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Luke Richmond: One Life One Chance

by Shaun Kober
November 9th 2020

"I hit rock bottom in my early twenties after succumbing to drug addiction, but managed to set myself straight after finding a sweaty salvation in the Muay Thai training camps of Thailand. Sin... More

Welcome to the live transformed podcast. I'm your host, Sean Cobra and joining me today is luke Richmond who is a coach and athlete and an adventurer. I met luke many years ago when I first came to Thailand and I recently interviewed his wife Police for the podcast and I'm excited to have luke on the podcast today. Um he has done many things in his life, including rowing across the atlantic ocean, he's walked across the Gobi desert, he's um kayak, the Murray river, he's just returned from cycling across Australia. There's many, many things that luke has done and I'm really excited to have him on the podcast and dive into the many adventures that he's been in his life and some of the lessons that he's learned to allow him to turn his life around from hitting rock bottom to becoming the person that he is today luke. I'm excited to have you on the podcast, mate. Welcome. Thank you very much mate, it's great to be here and chatting to you.

How are you? I am very well mate, I'm really excited to get into this episode, mate. There's so many things I want to talk to you about. Um you've got an incredible story and um I've been following the story for many, many years, I know where you came from and you know what you've been through and you know those steps that you've taken to become the person that you want to be today. So I'm excited for you to share those journeys with my listeners and my audience for sure made absolutely, it's been a hell of a journey so far, made plenty more adventures to come, but you're happy to speak about whatever you want to get into. Yeah, absolutely good to hear. Um so the first question that I want to ask is is one that I asked most of my um my interviewees and that is because I am an ambassador for Swiss eight and Swiss eight is a proactive mental health program designed to allow people to structure in and schedule the most important aspects of their life. And They're eight pillars of health and wellness are sleep, nutrition, time management, discipline, fitness, personal growth, mindfulness and minimalism for you luke, which one of those is the most important in your life at the moment, wow!

At the moment, jesus the big list, there all very, very important points at the moment because I'm in sort of recovery mode from the last expedition, it's definitely about nutrition, sleep during, during this period while also laying some foundations for the next expedition. So starting that build up training again, but at the moment definitely sleep and nutrition for sure. Yeah. And then I actually listed them in order because they're the most important for me at the time when I first went through um that list, I I put them in order of precedence, but you know at different stages of my life through the seasons of life, I have had them in different orders and maybe the discipline might be, you know, the top priority, particularly when I was on deployment with the army and you're an ex army guy as well, You served with three are our, is that correct? one area, One area I made the mighty wind up in Townsville. Yeah, the Big Blue one. Very good. Um has it been different times in your life where you have had those pillars in a different order of precedence and one takes more priority over the others poor made, I mean In different stages of life, I mean we can go back to to the military days that was very much discipline.

You know, I was very young, I was 17 when I joined up and I got out when I was still young, I was only 21 and it was very much about just performance in those days, you know, disciplined performance didn't really have a good understanding about training or nutrition and we definitely didn't sleep because when we weren't on operations we were just charging hard hard on the beers and getting in all sorts of trouble. Um you know after the military days I was hungry to keep that adventure and and that, you know that edge that we had in the military going. So I was off exploring the world and having lots of fun, but partying lots as well and getting into a little bit of strife and it was sort of after the military, I had you know that that cliche ad rock bottom moment where you know, I got hooked into the drugs and and became a drug addict and you know, actually woke up in jail in London getting hosed down by the police because I was covered in my own filth and it was at that moment that those humble morals and values come alive again because that wasn't the guy that I was, that's not what the army made me or my parents had brought me up to be so I had to have a huge reality check in that moment and even though I was in a bad way, I got out of jail that next day I went home kept taking drugs that day but I actually did phone an old army buddy and I asked him to make I need some help, I got to get out of here um you know what can I do?

And he had actually been over to Tiger before me and he said to me mate go to this place in Thailand called Tiger muay thai. So I actually booked my flight standing there high as a kite, I um finished my drugs in the taxi on the way to Heathrow and I boarded the plane as I started, started to get sick they started to get real sick and I landed in Thailand and I went cold turkey doing well back then it was three hours of my time in the morning, three hours of my time in the afternoon and just changed my whole life from there. So everything shifted in that moment to this new life of fitness, health and adventure. This journey that I've been on since. Yeah, I know that story and I want to dive into that a little bit more detail because you kind of brushed over a few things there, which I mean you've told this story many times, but I do want to dive into some more of the details here. So um you did say you hit rock bottom, you were an addict and I spoke to at least about this and people come to this part of the world soy diet in particular to train and to you know, change their lives.

Um and there's so many different people that come from so many different backgrounds and people here for the same reasons, but also very different reasons. Um and I have met numerous people that have come to Thailand to break a drug addiction and you know, change their life after suffering from a heart attack or something like that and being told that if they don't sort themselves out there will be dead within five years. So it is an incredible place to be. But I can imagine that That journey that you went through of finishing your drugs in the taxi on the way to the airport and then kind of coming down on the plane feeling sick and then throwing yourself into 3-6 hours of training every single day man, like talk to me about that experience that must have been super draining both physically and mentally. Yeah, it sure was made. I mean I was at that point with the addiction that come off was pretty intense. So not just the emotional come off, that anxiety and fear and panic and everything else that comes alive with the chemical imbalances as well. So all that's taking place. But then you're rocking into this very intimidating joint where there's literally killers, they're fighting and carrying on and, and I had no idea about my tie, but I had this foundation of, of the military and all the fitness that we had.

So I thought I was going to be pretty good and you know, immediately that is just not the case because you've, you've done a hell of a lot to yourself since then. So you had a swallow a big slice of humble pie right there and then and I absolutely died in that first session made, I barely made it through the warm up, you know, just struggled through everything. I didn't quit, which is probably my only, you know thing during that session that was good. The rest was just crap, but I made it through and that was really my goal on day one is just to not quit. Um at the end that afternoon I'll come back again, did it again, just absolute rubbish training but slowly crept out and slowly got back all those biomechanics and all those behaviors that we used to have in the military doing that stuff daily was slowly coming back online, but it was also the cleansing of the emotions and all that crap that goes along with addiction and I guess the benefit, like you mentioned what the people that you meet in Thailand, well once I got to Thailand, it's almost like you can start again with a clean slate.

