Monday 8 March 2010

Race day 1 - 35KM

We all got to camp and I spent a fairly cold night at 3260M.  I didn't get a lot of sleep.  Maybe 3 hours on and off.  Still it was enough.  The Race briefing confirmed that apart from a change to the firdt 10k, the rest of the stage was the same as last year.  The race started, 147 made it to the start line I think, and I really suffered with the altitude even the first mile was downhill.  I decided to take it easy.  I wasn't feeling great, with memories of last years disaster haunting me.  I even saw some of the places I was sick last year.  There was then a gradual 4 mile mile which I alternated between running with short walking breaks on the bigger slopes.  I was well down the field at this stage, certainly in the last 30%.  I got to CP1, filled up my bottles, and headed out on the rollercoaster hills.  I passed another place I was sick last year and then realised I was feeling good.  The altitude was now having less of an effect on me I think.  I saw a long drawn out trail of people in front and as the ground levelled out, out my foot down.  I started to pick off single people, then a few people running in two's and small groups.  I ran across the plain and into a sandy river canyon where I remembered suffering so badly last year.  I ran it all this year, then out accross a stony plain to CP2.  I only took 1l of water again, risking a lower ration for speed.  I headed out for 3 miles accross the plain passing a few more people, and then got to a gap in the cliff where I knew there was the toughest section, a torturous 3 milrd climb up a canyon.  I had caught up a similarly dressed (head to toe in white) competitor and we set a mean marching pace up the climb, which seemed endless.  I ran out of water a mile before CP3 but I was well enough hydrated, despite the increasing temperature.  We made it into CP3, and I drank half a litre of water, but only took half a litre with me for the last section.  I ran on alone determined to cover the last section quickly and try and chase down some competitors I could see in the distance.  I last section was just 4k but I pulled back some more places, crossing the finishing line in 5:09 I think, in 31st place. I think the stage seemed to be about 36.5km by my measurement.  I'm more than happy with that performance anyway.  It's better than I expected and some given the quality of the field.  Joasia and Diane in my tent came in 1st and 2nd ladies in great times.  In fact all but one of our tent of 8 people came in the top 50! I'm clearly amongst serious athletes. Everyone in the tent is great, we are having some great banter. This stage took me over 7 hours last year, of course I was very sick.  So, ghosts laid to rest for stage 1.  Tomorrow it's 10k worth of water crossings then a killer climb and ridge walk, before a big sand dune descent and reasonably flat second half.  I've flogged myself today, so I'll take it a little easier tomorrow and make sure I have enough in the tank for the rest of the week.  Thank you everyone who has sent me messages so far.  I only read them after the end of stage 1.  I'll read the next lot same time tomorrow I guess.  Speak to you after stage 2 - 42km (roughly).


  1. Good effort for Day 1, Rich. As you say, ghosts laid to rest. Keep it up!