I'll post this now, since I'll have a busy few days working ahead of my flights out to Chile later this week.
Almost 1 year has passed since the Atacama Crossing 2009. You can read the whole story from the link on the right of the page. The short version is that I got sick the night before the race, contracted Cellulitis and the medical team withdrew me half way through stage 3 as the infection started to spread. I ended up on IV's, and antibiotics for 2 weeks, and was still hospitalised when I got back to the UK. I had a unrelated knee operation 3 weeks after that, having delayed it intentionally, despite daily knee pain and problems for the previous 6 months. After surgery I had to take almost 3 months off running completely, and my recovery took 6 months to feel considerably better. My knee will probably never be 100% again, but it's a lot better than it was. In October 09 I created a training plan that I've stuck to very well. I did all the events I said I would, and hit more or less every training session. In the last 4 months my fitness has continued to improve in both short and long distances. My final goal was achieved yesterday (see previous post) when I ran sub 20 minute 3 mile. So, I know I am fitter than I have ever been in my life. A fast 3 mile time seems a world apart from running 250km in 6 days, but I'm convinced that it means I am fitter. I think the speed sessions are more useful than just going out and running 10 miles a night for the sake or it. I can't provide you any proof, but it seems to work for me, judging by my recent improved times on LDWA events. I had a few worries a month ago, but the comforting knowledge that I am have completed the long day distance of 46 miles (see links on the right) just a few weeks ago, and my short distance speed is peaking, means that those fears have gone.
I have no significant niggles or injuries that I am concerned about. I am as fit as I can be. I have no excuses for failure. I'm not planning on plodding along at the back of the field. I want to try and do as well as I can. I'd really like to come in the top 50%, but you know what, I'd take a finish in last place commando crawling over the finish line, dragging bloodied stumps behind me if I had to. So, I'm going to stay within myself, within my own capabilities but push when I feel able. I'm trying to make myself look forward to the infamous day 4 salt flats, the killer stage by all accounts. I'm not worried about stage 5 (the 46 miler). I want to get to day 4 feeling good, get to the edge of those salt flats and cross that horrendous 8 miles as quick as I can. Most people will spend 3 hours or more in there in the sharp crusty nastiness where you can break through and sink up to your knees or worse in salty water. I'm going to do my damn hardest to run as much of them as I can. It looks more or less impossible to run, but I'm going to relish the challenge trying!
I've got a very positive attitude towards the race now. I know some of what to expect, so that gives me some comfort too. So, all my preparation has gone well, but Chile has just suffered one of the biggest earthquakes recorded, as you all know. It's a very sad event, and I thought the event would get cancelled. However, RTP have said the race will go ahead, the Chilean authorities are keen for it to go ahead apparently. RTP intend to raise funds for the victims, so I'm sure we'll all help. Getting to San Pedro could be the secret first stage of the event. RTP have indicated that they may delay the start of the race by 1 day, so the race might start on Monday 8th March, if all competitors have not arrived in time. They still plan to do all 250km and finish on time, which means that the rest day following the long stage would be dropped I assume. Suits me, as rest days are as dull as dishwater anyway. As long as I get a couple of hours sleep, I'll knock out that last 16km stage to the finish line with a spring in my step!
I will send some updates to the blog, hopefully each day. I've posted a link on the right of the page to the Atacama Crossing website. If you choose Race Coverage you can view the Results and send an email to a competitor. It's a drop down list, I'm right near the bottom, 6th up, Richard, if you are feeling the urge to email during the week. It's always appreciated.
I posted my kit list a couple of weeks ago, so I won't do it again. I shaved off some more weight, so I expect to be carrying 6.7kg plus whatever water I carry, anything from 1-2l. If I have issues with customs taking my food then that will change substantially. I shouldn't do. I'll let them take a look at everything and hopefully they'll be ok with it. So, I've gone as lightweight as I can manage with some comforts in an effort to get to camp that bit quicker each day. One final weight saving effort took place just before I ran my sub 20 yesterday - the racing haircut. Maybe it's what gave me that extra speed :) Pictures taken 10 minutes apart.
I'll once again be wearing all white. I'm in full length white camo Skins leggings, and my off-white (2 other deserts to blame for the colour) Raidriders Adventure top (looks like a shirt you could wear with a dinner jacket!). Any increase in speed is my attempts to out run the fashion police (again). So, I think you'll spot me on the photo's.
Last year my 4 year old son was upset when he found out I wouldn't get a medal. He made me one instead.
I'm taking it with me for good luck, and I'll bring him back a real one this time.