Rapid Ascent
Ep.10: A cancer diagnosis at age 17… 2 weeks from MTB World Champs

Ep.10: A cancer diagnosis at age 17… 2 weeks from MTB World Champs

February 17, 2020

Brendan Johnston has cemented himself as the most consistently high performing mountain biker in marathon XC events all over Australia in recent years.

He has collected 4X National XCM Championships, 19 straight Marathon wins and was a National XCM Series Winner in 2016/17.

But he took the long road to get there. At just 17 years of age he had a paratesticular lump that needed to be removed. What followed was a series of operations and months of treatment.

The physical and emotional toll was almost insurmountable. All this happened two weeks out from the UCI MTB World Championships in Canberra. Incredibly, Brendan made it to the the start line. 

The real challenge was yet to come though. Brendan contracted a nasty infection during treatment. He went into full survival mode...

Tune in to hear Brendan's incredible story of courage against adversity and how he went onto become the pro athlete & humble human being he is today.

Here's Episode 10 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with your host, Ben Hucker, and guest, Brendan Johnston.

Ep.9: Olympic MTB dreams shattered… what do you do next?

Ep.9: Olympic MTB dreams shattered… what do you do next?

January 15, 2020

From windy Wellington to sunny Wollongong, Samara Sheppard had her sights firmly set on Tokyo 2020. Her Olympic dreams have been shattered though. Changes to the Olympic selection policy made it almost impossible for Samara to qualify.

Find out how she still manages to keep a big smile on her face though and hear about her new plans for the 2022 UCI Road World Championships. All the action will be taking place in her adopted hometown of Wollongong, New South Wales.

Sheppard was born in Clyde in the South Island of New Zealand. She suffered a series of injuries as a runner which led her to move into cycling as an alternative sport and relocated to Australia in 2016.

Tune in to gain a deep insight into the challenges of racing abroad as a self-funded privateer and the mindset of female athlete in a male dominated sport.

Samara also talks about her time representing New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast where she finished ninth out of twelve competitors in the women's cross-country competition.

Here's Episode 9 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with your host, Ben Hucker, and guest, Samara Sheppard.

Ep.8: A life of adventure with a “little bit” of running mixed in

Ep.8: A life of adventure with a “little bit” of running mixed in

December 16, 2019

We're super pumped to announce Kellie Emmerson as our guest for Episode #8 of the Rapid Ascent podcast.

Kellie's a 3x Australian long-distance trail running champ, a PhD Student, Ultra Trail World Tour Runner, a Neurological Occupational Therapist and in-demand Running Coach.

Oh and she's won the Surf Coast Century x3 times! But the best thing of all? She remains a humble, down to earth girl who counts her running achievements as incidental to a life of adventure.

Tune in to hear Kellie's inspiring story in Episode 8 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with your host Ben Hucker.

Ep.7: How a nasty MotoX injury lead to a career in Mountain Biking

Ep.7: How a nasty MotoX injury lead to a career in Mountain Biking

November 15, 2019

He's got a ready smile, an infectious laugh and one of the most engaging personalities of anyone in the pro mountain bike ranks. He's also been described as the "Riders Rider" by the mountain bike fraternity. Meet GIANT sponsored rider Josh Carlson.

After years of racing motocross and Supercross events in Australia at a pro level, Josh suffered a nasty injury that threatened to derail his moto career. He took up mountain biking to have some fun and rest up. But he never looked back.

Josh was so fast that when he started racing the officials had to move him into the pro ranks in the cross-country division. Riders were complaining he was too quick!

And when he started racing the enduro format, Josh quickly established himself as one of the top riders in the world. He’s won events in North America and placed 10th overall in the Enduro World Series (EWS). He's not afraid of going fast or telling it how it is either. 

Tune in to hear Josh's inspiring story in Episode 7 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with your host Ben Hucker.

Ep.6: AIDS survivor, cancer survivor and supreme adventure racer

Ep.6: AIDS survivor, cancer survivor and supreme adventure racer

October 15, 2019

In the 1990s, Deanna Blegg was a super-fit 24-year-old. But she soon became a super-sick 24-year-old. She lost 20 kilograms in six weeks. She had constant fevers, sweats, nausea, and swollen glands. She could barely stand without passing out.

