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After paddling, hiking, sailing, biking and climbing as part of the World’s Toughest Race: Eco Challenge Fiji, how does it feel when you finally cross that finish line?

“I was so thrilled. I was waiting for it for a long, long time. My expectation was really high, I told my team, top ten [finish]  but I’m so glad that we crossed the line,” says Eroni Takape, a local competitor with Team Namako.

“How did it feel to cross the finish line? Absolutely thrilled but also just a profound sense of satisfaction that we did it,” says another local competitor with the Tabu Soro team, runner and paddler Anna Cowley. “There were just people dropping out all the time, so that thought was always in the back of our minds, how far can we go?”

There was also a lot of pressure on the local teams,” Cowley says. “The leaders, they’re so amazing…These are professional athletes, sponsored athletes but we’d never done this before.

“And then because we are such newbies, we hadn’t been really expected to finish. But to finish and prove people wrong was really satisfying.”

All participants in the Eco Challenge Fiji had to first audition by video and submit a CV detailing their sporting experience, before being selected as part of the event. They then had to undergo strenuous training and certification regimes before competing.

“There were a few months of training before the real race,” well-known Fijian triathlete and Takape’s teammate, Petero Manoa says. “And in every discipline …there will be a weak link in almost every team. Maybe someone will be weak in cycling, maybe someone will be weak in padding, so everyone won’t be strong in everything. That’s why we need a team, so everyone is working together.”

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