Coming to the Centennial Theatre not many knew what to expect! Some had heard of TED.com Talks. Some had heard of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. Many were convinced by their friends or colleagues. But nobody really knew what the night was going to bring. Suddenly, the lights went off, the music started playing, and the night had begun.
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The night began with an acrobatic yoga demonstration by the Urban Health Warriors – Mane and YeunJean. They put on a demonstration of contortions and tumbling routines that anyone else wouldn’t even fathom the effort to try. Their moves were a gentle balance between art and athleticism. They had set the stage for an amazing night.
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The evening was hosted by World Mountain Biking Hall of Famer, Brett Tippie. His personality could only be explained as the amount of energy you’d have after drinking back to back Red Bulls. His enthusiasm, laughter and charm made the speakers at home and entertained the crowd all night long.
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Of course the show was all about the speakers and how they had achieved their amazing FEATs. Jen Olson kicked it all off recounting her life of being an internationally certified guide and mountain climber. Jen made the audience smile, laugh and ponder and capped it off with “Everyone I know is getting married or pregnant. I’m just getting more awesome”, and that she is as she’s the 7th female internationally certified mountain guide (ACMG/IFMGA) in Canada.
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Second on the stage was Canadian Olympian Scott Frandsen. Scott took the audience through his experiences in the boat as an Olympic rower on team Canada. He discussed the jubilation of his successes in Beijing as he told his tale taking the audience through the race almost stroke by stroke. The audience could almost feel the agony that they saw in his face as he raced against the mighty Aussies. Scott proved what it is to be a proud Canadian and when asked about what it felt like to “sacrifice” his time and efforts to be a Canadian Olympian felt like – he very quickly explained how it wasn’t a sacrifice but a choice and an honor to be a Canadian Olympian.
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Following Scott, the Grouse Grind record holder took to the stage. Sebastian Salas, sped through his presentation just like it was another set of hills. His slides highlighted his hiking and biking accomplishments as a world class climber. He was as real as anyone on this evening and one of his statements pretty much said it all, “When I do the Grind I suffer too, just maybe not as long as you do.”
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Nicki Rehn, finished off the first set of speakers with her talk about why she loves to run. She captivated the audience with a story, not of achievement, but rather of “failure”. She talked about a dreaded D.N.F. (did not finish) in one of the toughest running races on the planet. She explained her immediate demoralization, but then her, almost as quick, realization that she was in Italy to run. The race wasn’t what defined her, but it was her heart and her love of running that truly inspired her to climb mountains and jump in to the air in her signature move of jubilation when she reaches the top.
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After the break Paul Gleeson started off with a small slice on his tale of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in 85 days. He had the audience laughing right off the bat as he explained that he had never rowed a boat ever before when he had made this decision. Paul focused on the mental side of his row with his partner Tori and the mental demons that he had to tackle in each and every day. Everyone in audience was inspired by Paul’s story which basically came out and said, “Anyone can achieve anything, as long as they put their mind to it”.
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The second of two Irishmen, Philip McKernan, took the stage after Paul. Philip, not an “adventurer”, but rather a motivator and coach of those who tackle the adventure called life, explained to the audience why so many people are held back from achieving their FEATs. He captivated the audience and left them with a lesson to understand themselves better first before attempting to achieve any FEAT.
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The final female of the night, Megan Rose, came on stage and told of her tales biking across Canada with the Cycle 4 team. Megan, an adventure racer, mountain biker and endurance athlete, coordinates a yearly ride across Canada raising money for various charities especially Diabetes. Her next foray into epic cycling adventures includes the Inaugural Giro de Canada in the Yukon in 2012.
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Gary Robbins, probably the most nervous speaker of the night, asked for a do-over 60 seconds in to his presentation. He had already lost his spot in his cards and was out of it. He looked over at myself and Tippie and I yelled, “Just talk it out”. Well did he ever. Gary gave an amazing presentation, as he tossed the cards aside and spoke from his heart. He told the tale of starting as a couch potatoe and becoming a record holding ultramarathoner in less than 7 years. His emotion and ability to adapt defined his speech and he had the crowd on the edge the entire 7 minutes.
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Kevin Vallely, finished the night off discussing his dream as a child to go to the South Pole and realizing that dream as part of a World Record breaking trek a few years ago. However, the truly inspiring moment wasn’t the amazing FEAT of reaching the South Pole in record time, rather it was the inspiration he provided to thousands of children, especially underprivileged children across the globe as a member of the i2P (Impossible 2 Possible) organization.
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We’d like to thank everyone for coming out to the show and of course to all of our speakers, volunteers and sponsors. Without you, none of this would have been possible.