So if I tried to do that transformation in London, surrounded by the people I was with, it wouldn't have happened, but I could rock up to that camp where no one knows me that no one really knew what was going on with me for years until I told these stories, but you were this new guy, even though you're pretty pathetic in the fight training, you could reinvent yourself and start again with a full clean slate and that's what I loved about the place from the beginning. Yeah, that's really cool man. It is a very um amazing place to be a part of and yourself in the lease ended up living here for many years. Can you talk to me about how you ended up living here and what the reasons were behind staying here for such a decent period of time. Yeah, absolutely. It's sort of coming full circle. I trained in Thailand for a long time, got myself clean and once I was clean again all these desires and aspirations from my youth started to come alive and I wanted to go out and be one of these adventurer guys. Now, I'd grown up reading these adventure books my entire life and I wanted to see how I measured up with some of these guys I was reading about.

So I flew home, got a job in coal mining, slaved underground for 12 hours a day for about six months. Built up this big treasure chest of money that I called my Adventure fund. And off I went to do all these big adventures after that. I thought I'd try and become a bit of a businessman. We started some businesses in Sydney and they became moderately successful to a point where you're making enough money, you're comfortable, but just didn't have that happiness. And I just met a lease at this stage where any brand new relationship I had a booming business, everything's going great. We're living on the water. But I wasn't happy. And I said to release, you know, I'm not happy, what can we do about it? And she said, well, where were you last? You know, your happiest. And it was in Thailand just training, reading books, just working on yourself, just living that stress for existence. And said, all right, well let's do it. So, we we literally sold the whole business, walked away from everything in Sydney.

Every stick of furniture was gone. And we flew to Thailand just to train initially and then started working full time and we spent a great deal of time there and it was one of the best times were spent in our lives. Yeah. And this was kind of like a hub for you guys um for a lot of your adventures, you would come here, you would work for a few months or a year or so, save some money and then train and plan for your adventures. Can we talk about some of the amazing adventures and expeditions that you've gone on? I did mention some of those in the intro, but if you can just give the listeners a good understanding of some of the incredible things that you've done in your life and then we'll dive into some of the lessons learned through some of those expeditions and adventures. Yeah, absolutely. In the beginning it was all about mountaineering. So these are the books I was reading and I didn't really have a a specific goal in mind. In the beginning I was just jumping on Google's Alright Mountains, let's go find a big mountain. I'm going to see if I can become a mountaineer, but I actually found a list of seven mountains and it was the biggest mountain on every continent.

And when I saw that I said, all right, boom, that's what I'm going to have a crack at. So I just ordered every piece of equipment off the website to do with mountaineering and it all got delivered to me out of the mines. And I booked a spot on a team heading down to South America to climb the first of the seven summits, Mount Aconcagua, the biggest in Argentina, the biggest in in South America. So that was the goal of this year to try and climb seven mountains inside of the year. The first one was successful, the biggest in South America. We got that one. Then I flew up to Alaska to climb Denali which is just a beautiful yet brutal piece. Super, super cold dragging sleds, ice climbing, all this stuff I'd been reading about. I was now doing crossing crevasses, rescuing people out of crevasses, all that fun stuff. I got avalanche on that one as well. My first time ever, just scared to shoot out of me but ultimately successful and we got to the top went from there to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and I actually got my father along for that one as well for his birthday.

So we climbed that one together. That was, that was a success. I was sort of flown at this stage. We're three on the trot, went from there down to Antarctica to climb Vincent massive, the biggest mountain down in Antarctica and that place is one of the most beautiful pristine places on the planet the way it is down there. You fly into the scientific research stations, these hubs and from there you can get out on fixed wings for climbing expeditions and all sorts of stuff, but they are absolutely pristine. Everything gets flown off including urine and any scrap of rubbish. So the place is just beautiful. And in the mountain was incredible as well. It's actually just the tops of mountains that stick out of the ice shelf down there. So the ice shelf can be 23, 4000 ft thick and you're climbing the tops of the mountains as they're sticking out of the shelf. So it's incredibly beautiful as your summit down there. And that was my coldest summit Ever. Even today as it was -50 on the summit down there, Just brutal cold and something I had to really adapt to to get through that one.

So another success there from there we flew to Carstens, pyramid west Papua, this one, this one is a spicy one. It was a seven day approach through the jungle. Now, as you know in Australia, we have some of the thickest jungle on the planet up in tully and we've done lots of sneaky beaky training up there, which is Great West Papua is worse, horrendous. Just wasted mar, just thick, thick jungle. And that was seven days heading to the peak. Once we're on the mountain then it was a 13-hour rock climb. It's just a beautiful, beautiful climb. Summited, got back down and that's when that, I'll just divert a little bit here. That particular expedition turned into a bit of a rock show. We had a lot of rain that night after we summit it. And To get to this peak, we've employed 19 porters from multiple different villages to help us get there. You had to employ from each village just because otherwise they start infighting and these little wars and all this stuff. So we had multiple, multiple people.

They brought their family and kids and friends and you're not doing anything. So we had an entourage of about 40 of these local West Papuans that helps us. How many climbers were there? There was only eight of us, eight of us, climate. 40 of these locals Elvis get there when we were climbing. They all went back down into this cave system down the bottom of the range. Now, during the heavy rain that night it dislodged a big slab of rock from the top of their cave, came down and crushed some of the porters and one of the guys had died or so. We thought the locals come up that night at midnight machete spears slashing the ground, wanted to take the life of one of our team. For the life of the guys have been crushed by this rock. We calm it all down the very next morning myself, another guy and our interpreter went down the valley to see what's going on. We get into the cave system, we get to the body, we're just doing those basic actions on, you know, chicken breathing an airway and everything else and he's in a bad way.

