He might not have gotten to the finish line at Race Across America, but the experience for Chad Williams was a life changing one. We got to chat to Chad after he was sadly forced to withdraw from RAAM due to medical issues.
RC: First of all how was your experience of being part of RAAM and racing with all those other riders, and getting as far as you got? Did it match up to your expectations?
Chad: My experience was well and truly life changing. It exceeded all expectations. Crewing last year was one thing, actually racing is another level. The first couple hours of actual racing were like a dream, I couldn’t quite believe I was actually doing it.
RC: Tell us exactly what happened? At what point did you begin to think something might be wrong, and was the decision to stop yours or the team’s?
Chad: The heat was really intense. It doesn’t help that I was training in freezing cold conditions at home then racing in 50°C here. Everything was going good, but I started battling to get air in and I was coughing up a lot of mucus. It felt like I was always exhaling and couldn’t inhale.
We realised at time station 13 that I had 8 hours to do 90 miles to make the first cut off in Durango which generally is actually really easy. Trying to do this after 3 and a half days of racing with heat exhaustion and altitude sickness – not so much. I gave it everything I had to make the cut off but I knew something wasn’t right.
The crew kept asking me to pull to the side so they could take oxygen readings. I refused this for as long as possible because I knew what the outcome would be. When I eventually gave in, my oxygen level was 90 and my heart rate was 50 after I had been going as hard as I possibly could.
It was then that my crew chief made the decision to pull me from the race and take me to the emergency doctor. It’s better to DNF and come home with health than to DNF and come home in a bag right? Although I’ll admit, I was keen on the latter option at the time. Too stubborn!
RC: Physically how are you now?
Chad: I’ve been stopped racing for 2 days and I still feel horrible. I’m coughing up a lot and just feel drained. It hasn’t quite hit home yet what’s happened so I’m trying to prepare myself mentally for the realisation that this year just wasn’t meant to be.
RC: You spoke to us before about finding a challenge that satisfies you and pushes your limits, would you say that you’ve finally met your match?
Chad: This definitely satisfies my limit-pushing abilities! I love it. Despite a DNF, everything about this is so rewarding. I don’t know that I’ve met my match, but I know it’s giving it a bloody good go!
RC: It might be a bit early to say but do you see yourself being back to complete unfinished business at RAAM?
Chad: I have a large amount of unfinished business in America. I’m extremely young with my whole life ahead of me. I have so much time to plan and make this work for me in the future. I think before I have another crack at RAAM I will complete RAW. You definitely haven’t seen the last of Chad Williams RAAM Endeavour!