I always find that day 1 is one of the hardest stages of the race and this day was just like that. We headed off at 7am and the day was broken into four stages – 9, 10.7, 9.9, 7.4. In the two other RTP races I have entered it is always super cold in the morning and competitors stand around the fire trying to warm up. This morning it was pretty warm at 6am and it got progressively hotter and probably peaked at 45degrees.
Unfortunately I cannot give you a description of various terrain as we ran on sand, sand, sand and more sand. I headed out at a slow to medium pace and managed to run most of the first checkpoint. There were three medium sand dunes and the sand was relatively soft. The poles were quite a help and I truly felt like I had four feet as I scrambled my way to the top. Cass (my sister) was a volunteer at the first checkpoint and it was definitely motivation knowing that she was there.
CP1 to 2 was alot slower and I was struggling with my breathing a bit. There were no hills but I think mentally I started to realise that I am running on sand all week and BOY is it tough. I didn’t wait at the checkpoint long just enough to pour water on my head and fill up my bottles.
CP2 TO 3 was probably the toughest section of any RTP race that I have ever done and unfortunately I was alone for the whole time. I couldn’t see people ahead of me or behind me and I have now made the decision never to put myself in that situation again. Racing in a desert is tough enough and I think you need the support of your fellow competitors – and having there presence around you can pull you out of a funk. I managed to run in the final checkpoint and I was very relieved to have ticked off day 1 of the Sahara Race.
There are already a few competitors who have pulled out. One includes the famous Jack Denness who I spent some good QT with before the race started. He is a true legend of desert running and I am sad that he wont be here to complete the race. My friends Sandy and Col are still on the course at it is already 6:30pm. They will definitely get in before the cut off period but I am sure they will be quite exhausted when they arrive back to camp. Cass is heading back on the course to put out some glow sticks so they can navigate there way back to camp. Another Four Desert grandslammer Tremaine had a tough day with his very injured knee. He is one of the most determined men I know… I just stopped writing this blog for a moment as Tremaine came up to me and said that he has decided to pull out of the race. This is pretty shattering news and anyone who has done either of the Atacama and Gobi will know why this is so. Miss Emma Fergurson (also Gobi competitor) is walking around in her pink crocs right now with blisters that are worse that what she had in Day 5 in Gobi- which means they are AWFUL.
So to sum up today. One can never underestimate how tough a day marked as ‘moderate’ can be. I feel I have a new found perspective for this race and at such an early point. Tomorrow is supposed to be one of the toughest days terrain wise and I fear more victims will fall to the Sahara Desert. The night plan is to shovel some more food into my mouth and be in bed before 8pm.
Love to all of my wonderful family and friend. I know the St Kilda lose is terrible news for my Uncle Pete and all I can say is I am happy you were able to spend some time in Queensland away from the bogan Collingwood supporters.
Hello to the Houston trailrunners- Dino, Mariella, Mary, Larry and everyone else. Great to hear that you are following the race!!
Big love to my lovely boyfriend, really wish you were here.
Think cool thoughts