His head's all crushed up. He's got clear stuff coming from his ears, you know, he's taken a severe knock, but he had this tiny rise and fall of the chest, he was just hanging on, so he hadn't died. So we calmed everybody down, we ended up building a stretch up, but the only way we could get this guy out was to cross over the mountain range to this giant mine just outside of this tiny town called Tameka there, this is the Grasberg mine, it's one of the biggest gold mines in the world. Big no go zone, you're not supposed to go there because they've got a huge humanitarian rights issues going on, but that was their only chance to try and save this guy. So we hump him over the mountains, get to the mine, Dean and I am a climbing buddy, we hike into the pit, waved down a truck down. They come, they actually bringing mine ambulance and take this guy away and uh and we're celebrating, you know, we've saved the life and and everyone's pretty happy, Oh, we sat down with the elders of this, these tribes that were the tribal guys that we brought along with us just to chat about everything and make sure it's all good before we head back through the jungle on the seven day mission back to she got back to their little village and we're just throwing a few hypotheticals at the villages.

You know what happens if this guy does pass away in the hospital? Is everything going to be okay when we get back down to Sugata and they couldn't give us a straight answer. So as a team, we decided to play it safe, we decided to let our porters go back through the jungle. We were going to go to the mind, surrender ourselves and hopefully get one of their helicopters down to Tameka and get down there. It didn't quite go that way. We packed up all their gear, humped over the mountains, surrendered ourselves at the pit. But during that 24 hour period where we've got the body there. But now we're back ourselves. The mine had been attacked by the free Papua movement so the security were on high alert. They arrested us and threw us in the shipping container and we ended up staying in there for a week is kept locked in there. They brought us a bit of rice and chicken every day. So it wasn't too bad. But that's where we were detained for a long period of time until a lot of international pressure started to come down or the embassy starting to put a bit of pressure on and we got smuggled out of the pit, dressed as minors to a waiting helicopter that flew us down to Tameka to awaiting commercial airliner that flew us out to bali that's a very quick run over of that crazy adventure but that was definitely one that made the newspapers for all the wrong reasons back home.

Yeah, for those listening back home, luke has written two books and this story in particular is in his first book, One Life one chance, which will probably dive into as we go through this episode, but also his second book, vodka and sandstorms is out now as well. Um Sorry mate, let's continue on with that story. What was the next peak that you did? Yeah. So even though I'm going a bit pear shaped, it was still a success in my book. So I was on a roll. So that was number five who got out alive, that's it, that's it. We are. Well, I flew from there to southwest Russia to climb Mount Elbrus now, as far as mountains went, this was going to be one of the easier ones. It was just over 5000. Just pretty easy climb, nontechnical and I was going to try and do it pretty fast. I was acclimatized confident. Now I had a good skill set so I just arranged everything myself, got myself a little guide and off I went Mhm The the mistake I made from the beginning was just not having enough time.

So I only had a seven day window to get it done but I was pretty confident we charge up me and valentine's to Russian fellow, we're charging up the mountain feeling great about day 43 to 4, we were making the first summit attempt, we've got to within 2.5 hours at the top and mother nature just said not today, so it's 100 K. Headwinds, just white out conditions and we had to sort of fight our way back down the mountain, had a rest day, we're going to have another crack and we're pushing from camp one, we're going to skip camp two and just try and go all the way to the summit. Valentine was a fast climber, I was feeling strong, so we went for it okay, we got to within about an hour and a half of the summit this time I could see the summit from where we were before the white out conditions came in, headwinds came up, we were sheltering behind these rocks for ages, just waiting for the weather to improve and it was just getting worse and worse and you know, I didn't have a lot of experience. And I asked valentine, what do you reckon?

And he turned to me and he said It's better to come to the mountains 10 times and go home than to come once and never go home and that was a very important lesson for me to learn and I've just remembered that and just say that to myself all the time on expeditions. It was very tough to cop at that point, but we did, we turned around and we start fighting our way back down the mountain and I suppose you there for a minute, how many climbs had he done Valentine? He was just a local, he'd done all Russian clients, but he'd summited this particular mountain about 50 times right? So he's obviously speaking from experience and you know, as much as it sucks for you to go, hey, I've, I've fucking flown over here, I've done all the necessary work to put myself in this position. I want a summit. You've got a guy like that who's fucking been their lives in the mountains, has done that climb numerous times saying, hey, You know, you're better off coming back 50 times and coming once and not leaving again. You can take that on board, aren't you?

Big time mate. And you have to just push that ego to the back. You know, you had all the experience, took it on board and we started heading down now, I almost forgot this one, turned a bit pear shaped as well when we're heading down on this mountain at this time, there was a crashed helicopter over on like another Ridgeline and we've seen it on the way up, It's on a side all banged up smashed and valentine thought, let's just get over there, we'll hide out in this in this shell, this wreckage for a bit, see if the weather improved and I was like absolutely anything to maybe get another chance, you know, So we're heading over would get to it, pull this tour open, we get inside, we pulled the door shut, shutting off that howling wind And then I had an AK 47 shoved straight in my face. There was actually a Russian soldier sitting in there whose job it was was to protect the intel of this down helicopter and I don't know who we thought we were but he was screaming at me, valentine's screaming at him and eventually he lowers that rifle but he's a hell of an experience to go through when you're getting a muzzle shoved in your face and calmed it all down but he wouldn't let us stay.

So he pushed us back out in the storm and we had to fight our way down but we got back to base camp nice and safe. So that was a little twist on the end of that one. But I was also the end of my visa window so we couldn't have another crack at this mountain And I had to bail out for home. And this was also the end of that year that I set out to achieve. These seven summits had all this money saved up but no idea how far that money was going to go. So I failed on the 6th mountain and then I ran out of money to go and have a crack at the big boy of Mount Everest. And you know, initially I thought I'd failed in my mission, you know, in military terms, I didn't achieve the objective, but in hindsight when looking back a few days later, what I had learned and achieved and done in that year was just just incredible. That's amazing man. This so many incredible stories and experiences there. I want to transition to another incredible experience. You were asked to join a team to row across the atlantic ocean and in doing so, you broke a world record.

