Stage 4 (Atacama Crossing)

Ahhh big thank you for all of the great messages from everyone. It puts such a dile to my smile when i read them. Today was a good day. I completed the infamous salt flat stages in decent time- 8 hour 40 (approx) coming in about 51st. A stack of people have been pulled off the course and our lovely tent mate Diego pulled out this morning before we headed off.

We set off at 8am and I found my race partner Andrea and we set off together. We started by going up 5 or 6 sand dunes which meant a lot of the field were walking up them- they were pretty big (even bigger than the mountains we climbed in Kokoda). My plan for today was to take it quite carefully as I still felt pretty sick this morning. However I set out at a pretty decent pace and pushed Andrea along with me.

I was forcing myself to eat something every hour as I didnt want a repeat of yesterday. After a death defying sand dune climb down we hit a river crossing and i decided to take off my shoes and socks as i dont have any more spare socks to destroy in the salty water. It was such a nice feeling to get my toes wet even though it meant my tape all over my blisters went all mushy.

After a pretty boring and straight lined 14kms I hit checkpoint two and went off into the salt flats. Alot of people were chilling and eating at the checkpoint but my moto is to grab my water and go. You can make up alot of time and keep momentum going this way. It worked well for Andrea and I, we charged through the salt flats which are like rough pieces of coral which smash your toes and feet with every step. We met up with another competitor who continued with us for the final 10kms.

The last checkpoint was pretty cruisey (only 6.7kms) and flat surface= sweet. I took off my shoes at the finish line and I have to say the site is not that pretty. Blisters everywhere and they have had to drill my two pinky toenails as i have blisters underneath them. However I am in incredibly high spirits.

We head off tomorrow for 74kms, the long stage. I have organised my food by swapping with some other people!!

Just a quick brief on our tent mates. We have Atacama Mumma from South Africa and she is absolutely amazing. She is in her 40s and is coming second in the female race. She looks after everyone in the tent and has pearls of wisdoms (she also has no blisters on her feet). Note to Sandy and Col: she won the sahara female category last year. We have Matt from Brisbane (23 years old) and doing amazingly, coming in about 20th. Daniel and Gareth are obviously superstars and had another solid day coming in the early 30s. Janelle is 24 and from the states and is having a pretty tough time. Her feet are completely swollen and she wanted to cut off her shoes as she cant fit her feet in them. Martin from Chile is a pretty quite lad but also coming in the early 30s…. So thats us…

Ive had some dinner, about to drain my blisters and go to bed ASAP. A bit nervous for tomorrow but aware that this race is nearly over….

Dad: Im impressed with all of your painting and understand that your bite must have been very painful 😉 Mum: Though it will be over three months till i see you I am looking forward to salad with ravioli and watching some trashy dvds with you. Cassandra: I know i still owe you money, woops… will do a transfer when i get back to Santiago (love you lots). Ian: Thank you heaps for following the race and your sweet words.

PS. At this point I am coming 1st in my category (female 18-29) and 5th female over all.. Alot can change tomorrow however!!

Night and love. xx

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