Hello my dear friends.
Your blog comments and emails are a true lift to my spirit!! I have completed the 100km stage and have reached the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. After i wrote my last blog (on stage four) horror and devastation hit the camp as competitors were stuck in the canyon dehydrated and in a very poor state. All of the competitors who were at camp were in a frenzy of fear as we received news that a man had curled into a corner. After volunteers and medics started to head up the steep dunes to see what was happening I sat on my own and remembered that what we all do out here can be extremely dangerous. Since that moment we have heard little news about the young American who was rescued by a camel and sent to hospital . There is a lot of anger around the camp due to the lack of communication on the issue. The latest news is that he is still unconscious and I spent much of my race yesterday thinking about him and his family. A few other competitors emerged from the canyons over 9 hours after I finished and as they stumbled to the finish line every competitor got out of their own nooks to applaud their tremendous efforts in the unforgiving heat.
We were told that we would start the long march at 6am so most of us woke around 4am and as I started to eat my breaky and down my water we are told that we may as well go to bed because we are not going to leave till 8am. Obviously everyone else gets a bit frustrated as our bags are already packed and the breakfast we have eaten was wasted as the energy/calories will not take us through to the afternoon. I plop down on the concrete and shut my eyes for another hour dressed in my gear and shoes on.
8am comes and Lisa & I stick together at the start line and rev each other up with game face eyes. We start by heading down to the river and across an unstable bridge into bamboo & river crossings. Lisa and I wanted to run for as long as the weather and course permitted and took on a very very slow shuffle. A group of 20 of us have to stop about 4kms before the first checkpoint because the course markers have been taken away by the children in the village. Route rediscovered we head into the checkpoint and head on a road through the village for approx 12 kms. My race now becomes the march of the women and Lisa & I are joined by Fiona & Amanda with Linda just in front of us. Lisa wanted to stay in a team of two due to practicality towards the end of the race. We go into checkpoint two all together but Lisa and I quickly get our new supply of water and electrolytes into our bottles and shoot off. We managed to get a good distance between us and the other girls and we chug along through rocky, sandy and salt encrusted ground for another 10kms. We never took off the pedal to our slow but steady shuffle and people started to remark at our consistency. I started dryreaching a few moments before hitting checkpoint three and grab some anti nausea tablets from Dr Grant before going to checkpojnt 4. I see Danish runner Jimmy who was reduced to a slow walk due to blowing out the night before.
The next checkpoint went pretty much the same as the first three and we meet the volunteers with the announcement that the mandatory one hour has been removed because the weather is cool. Happy about the good weather but disappointed about not getting to stop we hit checkpoint 5 and give ourselves a five minute break. Fellow competitor and friend Ricky Paugh is at the checkpoint and is in all sorts of trouble and I am not sure if he will be able to finish. Leaving the checkpoint I felt pretty awful and Lisa headed off a few steps in front of me as I worked through my own pain and inner turmoil. I pepped up with 5kms to go and we pick up our pace and start to chat about running stories, our men and future projects together. Getting into the checkpoint we find out we are in 21st position and equal 2nd placed women= big wow.
The good times never last long and as we set of on the next 11kms the sun peaks and we start to become delirious. At one stage we find some water and we drop to our knees wailing and put our bodies in the water (nb: we are approx 60kms into the race at this stage). We pull ourselves together and but quickly realise the stage is not 11kms and the motivation fades and the pain sets in. Lisa grabs my hand and we run the final two kms this way- sniffling, wincing, sweating and praying for the checkpoint. We final make it there and I collapse to the ground as I cannot hold myself up. The medic team give me some more anti nausea tablets and I try and eat some mashed potatoes and noodles. The medic tells me I have to stay at the checkpoint for longer, so I quickly compose myself, smile & pretend that I feel fine. As I leave the checkpoint I start to throw up but continue moving “with a purpose. We run through another village where people try to sell us coke and watermelon. Lisa and I desperate for both of those things we decide not to because we would incur a time penalty. Again I am the nuffty as I later discover that a lot of people enjoyed these sweet delights and it gave them new found energy to continue. We are 80kms into the race at this point and the shuffle has now become a walk and as darkness falls we struggle to find the pink markers.
We make it to the last checkpoint and it is now completely dark and we have close to no energy. We have maintained the same position in the pack so decide to move on. The last 11kms were close to the worst experience of my life. The glow sticks are near to none and/or very difficult to follow. It takes us three hours to get across to the road and up the very tough steep sand dunes into camp. There were times when we I would hit the sand ground and almost think it would be easier to sleep there or die. Slightly dramatic in hindsight but those thoughts really went through my mind.
We get into camp around 1:30am, in equal 23rd place and equal 2nd female across the finish line for the day. No one else was in my tent when I got there but they came in drips and drabs and there were great pride and respect shared around between us.
It is 4:05pm and we are still waiting for people to come in. The heat is unbearable today and I don’t think I could have gone in this heat. I cannot sleep because the heat is like a hairdryer on high. I am decked in my hot shorts and wearing my bivy as a top- very survivor style. All of our water is boiling hot and it is close to 50 degrees right now.
We have 22kms tomorrow and I think they may be rethinking the course and distance due to the heat.
Love to everyone. I cannot wait to cross the finish line but I am even more excited to come home.