Tap Out Q&A: Pete and Sam Brockdorff

Pete and Sam Brockdorff came close to winning it all, but Vancouver Island got the best of them in the end.

1. Explain your reasoning behind selecting your partner.

Pete:I was chosen by my son, Sam, to be his partner in this adventure because of all of our time spent together in the outdoors. Our individual knowledge and strengths complement each other well.

Sam:Deciding to go to Vancouver Island with my dad didn’t require much thinking. He’s the reason I enjoy spending so much time outdoors, and having spent so much time with him I knew we could work well together.

2. How did you prepare physically and emotionally for this challenge?

Pete:Emotionally I have been ready for this challenge my whole life. The opportunity came at a perfect time. I am retired so I didn’t have to worry about still having a position if I happened to be gone for an extended period of time. Also, my home life is very stable and I knew that my wife would be able to handle any situation that might arise while I was gone. Being separated from my wife and family was the biggest emotional hurdle that I would have to overcome.

I have been very physically active my whole life, even after retirement. However, when I found out that I had been selected for boot camp I stepped it up a notch. I started riding the bike several miles per day, increased my daily exercises and started eating like there was no tomorrow to pack on extra weight.

Sam:Fortunately for me, my jobs always keep me outdoors and active, so leading into this challenge I was pretty content physically. Emotionally, I was so overcome with excitement that the full magnitude didn’t really hit me until I actually got dropped off and the plane flew away. Once I knew I was selected, I did increase my eating to pack on some pounds.

3. What were the most challenging moments throughout your experience?

Pete:Waiting for and worrying about Sam while we were separated was very difficult for me. It was a real challenge to remain focused on the tasks at hand, especially building the shelter and foraging for
food. Recording the whole adventure was an immense stress unto itself. This became less difficult over time, but it still remained very unnatural for me.

Sam:The one factor that constantly added confounding elements to our activities was the cold. It would turn something as simple as re-baiting a hook into a timed challenge you have to complete before your hands got so cold and weak you couldn’t even get them back in the gloves.

4. Why did you decide to tap out?

Pete:Resources at our site were very limited. By the time we launched many of the wild edibles were turning brown, berries had all been eaten by animals, and the salmon run was over. We had nothing washing up on our shoreline, no containers for storing fresh water, no cordage for building projects, and no driftwood for fires. The only firewood we could get involved felling standing dead trees and removing the outer layers to get to the dry interior. This was a very time consuming, tiring, and calorie intensive daily activity just to get enough wood to cook with and boil water. We could not afford to use it for fires to stay warm.

Gathering enough food for two people to sustain themselves for the long term was also a losing
battle. In the end, it was the bone chilling cold, the dehydration, and dangerous physical deterioration that drove us from the island. Our positive attitude and mental clarity remained with us the entire time.

Sam:We both agreed before beginning the challenge that winning would be great, but not if it resulted in long term physical problems. It got to the point where we were so weak from hunger that moving was difficult and fishing was dangerous. Our feet were also becoming very painful at that point. Because of this, we collectively decided to tap out.

5. What did you learn about yourself during this entire experience?

Pete:During this experience I learned that while obstacles can appear insurmountable, a positive attitude and strong drive can carry you far beyond what you may have considered your breaking point.

Sam:This challenge really helped to reinforce the importance of a positive attitude. Even on the coldest, wettest, windiest day, maintaining a positive attitude was all you needed to continue.

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