FEELING the fear and doing it anyway is a phrase Fiona Cleghorn is familiar with. It’s fear, her own, that ultimately led her to create her own sports event management company.
Soaked in Adventure is the company resurrecting the once popular multi-sport event, Monty’s Revenge.
With a strong background in sport and a degree in physical education, Fiona, a Whakatane mother of three, launched the company two years ago following a fear-filled foray into the world of event management in which she needed to break through the barriers she had erected for herself.
Discovering her love of organising large-scale adventure racing and multi-sport events, and realising she had an aptitude for it, has been a journey. Previously working for Sport Bay of Plenty, Fiona says she had once been tasked with organising an Opotiki-based duathlon.
“I’d never done it before and I was terrified through the whole process,” she says.
Fearing something would go wrong, Fiona says her anxiety had escalated to the point where she desperately hoped the bad weather that had set in would scuttle the event. “I was so scared I hadn’t done a good enough job that I just wanted the event to be cancelled.”
Though a flooded river the next morning did mean the event couldn’t go ahead, Fiona says it was rescheduled, and two weeks later, she found herself facing the same turmoil again.
When the event finally ran, successfully, she says she was surprised.
“I’ve had so much fear in the past that has stopped me from doing things I’ve wanted to do,” she says. Citing a “fantastic job that I really wanted”, she says after winning the position, she then found herself creating “all sorts of reasons and excuses why I couldn’t accept it”. She didn’t accept it, but she says there was only one real reason behind the decision – “my fear that I wouldn’t be good enough to do it”.
Earlier still, as a promising netball player, Fiona had been contacted by selectors for New Zealand’s representative team asking her to trial – another opportunity her fear left her unable to pursue, or even follow up.
These days, things have changed, her fear being used as a motivator. She has now run a host of established events, has pioneered new family-friendly adventure events and she is loving it. “If someone asks me to do something I’m scared of now, if I feel that familiar rush of fear and anxiety, I’ll always say yes. I’m always going to say yes to things that scare me. If you don’t do that, then you just keep on doing the same things you’ve always done.”
Fiona’s success with the duathlon gave her the confidence to take on the organisation of a fundraising venture for her daughter’s Girl Guides group. Whakatane’s Amazing Race, a social rogaine event, would exceed all expectations with 270 people entering and more than $3000 raised.
It was the turning point, Fiona says. “Watching the faces of people as they crossed the finish line was amazing. I realised how much I loved doing this and how much I wanted to create more events.”
Fiona launched Soaked in Adventure in 2016, a move she sees as aligning well with not only her talents, but with her passions.
“I’ve always loved sport and outdoor activity, particularly in how it relates to children and families. I love being outdoors with children and doing challenging activities,” she says.
“Adventure racing is huge now. There’s been a big surge of interest and particularly in children’s events. And it’s fun. It’s a team event so it’s social and supportive as well as being challenging.”
Fiona has also long had a strong focus on health and wellbeing. She was employed by Sport Bay of Plenty to help people reach their goals by providing advice and mentoring on health and nutritional issues – something she continues to do, informally.
With Soaked in Adventure now giving her a platform to run established events as well as her own, she says the opportunity to resurrect Monty’s Revenge was too good to miss.
Monty’s returns next month with a new course and a new range of entry options.
“It’s been a great event in the past, and when I was asked to take it on, I jumped at it.”
Since its inception two years ago, Soaked in Adventure events have included Frazzled Kiwi, a series of two-hour, family-orientated, adventure races that attract around 250 competitors, Tough Bugga, a mud run originally held as a flood relief fundraiser for Edgecumbe and districts but which Fiona now runs as her own, and three, six, and 12-hour adventure races.
Fiona says the biggest event on Soaked in Adventure’s calendar this year will be the Moxi Cafe Wander Women Adventure Race she is staging in November – “a beginner-friendly race designed to empower women, not break them”. “It’s about accepting the challenge and then going out there and doing it,” Fiona says. Much as Fiona has done in her own personal journey.
Monty’s Revenge is a multisport adventure race being held in Whakatane on April 13 based at Whakatane Yacht Club.
Further details about these events can be found on Facebook, or at www.soakedinadventure.co.nz.
By Lorraine Wilson