A couple of weeks back I got to share a coffee with someone who I consider to be an absolute inspiration. I have written about Kurt Fearnley before, and how inspiring I have found his achievements, especially his walk of the Kokoda track.
Well, as a result of that blog post Kurt sent me a response through twitter and it culminated in us catching up for a coffee at his favourite coffee haunt to have a chat. Kurt is one of the most down to earth and easy-going guys I have met, and is incredibly humble. It was awesome to be able to chat with him and ask him a bunch of questions, which I have the pleasure of presenting to you here.
Are you living your dream? What did you dream about doing when you were a kid?
[KF] As a kid, I wanted to be a fireman or a rugby league player because as far as my family and I was concerned I wasn’t any different. As a teenager I discovered wheelchair racing and that was it. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to race marathons.
Why made you decide that you wanted to compete in marathons etc?
[KF] Because they were the ultimate! They were the toughest to do, the pinnacle. If I was going to give them a go, I was going to do the most challenging.
Has there ever been times when you have wanted to give up along the way?
[KF] Yeah, I have fleetingly had thoughts like that, but they always pass.
At those times when you feel unmotivated, or you have setbacks, how do you overcome it?
[KF] I just remind myself of what it is I want. I learned at a young age on the farm, that it all washes off in the end. I mean, I literally crawled all around the farm through dirt etc, and it all washes off in the end. You just do what you have to do to get through it. Sometimes I vocalise what it is I want, why I am doing it… I speak it out loud to remind myself of the purpose.
What tests your comfort limits? Is there much training wise that really tests you?
[KF] Not really for training, no.. if I am not enjoying the training or if I am finding it really tough, I just have to remind myself that it’s necessary. Something that does test my comfort zones sometimes is being an advocate. For example, the incident that happened with the airline after the Kokoda trek. It wasn’t something I intentionally sought out, but you sometimes have to do what is right. Those sort of things can test the comfort zones.
Has there been times when you have doubted yourself and if so, how did you overcome it?
[KF] In my teen years when I was competing I did used to doubt myself in terms of competing, but not anymore. I overcame it from achieving goals… Setting 100 goals and then achieved them all builds the confidence. Anything I set for myself now, I truly believe I can do it.
What would you do if it all came to an end tomorrow?
[KF] I’d go back to teaching. I am a qualified teacher and manage to get a few days in per year at the moment. It’s something I really enjoy.
If you were to say that there was one major thing that has contributed to your success, what would it be?
[KF] Without a doubt, the people around me. My family, fiancé, friends, coach.. my support network.
What is the toughest/scariest thing you have ever done?
[KF] Kokoda (BH – not surprisingly no hesitancy here). Kokoda was decided about 2 years prior to when the trip actually took place. The trip came about after a cousin took his own life a few years back. My brother and I wanted to do something to honour him, and we came up with the idea of doing Kokoda. It was sad that he didn’t feel like he could talk to his family about it. We wanted to raise the awareness of depression and other men’s issues and so that is how it came about.
Kokoda was terrifyingly difficult, but it was nothing compared to the two years training leading up to it. The two years training was torture. I would train for hours out on the Fernleigh Track, and then come home and put a couple of tracksuits on and walk up two flights of stairs for an hour straight. That was really tough. In the final 6 months leading up to the actual trip it was the most difficult. Fears crept in, and it was pretty overwhelmed with everything that was going on. I got through it by focussing on and taking care of the small things I could control.. for example making sure I had all my gloves right, kneepads organised etc. The big stuff took care of itself.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
[KF] I haven’t achieved it yet. I have got a number of goals that I want to achieve, Gold in London 2012 being one of them. I really want to get that gold medal. It will make it 3 straight marathons, which no-one has done before.
If you could give one piece of advice to all the people out there who are trying to achieve their dreams, what would it be?
[KF] Break it down to small steps… Lots of them. Just keep chipping away at the next step and you will get there.
I’d like to personally thank Kurt once again for sharing his time with me. In turn I get to share with you these great insights to an achiever who has reached the pinnacle of his chosen field.
Hope you enjoyed them!
Have a great week!
PS - Kurt would like to explain to everyone that he is taking part in Movember ;-)
Check out his website http://www.kurtfearnley.com