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Josh takes on another challenge

In April 2024, Mensa member Joshua Bloom conquered the Marathon Des Sables – a gruelling 250km seven-day ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert, dubbed the “Toughest Footrace on Earth”. At the end of this week, Josh will compete in a very different type of challenge, much closer to home – the UK Challenge.

The UK Challenge is billed as the “World’s Leading Team Building Event” and tests endurance, problem solving, physical fitness and teamwork over three long days. Since 2021, British Mensa has sponsored the Challenge’s Intelligence Trophy – presented to the team who performs best on the puzzles thrown at them during the event – and this year Josh will be representing the society as part of the invitational team.

Ahead of the UK Challenge, Josh gave the following details of his preparation for the event:

“Unlike the Marathon Des Sables, the UK Challenge demands a multifaceted skill set. It’s a demanding three-day test of athleticism, cognitive abilities, and teamwork, all with minimal sleep in the rugged Dartmoor National Park. While the event website offered limited details, perhaps to prevent specific training advantages, I contacted the President and Founder of the competition, David Moran. He shed light on the potential activities: running, cycling, kayaking, swimming, and problem-solving challenges requiring strategic collaboration. Physical fitness is just one piece of the puzzle; success hinges on teamwork and tactical thinking.

“My team of six boasts a seasoned leader, a veteran of past UK Challenges. During our initial online meeting, I felt a tinge of pressure. My ultramarathons and Mensa membership might have painted a picture of superhuman fitness and mental acuity. Here’s the reality: ultramarathons are more about slow and steady wins the race, not necessarily setting the world record for speed. My January VO2 max [a measure of aerobic fitness levels] was a respectable 56, but after the epic Marathon Des Sables in April, it dipped to 49.

“As for Mensa, it’s been nearly two decades since I passed the test. My management experience in recent years hasn’t exactly pushed the boundaries of mental agility, and let’s be honest, some brain cells might have fallen by the wayside over the years.

“So I’ve taken to improving my cardio fitness in the past month by doing interval training and hill work and got my VO2 max up to a respectable 53, which in my case translates to roughly a 10km run in 45 minutes. As for the cognitive training: I’ve been smashing Tetris in an attempt to reignite whatever part of my brain once aced that Mensa test.

“Tomorrow, I depart my home in Zurich, Switzerland, for the UK. My journey ends in Exeter, where I’ll finally meet my teammates, break the ice, and strategize for the coming days. I anticipate an exhilarating mix of fun, mayhem, exhaustion and a healthy dose of British humour, something I’ve sorely missed abroad.

“Stay tuned for further updates…”

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Josh takes on another challenge

In April 2024, Mensa member Joshua Bloom conquered the Marathon Des Sables – a gruelling 250km seven-day ultramarathon across the Sahara Desert, dubbed the “Toughest Footrace on Earth”. At the end of this week, Josh will compete in a very different type of challenge, much closer to home – the UK Challenge.

The UK Challenge is billed as the “World’s Leading Team Building Event” and tests endurance, problem solving, physical fitness and teamwork over three long days. Since 2021, British Mensa has sponsored the Challenge’s Intelligence Trophy – presented to the team who performs best on the puzzles thrown at them during the event – and this year Josh will be representing the society as part of the invitational team.

Ahead of the UK Challenge, Josh gave the following details of his preparation for the event:

“Unlike the Marathon Des Sables, the UK Challenge demands a multifaceted skill set. It’s a demanding three-day test of athleticism, cognitive abilities, and teamwork, all with minimal sleep in the rugged Dartmoor National Park. While the event website offered limited details, perhaps to prevent specific training advantages, I contacted the President and Founder of the competition, David Moran. He shed light on the potential activities: running, cycling, kayaking, swimming, and problem-solving challenges requiring strategic collaboration. Physical fitness is just one piece of the puzzle; success hinges on teamwork and tactical thinking.

“My team of six boasts a seasoned leader, a veteran of past UK Challenges. During our initial online meeting, I felt a tinge of pressure. My ultramarathons and Mensa membership might have painted a picture of superhuman fitness and mental acuity. Here’s the reality: ultramarathons are more about slow and steady wins the race, not necessarily setting the world record for speed. My January VO2 max [a measure of aerobic fitness levels] was a respectable 56, but after the epic Marathon Des Sables in April, it dipped to 49.

“As for Mensa, it’s been nearly two decades since I passed the test. My management experience in recent years hasn’t exactly pushed the boundaries of mental agility, and let’s be honest, some brain cells might have fallen by the wayside over the years.

“So I’ve taken to improving my cardio fitness in the past month by doing interval training and hill work and got my VO2 max up to a respectable 53, which in my case translates to roughly a 10km run in 45 minutes. As for the cognitive training: I’ve been smashing Tetris in an attempt to reignite whatever part of my brain once aced that Mensa test.

“Tomorrow, I depart my home in Zurich, Switzerland, for the UK. My journey ends in Exeter, where I’ll finally meet my teammates, break the ice, and strategize for the coming days. I anticipate an exhilarating mix of fun, mayhem, exhaustion and a healthy dose of British humour, something I’ve sorely missed abroad.

“Stay tuned for further updates…”

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