MY JOURNEY TO NO. 7 by Brendon Skerke

I grew up playing competitive sport from the age of 5. Born and bred in Victoria it was simple. As soon as you were walking and running, in the winter you donned an AFL footy jumper and joined thousands of other kids running around a giant footy oval in arctic temperatures with barely a blade of grass on the ground and in the summer you put on the whites and grabbed your cricket bat and ball or head down to the athletics track.

My family and I loved sport. With active young parents and younger siblings our week was a craze running from one sporting area, ground or complex to another to train or play. By the age of 18. I had played 100's of games of Football, Cricket and Basketball and ran 1000's of kilometers. My body was breaking down badly and by the age of 24 there was barely a day I wasn't in pain or hobbling around. One year later I underwent my second knee reconstruction and at the ripe old age of 25 I decided enough was enough.

Over the next few years I gave up competitive sport, moved to Queensland and fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a police officer. With all of my energy directed towards policing and my newfound family of blue, I remained basically fit with intermittent, non-structured training but with no goals or aspirations to compete in any sport.

In 2005, and in my early 30's I started experiencing something that my entire life had never been an issue. Weight gain. While I have good genetics and most would scoff at what I call fat, as someone who had always had single figure fat percentage and good muscle definition, I could no longer see the six pack and my standard 30" waist shorts and pants couldn't be done up without concentrated effort.

I had just moved to the tropical Far North of Queensland with weather perfect for outdoor living and sports so I decided I needed to do something about it. Problem was with a battered body from all the years of competitive sport my exercise choices were limited.

I tried basic Running but this caused pain to my multiple reconstructed knee that I had since re ruptured and the early onset of arthritis in my feet meant for every one day of training I need 3 off to recover. While I loved the water, I was never much of a swimmer so that left the only low body impact sport I knew Cycling. It wasn’t long before I'd got myself a flash Italian steed and joined the local social coffee rides. Always being a competitive person, my newfound weight reduction strategy turned into a passion and my desire to be competitive was again ignited.

I joined the local road-racing club and by 2007 was racing in a grade and had become a member of a small local racing team. When I wasn’t working or spending precious time with my new wife I was clocking up the ks. In December of 2007 large truck towing a dog trailer decided he need more of the road than me. Minutes later I was laying roadside with blood streaming from an arterial bleed and arm and shoulder joints in places they shouldn’t be. While surgeons corrected all of these issues over the following months I was left pondering whether the risk was worth the reward. Despite my apprehension to share the road I continued on.

In early 2010, one of the local riders from the racing club approached me with a proposal. Scott and his wife Abby were looking to compete in a MTB race held in Far North Queensland. This race was reportedly the longest, hardest and hottest race in the world, run and dominated by Europeans. Scott's vision was to surround his wife with domestiques in an attempt for her to become the first Australian women to win the infamous Crocodile Trophy. This proposal changed my life. Not only did it introduce me to mountain biking but also it created a passion in an event and a competitive sport that I hadn't truly experienced for many years.

Over the next few months I will touch on past editions of the Croc Trophy and an inside look of the lead up to this years race. I will talk about my daily training routine and everything I do in preparation to make it my most successful Crocodile Trophy thus far


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