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Flying through snow-capped mountains into Santiago de Chile must be one of the most amazing sights for many travellers coming to this part of the world, but I know what I will experience in the coming week will be a hundred times more memorable and exciting, for I am going to be part of the Atacama Crossing race.
RacingthePlanet runs some of the toughest adventure competitions in the world and one of the four desert races it runs is the Atacama Crossing. It is a test of both physical and mental endurance for more than 100 competitors from over 20 countries to run in the seven-day marathon across the driest place on earth. I am far from qualified to compete in the race, not yet, but will have the privilege to observe and experience this most amazing race tagging along the race’s founder and organiser Mary Gadams.
So how did I get myself into this? I am currently reading for an MBA at London Business School and having the best time of my life. One of the features of the programme is the shadowing project, where each of us has to shadow a leader of our own choosing for a week to learn more about leadership in action first hand. I knew I wanted to try something different with this project, as I have already had the experience of being in various managerial positions at HSBC in Hong Kong for a number of years.
As I searched through our alumni list I came across Mary and her company - racingtheplanet.com - in the Hong Kong alumni chapter. I thought, great, here I have this wonderfully different organisation in my hometown whose founder and chief executive would be an amazing person to shadow during my few weeks of holiday back home. It would be a great opportunity, I thought, to learn about the ins and outs of running a massive outdoor event in a foreign land with unimaginable logistical and physical challenges.
Typical of any alumnus we have at London Business School, where all of them are incredibly helpful and answer student queries within a very short time, Mary replied to my email almost immediately. She was very receptive to the idea of being shadowed, and more than that, ask ed “Why don’t you come follow one of our races?” I would have jumped for a chance like this any time, but with my exam schedule and summer internship coinciding with the schedules of two of the upcoming races, I was unsure whether it would be possible. Luckily, my boss at Reuters, with whom I am doing an internship this summer, kindly allowed me to be away so I could be here. And I can’t wait for the trip to start.
I will be filing more updates of my shadowing experience during the next few days while in the field. Stay tuned.
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