A round of antibiotics had no effect. So she went back to the doctor who gave her the bad news... she was HIV-positive.

Just two years later, HIV developed into AIDS—a process Deanna had been told would take 10 years. Her doctors gave her six months to live. 

Tuner in to hear what happened next and her remarkable entry into the world of adventure racing with Rapid Ascent.

Ep.5: A nasty fall and a broken femur… the Doctor said he’d never race a MTB again

Ep.5: A nasty fall and a broken femur… the Doctor said he’d never race a MTB again

September 16, 2019

Paul van der Ploeg has cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with in mountain biking over the past several years. Not only on the Australian mountain bike circuit, but also in Europe and around the world.

The monster from Mount Beauty embraced the modern Eliminator XC format early in his career and picked up a World Cup Eliminator win in England 2011.

In 2013 he WON the World XC Eliminator title in South Africa.

Paul has since competed in the Enduro World Series (EWS) and a swag of other major MTB events on and off the road.

And he was planning a massive 2019 season until a nasty accident in February at Rotura in New Zealand left him with a broken femur. The Doctor said he'd never race a MTB again.

Find out what Paul's response was to that in Episode 5 of the Rapid Ascent podcast...

Ep.4: 535 consecutive half marathons for a mate you’ve never met…

Ep.4: 535 consecutive half marathons for a mate you’ve never met…

August 15, 2019

He's a father of four and runs a local gym in Geelong with his wife. But he's also a Guinness World Record holder and just completed 535 consecutive half marathons in June 2019. 

In Episode 4 of the Rapid Ascent podcast we interview running machine and 2019 Surf Coast Century participant, Matt Daniels.  

He's incredibly humble despite his achievements. And he's raised almost $100,000 for charity doing some crazy running adventures. 

Now find out why he just completed 535 consecutive half marathons for a mate he's never met. We talk at length about the Surf Coast Century too.  Here’s Episode 4 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with Matt Daniels.  And your host, Ben Hucker.

P.S. We're looking for lots of volunteers for this year's Surf Coast Century. If you'd like to help us out on the day then let us know by REGISTERING your details.

Ep.3: Is this man one of Australia’s greatest endurance athletes?

Ep.3: Is this man one of Australia’s greatest endurance athletes?

July 15, 2019

In Episode 3 of the Rapid Ascent podcast we interview the founder of Rapid Ascent—the man himself, John Jacoby. At just 19 John became a World Marathon Kayak Champion. He went on to win 3 more World Kayak titles along with 3 Multisport World Championships.

He was the given the keys to the city of Melbourne at the tender age of 22 in recognition of these achievements. His crowning glory was perhaps winning the prestigious ‘Adventurer of the Year’ Award in 2015.

But he talks of his adventures with his mates as his most satisfying achievements. And he even managed to scale Makalu in the Himalayas at 28,000 feet recently with a couple of old mates from Colorado.

He’s as tough as they come....seriously tough. And he’s also my boss! He surfs, he paddles, he goes mountain biking, he’s goes mountaineering.

I could go on and on with a full list of John’s achievements. But I think it’s better to jump right into the episode and hear it from the man himself.

Here’s Episode 3 of the Rapid Ascent podcast with the founder of Rapid Ascent, John Jacoby. And your host, Ben Hucker.

Ep.2:  Juggling work as a senior barrister, mum of 4 and a life of endurance

Ep.2: Juggling work as a senior barrister, mum of 4 and a life of endurance

June 12, 2019

Sharn Coombes was a Crown Prosecutor in Victoria for three years. She is now a member of the Victorian Bar and manages a busy schedule bringing justice to some of Victoria's worst criminals. She's also a devoted wife, Mum of four kids, an endurance athlete and Runner-Up Australian Survivor 2018. Find out what her secret is...

Ep.1: Man dies on the beach then goes for a run in the desert

Ep.1: Man dies on the beach then goes for a run in the desert

May 10, 2019

Sean Purcell is lucky to be alive. In 2014 he went for your typical Sunday morning jog with his dog. His wife and 4 kids expected him home not long after. Well, he never came back. Find out what happened next and the transformation that ensued...