Terri Schneider responses to five questionse for athlete profile
ASJ: How would you describe your career?
TS: Career sounds like a very serious word – I coach, consult, write and speak. My job is to remind people of who they already are, to support and inspire people to grow and expand however they want to. That’s what I have passion for and I’ve been fortunate to be able to translate that into a career. Generally I’ve approached this through sport, though people who interact with me know that the growth often goes much deeper than learning the details of whatever sport we happen to be focusing on. In the past few years I’ve taken up photography as an additional way to share my experiences with others.
ASJ: How did you first get involved in Bhutan?
TS: In 2000 I did the Raid Gauloises in Tibet and Nepal, an expedition adventure race, just like Eco Challenge. The event started on the Tibetan plateau, went over the Himalaya into Nepal and crossed the country, finishing on the border Indian border. We traveled by mountain bike, hiked, rafted, canyoneered and canoed the course, navigating with compass, maps and an altimeter. The event sparked an interest and a love affair with that region and soon after finishing I began research for another adventure in the area.
I could find hardly any information about Bhutan, which only made me more curious. I started networking and reading more and realized I couldn’t just drop into Bhutan and take off with a backpack and a mountain bike. They are very savvy about preserving their traditional culture as well as their natural environment so have some of the strictest tourist regulations in the world. Eventually, a friend of a friend managed an introduction to the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) which led to an endorsement from the president of the BOC, who also happens to be a Royal Prince. That moment set off a chain of events that radically altered the course of my life. I’ve been to Bhutan five times now for a total of eight months.
TS: I fell in love with Bhutan even before I arrived here, after reading the Lonely Planet Bhutan guide book cover to cover. Bhutan is spiritual, remote, unusual and highly traditional. Their decisions around power and governance and political creation of social values amaze me. The 4th King abdicated his throne to his son, the current king, and changed the the government from a Monarchy to a Constitutional Monarchy (half monarchy, half democracy). They’ve successfully married “church and state” and calibrate the progress of their culture by Gross National Happiness, which measures things like forest cover, infant mortality and women’s literacy. They have very few tourists, which makes the journey of every visitor special. These changes and innovations are refreshing in a world of political greed and power-hungry leaders.
When my plane landed for the first time in Bhutan, tears steamed down my face and part of me felt like I had arrived home. A dear Bhutanese friend says I must have lived here in a past life. I’m not certain about reincarnation, but something definitely clicked for me. To truly know Bhutan is to develop a relationship with the culture, which happens slowly over time and is not to be rushed. Maybe that’s why I feel compelled to come back, again and again.
TS: The Second Annual International Marathon is opportunity for Bhutanese athletes to race alongside athletes from around the world on their own turf, while inspiring and developing fitness and health in Bhutan. In the First Annual International Marathon, four of the fastest five runners were Bhutanese. Which is an incredible source of pride for them. We have over 65 international participants this year, double what we had last year. These athletes, from all over the world, will experience a remote, tranquil, well organized event in an iconically beautiful and culturally spiritual place on the planet. Hard to beat that!
ASJ: What’s next for you?
TS: I’ll be coming back to Bhutan this fall to help with another BOC event, Tour of the Dragon (tourofthedragon.com), a 268K one day mountain bike event—arguably one of the toughest one day biking events in the world. Afterwards I’ll stay and do the Snowman Trek through northern Bhutan, 26 days of strenuous hiking in one of the most remote regions in the world. While I am in Bhutan, I’ll also be teaching running clinics and supporting various other events for the BOC. I’m offering tour packages for both of these adventures (http://terrischneider.com/bim/home/) to support the BOC.
I’m writing my next book right now, an anthology of adventure stories each with an introspective twist. This book will highlight a big handful of adventures I’ve done pre-Bhutan. I’m chewing on three other book ideas, one of them about Bhutan.
I continue to love coaching and consulting endurance athletes – I am giddily inspired when people step out and challenge themselves. I’m always busy with additional writing projects and ongoing speaking engagements. And this summer I’ll be spending time in the Sierra, fast packing and doing