x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Adventurer primed for new quest

Back home in Dubai after setting a kite-skiing record, Adrian Hayes says he is preparing for the next challenge - wherever it may take him.

Adrian Hayes practises for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge at Jumeirah beach in Dubai.
Adrian Hayes practises for the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge at Jumeirah beach in Dubai.

DUBAI // He has been back from his exhausting polar adventure for only a matter of weeks, but already the record-breaking explorer Adrian Hayes is back in training for another challenge. Hayes and his two Canadian teammates, Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe, made history on July 26 when they completed the 4,262km, 67-day Emirates NBD Greenland Quest across the world's largest ice sheet.

Their gruelling journey made history as the longest unsupported kite-skiing polar expedition. After spending some time recovering and relaxing in the UK, Hayes returned to Dubai, his home of 14 years, in mid-September. Yesterday, in Jumeirah, the British father of two said the completion of his fourth polar expedition had only left him hungry for more. "I am already working on a number of future expeditions, none of which I can discuss yet," he said. "But I always look to push the boundaries. They will be happening in the next two years. I love doing them; they have become a part of my job."

In the meantime, the remaining few months of 2009 will be spent tackling two challenges closer to home: holding on to his title as the UAE's fittest man at the Fitness First Cross Training Challenge in November and taking on the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge in December, which involves mountain biking, kayaking, sand running, abseiling and climbing, for six 14-hour days. "I was doing weights a couple of times a week and ran a couple of times a week, when in the UK, but nothing special," he said. "Now I am back to serious training."

Pointing to a bronzed trophy on his shelf from last year's Fitness First challenge, he said winning that competition was his proudest moment "because the mean age for successful polar explorers is in their 40s but for fitness challenges such as this, its usually your 20s". In preparation, he is now kayaking between one and two hours each morning, as well as running, rock climbing, swimming and weight training. The rest of his time is spent preparing for the next expedition, giving motivational speeches and offering corporate coaching to UAE businesses.

Clearly recalling the 67 days he spent battling the bitter winds and crevasses of Greenland is not easy. "It's like a blur in time, because you are transported away from everyday life, and you are so focused in this zone for three months, the world just doesn't exist," he said. "It's funny, I look back on that period of time, the financial crisis went on, and the world went on without us, but all that concerned me were those most basic of needs - food, warmth and shelter. Most days I don't think about it, but then you have a quiet moment and remember."

The first few days immediately after the expedition were not as jubilant as one might expect. "You don't speak much. I have some pictures of us just looking on in silence, because you are just in bewilderment," he said. "We had put so much focus into it and suddenly it's over. "Yes, it does feel like a loss. This is the difference between the mountains and the poles: you come out of the mountains elated. In the UK I just felt emotional, but I had experienced it before and so I knew it was coming."

Hayes said he had tackled the feeling by "going into hibernation" and avoiding anyone outside his family and closest friends while in the UK. "They are used to it now," he said. "I don't think people understand how much physical and mental preparation goes into these expeditions. "You train as hard as a professional athlete, four to six hours a day, but the difference is they will have breakfast, go to bed and rest and eat, but you're doing that and briefing your support team, preparing the expedition equipment, getting briefed on the whole climate change aspect of our mission, daily calls to Canada.

"I was so stressed out. I don't think I have ever worked as hard as I did in the first four months of this year." Although the Emirates NBD Greenland Quest missed the deadline for the 2010 Guinness Book of Records, the results of the environmental tests that the trio performed while in Greenland are expected to appear in print by the end of the year. loatway@thenational.ae