Can you talk to me about that expedition? How that came about? Um what the process was to go through that road and what the record was that you broke? Yeah, absolutely. And this was one of the first adventures that came about after we had moved to the Highlands. So after we'd thrown off to all these social norms and what we should have been doing and we went out just to just to have fun and do what we wanted to do. Well the very first thing that came along, we were coaching at 27 at this time. So we're living and training on the street and a guy named Matthew Bennett had come to train with another couple of his teammates because they were heading off as a team of five to row across the Atlantic and these are military lads, we got along great. We trained together for a bit over a month and then off they went. But before they left I had sort of adventure envy. And I said to Maddie mate, I don't want anything to happen to your teammates. But if something does happen I'm ready to go to fill a spot. And he sort of laughed because you know he may well be right. And off he went, well about a week later I get this phone call and it was from Maddie and goes mate, do you want to spot on a boat?

Oh of course. And he had actually met a team in Portugal where we set off from in the pub where they had lost one of their teammates to appendicitis. They were in the pub drowning their sorrows going to cancel their row. And they met Maddie who was also in there drinking beers and they started chatting. He said, hold on I know a guy say that same night I take a Skype call with the road to Rio team, this crew that we're planning to row from logos and Portugal all laid down to receive a in brazil. Mhm. And they asked me if I could come and row the atlantic with them straight away. And I said yes immediately. Then I went back inside the bungalow to police and asked her if I can go and at least she said yeah go for it. So I put my resignation in the next day, book my flight the day later. And within four days I was flying over to London to join this team in this new sport of ocean rowing that I knew nothing about good old beer network mate.

Made the bid Network provides. Always, always. So I landed in London and the team were jake was one of the guys melon Susanna with the two girls and I was the second guy. So we're gonna do it as a team of four. We wanted to be the first team afford to go from mainland europe to mainland south America in one push. So you couldn't stop at islands or coast. You had to do in one hit. This hadn't been done before. Now this boat I've never seen one. So when I saw it it's it's about 8m long so it's quite long but it's it's fairly narrow, it's only about a minute and a half wine. There's two rowing seats and we were going to maintain two people growing at all times day and night. So you'd row for two hours rest for two hours 24 hours a day for as long as it would take to get across this ocean. And this was a route of 6400 km. Okay. So that was a bit bamboozling from the beginning but and I also hadn't rode before. Once I said yes to the trip I jumped on an urge for about an hour guy.

Yeah, that's not too bad. I've got this by my jolly that first to our hit, it was painful. But then you have two hours rescue to go again and again and again. So it was even to this day, ocean rowing is the most suffering I've ever endured in my life. It is a different sport and it uh, for that reason it won't be a mass participant sport anytime soon. It is definitely for a niche market. We set out from Portugal and we had a fairly good run heading down the coast of West Africa. It was, it was tough going. I had violent sea sickness for that first few days, but you just trying to hang in there and adapt like you ripped my riding was shocking. These other guys, they were professional rowers, they rode through school and university and everything else. I was just trying to learn on the job and do what I could, but I was very fit, you know, it's super fit, super strong. I think it's about 95 kg of just lean muscle crossfit adventure physique. But it was all changing very, very quickly.

We had a decent run down to the Canary islands and then we started heading out towards the equator heading towards south America. We had a smaller storm and then we got hit by this absolute monster. Now this boat, all the, all the ocean going vessels, they have two tiny little cabs at either end, which is sort of designed to be semi comfortable if you're in there by yourself, you know, your feet beyond the walls, your shoulders beyond the walls. But you're okay during storms jake and I had to jam into one and the two girls jammed into the other and you seal this hatch which is airtight and watertight. Now these boats are designed to be rolled, submerged, pushed under, they pop up and write themselves, but it's a horrendous experience. So you're getting thrown around like you're inside a washing machine and the roar of these waves as they barrel in, set after set after set. It was absolutely terrifying to be honest. But you've also got this, this power anchor in the water. So this keeps your boat in line with the swell. So you don't get pitch polled and snapped the vessel, but it means you roll a lot and you get jerked around a lot.

We were trying to row through at the start of this storm and it was horrendous. We have white water coming across the deck up to your waist just getting hammered and before I went out on one of these stages, I thought, oh this is it, we're gonna, we're gonna snap in half here, I'm gonna get washed overboard and die for sure. It was just at this, this understanding of how useless we are against mother nature, so smashed, literally a whole tub of nutella, put on my life vest in, my little in curb, clipped on the safety line and just, you know, we fought on for as long as we could Before we just strapped everything down and rode out this storm for about 11 hours. Just getting pumped inside these little cabins. You're just jammed in this capsule with another full grown adult human just getting barreled by the storm knots. Man, that's not. So obviously how far into the trip was that? That was at the end of the second week. So we've only just begun just getting used to it settling in. Yeah, I'd imagine that would have been super monotonous for the first couple of weeks.

Just two hours on, two hours off. It's absolutely brutal. Absolutely brutal. Apart from the pain and everything else, it's just like this never ending day because by the time you stop your, oh you crawl back into the cab like you have to really maintain your backside because of that pressure. So you have to actually clean your whole, but you've got to put Vaseline and suter cream all over it before you can go to sleep. Otherwise you get the more you get them anyway. But these big salt sores, pressure sores or just cause you extreme pain. But you've got to do that and then you might get asleep for maybe 90 minutes. Then you've got to sort of wake up, have a feed, drink some water and get back on the road. So the cycle was just unreal. What was the world record that you guys ended up taking? Wow. It was a bit of a token one C so we After 55 days. So the morning of the 55th day We could see the coast of Brazil and you can see this just green band on the horizon and then an hour later you could smell that jungle.

