Wednesday 10 March 2010

stage 2 - Slot Canyons

I slept well last night, and was looking forward to todays stage.  I remembered the course well, so knew I had to start fast and get ahead of the main pack since the course narrows when it goes into the river canyon.  Then for the next 5 miles we cross the same river more than 20 times.  The canyon walls closed in at one point and we waded down the river for a while.  After CP1, there was a big climb up an old mining road through a 200m pitch dark tunnel bored through the mountain.  As I went through I hoped there wasnt another earthquake or aftershock.  There were some rocks and boulders on the floor in there, but not related to the quake I imagine.  After the tunnel the climb went up more steeply to join a ridge.  The climb continued then undulated along the ridge for a few K, then a 200m sand dune descent which was a lot of fun; especially since I tried to ride down it on my sleeping mat.  It wasn`t wholly sucessful but raised plenty of laughs.  After CP2 the temperatures cooked up and the terrain was very sandy and miserable to be honest.  After CP3 the terrain improved and I knew the distance to camp was longer than it was supposed to be, from last years experience.  I alernated between running a couple of K, then marching some.  I used up all of my food on the stage, and had been using all of the water I had taken.  I arrived at every CP empty.  I could do this only because I knew the stage so well.  I finished the last section well in a total time of 6hrs 57.  GPS indicates the stage was around 44k, a couple more than advertised.  I finished in 29th position.  Tomorrow's stage is supposed to be very tough.  I only got to CP2 last year when the medics withdrew me, so my insider knowledge of the course ends half way through tomorrow.  I know there are some mud and salt flats ( not flat!) and a lot of sand dunes at the end of the stage.  I pushed today, but didn`t run myself into the ground.  My feet are still in good nick, but I will get some battle damage tomorrow.  The place I got the big blood blister last year has never been the same since, and that is looking likely to blister tomorrow.  I`ll wrap it up tomorrow morning and hope for the best.  Other than that, it`s all good.  Joasia in my tent has won the womens stage again today, by a huge margin.  Very impressive, since she`s never done a desert marathon ever, though she is a pretty mean marathon and mountain marathon runner (and champion).  Diana, also in our tent is still in overall second place I think.  James, Ian and Jack all had a good day coming in in higher places than yesterday.  Everyone in my tent is doing well.  I had a couple more emails today, so thanks for those.  Time to go rest up for stage 3.

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