR tech from 413 Sqn, CPO2 Dave Haines- Naval Weapons Tech from CDA, and my son L/S Cale O’Keeffe who is a Port Inspection Diver with HMCS Carlton. My sister Trish O’Keeffe is coming along with two family friends Gilbert Ayoub and Andy Franconi.
Remotely, I have many supporters that contribute their energy and enthusiasm and keep us all engaged. RMC staff and cadets have been fantastic, Kommy Farahani from Chem Eng, LCdr Hugo Laplante and Capt Dany Hallee keep one foot in with the support team. We enjoy hearing from RMC.
The financial and morale support from Helping Athletes Succeed (H.A.S.) is very much appreciated too.
What will this event cost you in terms of money?
Jackie and I figure our personal expenses when every thing is said and done will be about $20,000.00.
What role will your team play in helping you succeed?
The support team is a key part of the expedition, they will come together very quickly to own the responsibility for keeping the rider on the road for up to 22 hours per day, regardless of terrain and weather condition. To be effective on RAAM one must be able to keep mission goal at the forefront. One must be willing to sacrifice personal comfort, hygiene, sleep, space and nutrition to keep the rider moving as quickly and safely as possible.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank my support crew, both my team and those who follow the race, for their energies and support. I look forward to hearing what is written on my blog while racing across the US, particularly during those darker times when things get tough. Words of encouragement are like rocket boosters on my bike, and I know the whole team gets a lift when these sentiments are read over the PA system, usually in the wee hours of morning in the middle of nowhere. Thank you.
Readers are encouraged to send a long a personal message may do so – Here
Further info on H.A.S. may be found Here