And may I tell you I had a beard down to my nipples and my body was destroyed. I dropped about 15 kg of body weight sores everywhere. And when you see that land hot, it is just the greatest thing you've ever seen in your life. We touched the sand. You know, family is waiting for us at least was waiting there um beers and all the rest of the big celebration and we were the first team of four to do that trip ever mainland to mainland. So you get this token world record for being the first, so I didn't beat anybody, but we were the first to do it. That's a pretty solid achievement. Made to do something that nobody else in the world has ever done before or not. That's been noted or recorded in history. That's pretty funky cool. That's it. I was hoping to maybe eat a lot of hot dogs and get a Guinness world record one day. But I think that was a little better. I now speaking of rowing, you actually tried to cross the Tasman and I know how that unfolded and I've heard you speaking about that before. I think it was, I'm not sure I was on another one, another podcast or via your social media or something like that.

But um, I know how that ended and why that ended. But can you talk to me about what the goal was with that expedition and how those events unfolded that made you pull the pin on that crossing? Yeah, that was another adventure that came out of the blue. A good mate of mine named Grant Rawlinson had planned this expedition to go from Singapore to his home in New Zealand and he wanted to go under human power. So he rode his ocean rowing boat to Darwin. He'd cycled all the way across Australia and then he had the boat waiting there again to go across the Tasman to New Zealand. It's a gnarly stretch of water down there, absolutely gnarly, totally different to the atlantic, the winds, the waves, the current, everything is just just like a pack of animals trying to get at you. So, he knew that. And he had actually tried twice before to do it by himself and had failed and for the third time, he wanted just an extra hour on deck just to try and make it a bit safer.

Give us a bit more speed to try and get across. So he gave me a call and I was actually in bali at that stage training over there. Um, and just said yes, flew home, got some sponsors for some food and met him down on the sort of southeast coast of New south Wales down Eden. And that's where we went off from now from my experience on the atlantic, I had this, you know, I guess belief that the ocean can be friendly at times, you know, on the atlantic, those trade winds, the wind comes behind, you eat a nice swell, You might do a good couple of days of just beautiful growing and it felt great on the Tasman from day one minute one, we were sort of getting pumped and it just didn't get any better. We kept pushing through so he pushed on and on and on and we got down to about in line with the top of Tasmania as we're heading sort of on a southeast trajectory to try and hook back up towards New Zealand. And I was on the rowing deck at this stage while Grant was in the cabin trying to get some kip and you know, it's a massive wave, curls up, picks the front of the boat up.

And I thought at one point there were going to get pitched cold and that, you know, is going to just snap us in half, but the last second the bow dug in. But we just capsized down the face of the wave. I was thrown out of the boat into the water. I was getting tossed and tangled upside down in the ropes and all the clips and stuff because you're actually attached to a safety line at that stage, lucky I was garage have been just gone but I was upside down tangled and you know, you have that right? I guess instant feeling that I'm going to drown, I'm done. But I don't know out of somewhere, you just crack open some, you pulled, pulled my foot broke out of the foot plate, spun around upside down underneath the boat. And I could see Grant through the window in the cabin but the boat wasn't self righting like it was supposed to uh huh And the reason was because my line was on the safety line, my body weight was hanging on the boat and it just couldn't get itself around.

So I had to make this decision to unclip myself from the boat, swim around to the rudder, clip back on there and try and use my whole body weight on the road to pull the boat around. This is like a huge no, no in that type of situation because at any second if I slip off the boat, Grant can't come and pick me up. There's no motor on the boat. There's no sales if you separate, even by half a meter the current have got you you're gone. Yeah, so that was a massive decision man. And this big swell, you've obviously had this big wave just hit you. That's you know, up, turn the boat and now you've got a decision to make big time a big time and you know, it all happened so quick anyway and it's only in hindsight, you can evaluate the process and speak about it now, but that's exactly what it is. Just unclipped, shimmy around the back, click back on, use my whole weight to spin the boat. Grant came out of the cabin like we'd lost rowing seats, we snapped and all, we'd lost all our kit, the cabin was flooded, we got onto the radio just to let the authorities know what had happened.

And once we got me back inside starting to get warm because the water down there is super super cold. I was getting a bit hypothermic. So it got me in the cabin, Grant came in, we put out the para anchor and we just, we had a decision to make at that stage, do we push on or do we try and self rescue? And we were at sort of 200 Ks offshore where helicopter rescue is sort of at that far reach by this stage, there's not a lot of shipping. Once you're down in the southern latitudes and you know, it was just a fairly easy decision at the end of the day, you know, we had enough things go wrong, an accumulation of things we said right, I think we should call it, same as valentine said to us in the mountains and try again another day. So we didn't call for rescue, we fixed the boat as best we could. We got it turned around over the next couple of days and then two days after that, we made it back to Melaleuca, it wasn't the right down the south of New South Wales.

So we actually self rescue and got ourselves all the way home, but running out there just over nine days, so there was a bit of a failure, but a hell of a lesson learned as well. I've heard you speak about that before, where you said that there was a point in time where um, release your wife came into your head. Um, when you were kind of trying to make that decision, trying to figure out whether you need to push on or whether you're going to turn around and go back and um, your teammate was kind of wanted to keep pushing on, but then something came into your head, um at least came into your head and you thought something along the lines of, you know, I might not see my wife again. Yeah. Was that the case? I'm trying to sound all hard core here and you're bringing up all the emotional stuff. Um, but hey man, this is the important stuff, right? This is the important stuff mate, because you know, it's all well and good to go and live the life that you want and do these amazing things, but you know, you um you have a family, you have a partner to, you know, keep an eye out for as well and you know, you guys go and do base jumping and things like that and it's all well and good to live the life that you want.

But you know, if something happens, then there's people that are going to be left behind, they have to clean up the mess, so to speak. So can you talk to me about the effect of having a partner, having a partner that you care about that, you know, comes into your mind and helps you make what you believe to be the right decision. You're absolutely spot on. And this was, I guess Elise was with me for the Ocean Road, but we were very, very new relationship at that stage by the second row, you know, we've been together a long time, she's my wife and really it was only in that early on in the second day that I had, I had a feeling I'd never had before, I had this sort of gut feeling that something was going to go wrong, that I was not going to see a lease again. And this was early on this day too. And you know, it marinated the following day and I just couldn't shake this feeling. And I thought at first, you know, it might have been a bit of seasickness might have been just the amount of practice taking on this level of risk.

