The Irish-born Copeland has spent several years living in Nashville pursuing a country music career and ticking off some of the biggest adventure races in the country, including the Eco Primal Quest. In 2008, her team Hunky Dory finished 11th at Primal Quest Montana, traversing Montana’s rugged wilderness for seven straight days.
What does it take to be a successful adventure racer?
Adventure racing is a mental test. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other. If you can keep moving, there is no reason you can’t get through a race. Adventure races are a microcosm of life: you experience a lifetime of emotions in one week.
If you could add one discipline to the adventure race, what would it be?
Hurling. Being from Ireland, I think I would have a huge advantage! If I could eliminate one discipline, it would be river boarding. In Montana, we river boarded 10 miles down the Gallatin River. It was the scariest hour of my entire life. I was too scared to cry. I contemplated my whole life in that one hour.
Ever hit rock bottom during a race?
Last year at Primal Quest I had pneumonia the second day. Every few steps would leave me gasping for air. In Utah, I broke my sacrum—basically, my ass—the first morning of the race before the gun even went off. In Washington, I broke my elbow. Each time, I didn’t realize the seriousness of what I had done until after the race was over, so I really didn’t have an excuse to stop.
Sleep-deprived adventure racers often hallucinate. Ever seen aliens or cheeseburgers out in the woods?
In a race in Vermont we canoed across a lake in the middle of the night. All the moonlit trees looked like huge moving cartoon characters.