Saturday 10 October 2009

Atacama and the Kalahari

First off, the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon 2009 has just concluded in South Africa. I took part in this last year and came 6th overall. This year saw there biggest field ever of over 70 runners compete in this there 10th birthday special. I had quite a lot of friends running. This race is getting very popular it seems. I expect it will get book up fast for 2010. I'd recommend everyone head over to the website and take a look at this years stories, photo's and videos. I wish I was there, but with my knee operation only 6 months ago, my recovery is still a work in progress. Some days my knee feels fine, then other days, just walking causes some "twinges".

My training has been decimated by a new job that I have. I ran just twice this week, about 6 miles on each occasion, 80% on the road. I managed an hour yoga session and a hour and quarter gym session too. I expect this pattern to stay the same for at least 2 more weeks, then hopefully I will be able to pick up my long weekend run again.

To give myself a shot in the arm I've provisionally signed up for the Atacama Crossing 2010. You'll remember I was taken out on day 3 this year with an aggressive cellulitis infection, that resulted in me being hospitalised back home as well. I also had food poisoning for the whole time, as well as the torn meniscus of my knee. So, all in all, it was a disaster. I want to take part in next years race to "tick it off". However, my participation very much depends on work allowing me to do so. If the project I am on has a lull at that time, maybe I'll be allowed the time off. All I can do is train towards it and hope for the best. Believe it or not, it is just 18 weeks away, a little over 4 months. So, I need to jumpstart my training.

I need to get in as many events on a Saturday as I can, and ideally get in a 40 or 50 mile ultra in either January or early February. The Atacama Crossing has been moved forward a month this year, to early March. This may make the evenings (and I assume the days too) slightly warmer.

I've taken a look at my kit list tonight and done a first pass of being more ruthless. I've stripped out some things, and some food, and am currently looking at a 7.3kg pack without water on the start line. I want to go as lightweight as I feel able to, and get each stage over as quickly as I can; if I can get it under 7kg that'll be ideal. I don't want a week of 8 or 9 hour days. The altitude is debilitating over there, and the terrain is nasty. No one is storming out fast short days, but finishing an hour or two earlier would be a blessing. Loosing pack weight is the best place to start, after you address your fitness. I'm going to train smart, if not long. I can't get a lot of miles in, so it's going to have to be quality training sessions. Sessions designed to boost fitness. I won't train with a backpack at all, except when I do events at the weekend that require a minimum amount of kit, which shouldn't weigh more than a few kilos.

I need to get my knee back to normal. It'll never be 100% again, but I'm going to get it as close as I can. I'll see if I can put myself a rough training programme together this week. I want to be fitter than I have ever been before, for any event ever. It's going to be a long hard winter of training ahead, but I'm not shy of training hard when I have a goal. I'm targeting a top half of the field finish as a minimum, any better is a bonus. I have a few advantages in that I know what the terrain is like. Some of the routes may be the same, which doesn't offer an advantage in speed, but I might remember when the next checkpoint is coming. I hope the route marking and distances are tightened up this year, as some of those were a long way out in the 09 event. It's hot in the Atacama, but nothing like the Kalahari or Sahara. It is manageable. The altitude is the big factor, as I said, and there is nothing I can do about that. Just suffer it like everyone else. I'm not about to go out there 3 weeks early to acclimate to the altitude, I can't afford it, and I won't have a job to go back to! So, that's where I am, the start of the next desert race chapter.

Have a good week!


  1. Go for to Rich, I imagine you will be able to regain your fitness levels and surpass them fairly quickly. I'm sure you will blast through the Atacama next time!

  2. Softly softly catchee monkey.

    Good luck!