You know, putting your neck out again. And I spoke to Grant about it, you know, because those types of instincts there, you know, you can trust them because they come from a whole backlog of experience. You know, you've put so much out there in terms of risk and evaluation. So when this happens, you can say, well why is that? And we talked about it for a bit and we broke it down and analyzed it, but we did decide to push on at that stage. But after the incident, that's when, you know, we really did have a deep look at things and Grant was the same because he had a couple of little girls and a wife back in Singapore as well. And you do have a responsibility to your family to make the right decision as much as we want to achieve our objectives. And this is something that Grant had been planning for years need failed twice already. So these are very, very tough decisions, but you only get one chance to get it, you know, to make that wrong choice. Yeah, you can make the right choice and go home 10 times. But if you fucking get that wrong, it'll cost you everything. And I've always said from the beginning that to die, doing this stuff would be an absolute waste because you can put enough things in place risk evaluation wise to make it safe enough.

And that's coming from a base jumper? You know, former military like yourself, you know, saying that, but eventually a lot of adventures have turned around and you make these tough calls and that's very, very tough at the moment. But once you kept back and you see her loved one and you have that huggy, like, Oh yeah, great decision, No worries, great decision. Yeah, that's a really good point that you make their um, you know, as a former soldier, you know, as a sniper in Afghanistan, we had to go out and do a task and at times that meant, you know, chasing down the enemy and fucking engaging with them in fire fights, you know, trying to kill them whilst they were trying to kill us and that is there's only so much risk mitigation that you can go through, you know, at the end of the day, you still need to put yourself in danger. But the important thing is having some actions on and having some standard operating procedures to try and minimize those risks as much as possible. And I've been in multiple situations in my life, particularly whilst on deployments, particularly in Afghanistan where certain we would find ourselves in certain circumstances and we would trust our gut instinct and that got us out of the ship so many times, man, I think there's something really powerful about the gut instinct that we just don't understand, we don't know about um, you know, people talk about the brain and what do you what do you think?

You know, this is our rational logic and then it's like, what does your heart say? And this is our emotional um logic, but then our gut instinct, like that's our primal fucking instinct in my opinion. Um has there been many times when you have been on these expeditions where you do have a gut instinct that you know, you have trusted and followed through and being grateful for? Or have there been any times where you haven't followed your gut instinct and found yourself in a bad situation? Absolutely. When I started doing base jumping. So actually the row was my first ever encounter with that gut instinct that that real come out of nowhere. What the hell is this? What you're trying to tell me type of feeling? And we made that decision while I was doing a lot of base jumping, I was making similar calls. So you might get to an edge when you're about to jump and you might be with a couple of other jumpers, but you go through all of your observations, so you check and wind, you're doing spit checks, trying to check what the winds, doing a different altitudes.

You're looking at your landing area, you do your pack job, you're assessing your body, your mind, had a wife field. So you're going through this big, big checklist. If I get to the bottom of that checklist and something didn't stack up. Well I turn around and I'm out of there so you, you have to trust yourself. You trust your gut, even if it's just everything's checked out, but I just don't feel right. You get out of that. I didn't trust my gut instinct on one occasion and I was jumping with another guy. He's a bit of a celebrity in that world. We both assessed it. I was keeping quiet, he said it was good. He jumped. I was a bit flustered. Get a bit sweaty. I didn't want to look like an amateur. I knew I probably should've just calm down, sit down for a while, stop sweating, repack my pilot chute, chill out for a bit. But I didn't, I just overruled my gut with my ego, got on the edge, jumped. And what's supposed to happen in bases, your parachute opens and it flies straight away from the cliff. That's ideal because the object is literally a meter behind you.

I had a hell of an opening. It just snapped around and I had a full sort of 180 opening with twists. So I had opened, got flipped around and flying straight back at the cliff. I didn't have time to get any of the twists out. I had to reach up above the night's, just grab lines and pull on lines to try and turn this thing. I managed to turn it just before the cliff, but then I'm flying out over the ocean with all this tangled mass. So I'm kicking out, get all my twists out, finally it pops open perfectly and I just make it back to the beach in this bit of landing there in front of all these people and they give you a nice clap. But that was a point where I could have easily died or at least been mangled on some stalactites sticking out of town to the wall, you know, and I never ever did that again, no matter who was up there, no matter what was happening, I was done making those sort of calls. So I trusted at once everything happened, didn't trust the second time and it almost cost me.

So now I know exactly where I need to be when those instincts come about. Yeah, that's incredible, mate. Let's talk about um some of your um some of your experiences base jumping around the world. So for people listening at home that don't understand what base jumping in is, What does base stand for. Yes, A base stands for buildings, antenna spans. So that's your bridges and earth and you know, the key objective when you first start, base when you're just getting into the sport is to try and jump the four objects safely and live and get a base number. So you become part of this sort of fraternity of base jumpers around the world. So that's what I sort of set out to achieve and, and had a kind of good old crack at it for almost three years before I hung up the chute. Yeah. Is there a reason you hung up the chute? I didn't have any more clear objectives. So the thing with bases, its not a sport you can just do for a little while then put put your rig away on the shelf for six months and do it again. You have to keep jumping, you have to stay current or you just don't have that reaction time you lose those instincts and you're just going to get mangled or killed.

So I set out to achieve the four objects. I've done that. I wanted to go and jump buildings in Thailand. I wanted to do antennas, did some beautiful cliffs in lauder Brandon Valley. That was one of my objectives. I wanted to jump this dam up in Switzerland as well. So we hit that and then it got to a point where, okay, I was just jumping the same objects again. You know, it's as hard as silly as it sounds, you lose a bit of that fun and adrenaline like it's just not there anymore. It just becomes a little bit. So, so, and that's a dangerous place to be when you start getting complacent doing this stuff. So I'll just go jumped on site again, Whatever. That's when accidents will happen. So it was just time to move into something else. So sold off the rig and bought a couple of mountain bikes and that was the last trip at least. And I just did, we cycled across Australia for a bit of fun. So much safer than jumping off buildings. That was after rowing 2200 km down the Murray River as well. Now that was a beautiful trip.

