Monday 23 March 2009

Atacama Packing list

Before I post my list, just a brief update about today. I'm trying to take positives where I can here. My foot felt marginally better today, in that it doesn't hurt as much when I press into it. That's the first improvement I've had, lets hope that's a pattern forming.

I went to the hospital for the pre-operative assessment, for my knee surgery, to be carried out on 21st April when I get back from the Atacama Crossing. I told the surgeon that the front of my knee (the patellar Tendinosis) has been giving me less trouble, so he's agreed not to include shaving my kneecap as part of the operation, and just focus on removing the torn cartilage. That was a bit of a fib, the patella tendon does still hurt, but he told me the recovery time for shaving the kneecap was 3 months+, and I still live in hope it will go away on it's own once the tear problem was been sorted.

Anyway, the Meniscus cartilage tear is still giving me trouble, it even hurts when I turn over in my sleep! Still, I've put plenty of miles through my legs whilst I have had the tear, and I want to believe this injury won't be a limiting factor to me completing the event. I have to believe that. I was assessed by a nurse afterwards, checking my medical history and suitability for aesthetic. I have requested an epidural, I just can't face a general anaesthetic. I hope the anaesthesiologist will agree to this, I will find out when get back. My Blood pressure was 106/60, which is fine, perhaps a touch low she said. 100% oxygen reading in my blood and a resting pulse of 47. Even I was somewhat surprised at that, since I had been up a few hours already and it was still that low, despite the added stress of the hospital visit. I'm taking a positive there, that I am still pretty fit, despite the lack of training since Christmas. The nurse has asked for copies of my ECG, to show to the anaesthesiologist as I have the "athletes heart" pathology, in that my parts of my heart have enlarged and thickened in response to my endurance training. I have no idea if this affects my suitability for a particular anaesthetic, but they were keen to see the ECG. So, I go in at 7:30am on 21st April. I can't drive for 3 days after the operation, and must stay off my feet as much as possible for 2 weeks afterwards.

I did ask the consultant about my latest foot problem, but he was very busy and not really that interested. He just suggested getting some gel insoles to ease the pressure. I bought some but I'm not convinced.

So, Atacama Packing list.

Here is everything, except my sleeping bag and Thermarest bed roll, which I am airing out.

First my food. I have an almost identical menu every day, just the main meal changes, and the energy bars I eat are various flavours.

The rules state we must have 2000 kcals per day, or 14000 for the week. I'm taking well over that; 17500. The last day, I haven't actually packed a breakfast, I've actually just got a load a snacks, which I may well eat during the other stages if I need more food to supplement the 2900kcals approx per day. I figure I can run 10k on a empty stomach on the last day if I really had to.

I am using 2 Endurolytes (electrolytes) per hour, and the Perpeteum powder also has electrolytes in, as well as carbs. I usually use SIS Go, but the Perpeteum seems fairly pleasant and apparently very easy on the stomach. So food weight total is 4.8kg. Sounds heavy, but I know from past experience I seem to need more calories than people twice my size on these events. I have no fat stores to carry me through. I was weighed in at 65kg today, which is slightly heavier than normal, due to the lack of training I guess. Here are my daily food 'bricks', all vacuum sealed.

We have been warned by the organiser that at the airport Chilean customs officials can be very strict. This could spell trouble. No idea what I'll do if they decide to confiscate my food.

Next, the clothes I am wearing. Everything shown in bold print is mandatory kit.

I am wearing both a compression top and tights, both white, Under Armour. What a picture I'll look. At least I'll be good for comedy value to the other competitors if nothing else. I'm using the standard Raidlight gaiters which just attach to my shoes with an under-shoe strap. No glue, sewing or Velcro this time, that keeps out every grain. I am gambling there is less soft sand in the Atacama. I have heard it gets windy every day in the Atacama, so I'm back using my Wiley X sunglasses that also turn into goggles, courtesy of a snap-on seal. Same socks as I wore in the Kalahari. A pair of Asics, then a pair of Smartwool over the top of them. I'm carrying a few spare pairs of each, as you will see below. I will also be wearing some Leki gloves when I use the walking poles, which I suspect will be often or always in my current state!

Ok, my backpack contents.

Once more the bold items are mandatory, totalling 1.8kg. I'm using an Aarn Marathon Magic 30l pack, for the first time on this event. I can just about get all the equipment inside. I have always previously used a Raidlight R-Light pack, so this will be interesting. I've played around with the settings to try and get it as comfortable as possible, but the jury is out. I'll know by the end of day 1 anyway! No other surprises in the rest of the kit, it is all tried and tested. I've opted for the lightest sleeping bag, rated to 8C, but I have included a PHD minim Ultra vest (150g) rated to -5 that I could supplement if I get too cold at night, as well as the ever-handy bin bag (refuse sack) as an emergency layer of warmth. A hat and gloves you'll note are mandatory too here.

My optional kit weighs in at 1.7kg, so luxury indeed but I want it all. Extra socks, slippers and a Thermarest pillow are my extravagances here, but creature comfort makes the difference sometimes. I've taken advice of past competitors and the Leki poles are coming with me. Even if I was injury free they are recommended due to the many salt flat and river crossings that make this altitude event so tough.

So, my total pack weight on the start line with be 8.2kg, then 1.5l of water on top of that. I'm happy enough with that. I've not done any training with a pack of that weight. I did one run with 5kg a month ago, and that is where I got this foot injury. The weight is a worry, but I have carried it before, so I'm not unduly stressed. Here it is, all packed, bed roll and sleeping bag were inside at this point too. So this is fully loaded, ready to go.

So, that's it. I've not finished packing yet, so I won't have time to post again before I fly out on Wednesday. I arrive in Calama on Thursday, Chile, 3 flights and 29 hours after I take off. On Friday I had planned to go up a Volcano. I hope to still do it, we'll just have to see. Saturday is the admin day. Sunday 29th March the Atacama Crossing starts. I'll make a brief post on how to send me messages of support. I need them more than ever this time. I'm trying to remain upbeat in the face of some injuries, and lack of training that most would consider show-stoppers. You know I'm going to try my hardest to do it. The goal is simply to finish this time. I'm not going to be able to make a good show like I did in the Kalahari, coming came 6th out of 21 starters. If I came last, but completed, I'd be happy this time. I will post nightly updates I hope, to this blog. The next blog post I make will have all the event organiser website details on it.

Speak to you from Chile.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rich, thanks a lot for your advice and good wishes on my blog, I can't believe that two years of preparation are now over and the MdS is nearly here!!

    All the very best for the Atacama, you have had some real bad luck and must be incredibly frustrating but you obviously have a very good basic level of fitness which will hopefully see you through. Sorry I won't be able to send you messages of support (as I'll be in the Sahara!) but looking forward to reading your event report and seeing your photos when you get back!
    Take care