I, I recommend that to everybody. It's just easy cruising with the current camping out fishing every day. Australia is just the safest place in the world. Everyone should do that. And these weren't even good kayaks, these were like middle of the range plastic things, just go and do it. It's awesome. Yeah. Amazing mate. Um, I want to talk about how your life has been affected by what's happening in the world right now. You had um, like I said earlier, you've written a couple of books and vodka and sandstorms recently came out earlier this year I believe. And you had a book tour scheduled obviously with the pandemic that all got put on hold, how has your life been affected by what's happening around the world right now, if at all. Yeah, I guess when it first hit and you know that tour was gonna be my biggest one yet, there was a national tour with about 35 gigs to do. Amped up ready for it and then boom, everything just got shelved. But outside of that at least at least and I have always set up our lives to be very simple.

So we've got a little shack down here and to see it in the bush. We live real simple, so we don't need a lot of income. So when everything collapsed and we literally had to live on a few $100 a week for a while it was just, it was no problem for us. And as long as I've got access to a bit of bush land to get out and run around here, keep the mental health solid, nothing changed to a great deal for us down here. We had to can a few of the expeditions that were coming up and I don't think we'll get those in next year either. But the good thing is it's got us looking domestically again and looking at stuff we can do in Australia and how big and vast Australia is with the jungles and deserts and everything. We've got, we can do some crazy trips here. And I was getting distracted by the glory stuff of the Himalayas and all over the world instead of just looking what's in my backyard. So that's been a good thing to come out of it. So we're planning a few more trips we can do here at home and just see how the next 12 months goes. Yeah, I excellent answer. Um you guys live in Tasmania and I lived there for five years before and Tasmania is an incredible part of the world.

Um an amazing state of Australia that just has such a diverse range of landscapes and you guys do a heap of rock climbing and hiking and things like that. They're like, how much, how much travel and um how many experiences have you had through the Tasmanian wilderness down there? Uh down here it is just untapped. There's there's like all the tourists, the high tourist ones, you can do these beautiful three Capes tracks, You can do lots of wicked, easy access stuff. Then there's some middle tier, harder stuff you can do cradle mountain and have a bit of fun out there. But then there's hardcore as well as soon as you hit the west of Tasmania pretty much Harvard and the whole west is like bush forest, some of the gnarliest stuff to get through if you're off trail that I've ever been through. So that's always good. There's different levels of challenge if you want it. And then the climbing is world class, there's beginner stuff of course. But then there are some of the hardest pillow climbs and all sorts of stuff all around to see.

Uh I did jump in antenna down here actually, that's where I got my antenna tantas as well, but there's tons to do and that the state really thrives on tourism. So the world's opening up again now and everyone's starting to come down. Um but there's just so much to do here. I think you could hit the west every week and still not do enough all year, there's so much to do. Yeah I think that's an excellent point for people at home. Um You know people became so used to being able to travel overseas whenever they wanted. Um As long as they had enough money and you know time off work et cetera to be able to do that. Um Now we live in a different world for you know for at least for now and people shouldn't look at what's been taken away from them in quotation marks. You know, look for things that you can do, look for things that you can play to your advantage. So an example of this is I'm about to take three weeks leave, I'm taking unpaid leave from tiger and I bought myself a car about a month and a half ago and that was knowing that I can't travel internationally.

So I'm in Phuket Thailand I can still travel with in Thailand, I don't need to cross any borders. So I bought myself a car and I'm literally just going to hit the road for three weeks and go and explore and go and see parts of Thailand that I've never seen before. And to be honest like if this pandemic didn't happen I would live in Thailand so I probably would have kept putting it off and I would have gone back to Australia and I would have gone to South America would have gone to all of these overseas destinations but now I've kind of been forced to go within and it's not that it's not that I've been restricted from doing any traveling, it's just the type of traveling that I'm doing is going to be a little bit different but you know there's still an opportunity to go and explore you know within reason for most people. Do you have anything to add to that? No, that's spot on. You have an absolute ball kicking around Thailand um One of the things that at least noted as well apart from your domestic trips is we did have to spend a fair bit of time indoors in the beginning so we were doing some study as well.

So if people are stuck at home, guys go to coursera dot org, there is just a million free courses, you can do just up skill a bit, there's a little 10 hour courses or 10 month courses you can do. So we've been doing a little bit of that stuff as well. Anything we're interested in, we'd start up skilling and just do a bit of learning as well as domestic trouble but you're going to have a wicked trip mate. I've done that before, you get the Chiang mai and you're going to have a ball. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. But you know that's a good point that you just said about you know doing some study and reading and you know listening to podcast, we live in this world where we've got so much information at our fingertips, but, you know, the ship that people tend to pay attention to and they feel they're fucking brain with man, it blows my mind, you know, why would you not choose to um you know, invest your time, energy and effort into listening people who know what they're talking about that have done something that you want to do and they've learned all of those lessons and they're providing those lessons for free or for, you know, an online course or something like that.

And something that has come up for me numerous times and I've been interviewed by numerous people for other podcasts, I've had numerous guests on as well. Um but for the most part, the most people that I'm talking to, they've use this time in the world this year with this pandemic to up skill and to do the things that they've been putting off for years and they've, you know, they have now used it as an opportunity to do the things that they wanted to do, whether that be doing courses or working on their own personal or professional projects or um you know, studying for their next adventure or researching or whatever it might be. Um Is there anything that you'd like to add to that or is there any resources that you can recommend that people go to, you did drop something there. Can you spell that out for us? Yeah. One of the biggest ones you can use is coursera dot c O U S E R A dot org. And they've just got A huge amount of courses on there that are all free.

And these are from very reputable universities around the world and all you do once you've passed them if you want your your certificate and diploma or whatever the course you've done that's when you'll pay your $100 or $200 to get that. But it's free. You can just get the skills, get the knowledge and bail that's fine. So we did a fair bit of that. We also do a lot of home improvements to mate. I must be bunning's his best customer at the moment. I'm re stumping like the whole shack so I'm a welder now I learned that crafty little skill was pretty rubbish in the beginning but it's getting there so yeah, just having fun. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome mate. You just, I said it on Alisa's episode where you guys just go get action takers, you just figure it out as you go and you know, live your best life. That's amazing stress relieving. Yeah bro. Your mantra is one life. One chance. Talk to me about what that mantra meant to you and how you came up with that. Yeah I mean this is this is one that was born in the depths of a coal mine while I was suffering through these 12 hours of hell each day, just for the dollar now, that's that's one of the worst things you can do for your health is just sell your soul for money.

But I did that for a long time in order to go and live this dream life. And that's where I was sitting at the mess after a dinner right before the night shift. And I come up with my one life, one chance logo. And that was the logo that I've carried through till today. It's been changed around a little bit. But that's really what it's what it's all about now is I really do believe and there's something after all the adventures, all, all the crazy stuff we've seen and deaths along the way is that I really do believe. I've only got about five years left in my life on this planet. And when I think that way every year I say right, I've got five years. What the hell do I want to do between now and my death now, I really believe this is going to happen. So I sit down and I'll write down those things every year and then that's what I set out to achieve. Whether that's big adventures or whether that's whatever it is, that's what we go about doing and that's what sort of one life, one chance encapsulates is not getting bogged down in the nitty gritty grind selling your soul for a dollar, what you must do in society stuff that we all have to do from time to time.

But looking a bit deeper and if you did get hit with that news, it's like you got five years left, what are you going to do with yourself? Well, answer it honestly, write that stuff down and then start making tangible changes in your life to go and achieve that stuff. I think that's a great point and you brought something up there that intrigued me as well. And that was that mantra was born in the depths of the coal mine and you know, obviously you needed to put yourself in that position to be able to make enough money to then go and take off these things on the list. But the first point for me is that one you're aware of that and you noted to yourself that, hey, I might not be here in five years. Do I want to keep doing this for five years or do I want to fucking take these things off my bucket list. Obviously you're gonna need some money, you're gonna need some experience to be able to do that. So you know, you need to, yes, you need to be financially stable to be able to do those things, but that shouldn't be your whole entire existence and that's where a lot of people get stuck.

They get stuck in this constant money trap where they're constantly trying to make money because they think if they have a bigger house or the new car or you know they have a wife and kids or you know they lose X amount of weight that they're going to be happy, that people are always putting their um you know, their livelihood, their happiness on something else, on an external factor, you know and some of those external factors, they are important, okay, but it's the internal things that those driving forces that should be directing the direction that you want to go in your life, is there anything you want to add to that this spot on me? And even when I was coal mining, if you have a clear objective, a good reason why I am selling my soul for this, this high dollar at the moment and taking risk as well, you're underground coal mining, it's not a safe hobby, but when you have that light at the end of the tunnel and you say right in a year, I'm done with this, well then your day to day grind, it is a lot better, you don't get that miserable windy type attitude and you also hungry for it as well.

So I was getting every overtime day I could and then even on you take, you have to have forced rest in mining, so I'm going to do five days straight, you could have a couple of days off, even on those two days off I was down the local pub as a bouncer, getting 20 bucks an hour just so I wouldn't drink that, I'd stay focused and then back to the pit, you know, come monday morning. So I had this just dialed in focus of what I was doing at the end of that year. You're out of there, you just can't get bogged down in. Don't know why I'm here. It's a good job. I'll just turn money and just tick along because then you will fall victim to those, you know, traps of, I let's just get a big mortgage, let's just do this. Just follow the norms of society where there's a whole different world out there if you want it. Yeah, that's an excellent point. Um What you said about being a light at the end of the tunnel, that was that job was a means to an end. I've got so many guys um you know mates that were in the army or police or whatever that went, you know, went to the mines, fly and fly out and they're making really good money and they're like, yeah I'm going to, once I make enough money for a deposit for the house or to buy a house or whatever, then I'm going to get out.

But then a couple of years down there down the line, they're used to that paycheck and they're used to that lifestyle and they don't have an out, they haven't put a plan in place to get out of that position and change direction. They haven't identified the new direction that they want to go in, they don't know what they want to do, so they just fall into that cycle and they stay there. Yeah, it's crazy man. But you know what I think what you just said then is an excellent point of that was a means to an end, you gave yourself basically an end date and you know, when you weren't working, you made sure that you were doing something that was going to serve you rather than sabotage you by not drinking and going down to the pub and working as a bouncer and making some extra money. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, because you just you have to have that focus, hey, the reason lads do get trapped into, I'll just save up for a mortgage is because they haven't reflected enough to figure out, do you even want to go down that road, you gotta sit back and have a real good look inside, what do you really want out of your life and answer that ship honestly, you know, and whatever comes up, no matter how crazy it seems, break it down again and start putting things in place to see if you can achieve that stuff, but if you don't have that insight, you will just fall into the social norms and grind your life away.

Yeah, that's an excellent point. Um you know, so many people don't know what their underlying values are and they just fall into the pattern of you know societal norms. But they don't really take a deeper look and have a deeper understanding of where they want to go, what they want to do with their life. Um That's that's an incredible place to start winding up. May I do have one more question for you um The name of this podcast is the live transformed podcast and that stands for live life to the fullest, train to your potential and perform at your best. What does that matter? I mean for you performance your best mate, that's that's sort of what life is all about. You don't have the knowledge and have the fitness, the healthy ambition and drive that no matter what comes along when that next phone call comes I can just say yes, I don't have to worry, just go and do it. Amazing, incredible answer. If people are looking to connect with you luke, where can they find you on social media website, youtube channels etcetera. I just go to the website Olaf's adventures dot com. O loc adventures dot com.

It's all on there. All the expedition staff. You can grab some books if you wish. Um and yeah, stay up to date with what's coming next. Amazing May it's been a pleasure having you on the podcast. I will have all of those resources linked in the show notes luke. Thank you very much for being on the podcast, mate. It's been a pleasure, your a legend, mate. Thanks for having me, cheers, bro.

Luke Richmond: One Life One Chance
Luke Richmond: One Life One Chance
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