Stage 1 (Gobi March)

Stage one of the Gobi March is complete and we have now ticked off 32kms of this 250k race. All racing the planet grand slammers are in and we are being a great support to each other. The race didn’t start till 9:30am which gave everyone enough time to get a substantial amount of butterflies in the stomach. My poor tent mates didn’t sleep too well as the weather was pretty chilly and the nightime temperature at camp2 is expected to be even colder.

The race was broken into three stages today- 9kms, 8kms, 15kms. The first 9kms were pretty cruisy and I managed to run most of that part. We headed off on a road trail with minimal to no udulations. The scenery was pretty amazing, we are surrounded by snowcapped mountains that appear to be graphically imposed into the background. I took off by myself and did some small talk with a few competitors but generally stuck to myself.

The next 8kms was a little tougher so I decided to walk the majority of that section. I headed off with second place female competitor Amanda but hung back when my walking stride couldnt keep up with her fantastic pace. New Zealand Ultramarathon racer Lisa Tamali caught up to me (yes Matt she caught up to me) and we completed the section together. We came across a feisty bunch of cows and a cow carcas that still had half of its skin over its body. In typical RTP style there was a pink marking flag in its mouth- oh dear.

As I picked up my water and headed off to do the last 15kms I let out a little cry as I saw the mammoth hill that we were about to head up. I am beginning to think I have a mental aversion to hills because when I see them everything in my body freezes up and I start to question my ability to get up them. I let Lisa go off ahead and I got into the Ryan Sandes hill march (crouched over and hands bracing the thighs). It was a toughie and it didnt stop there, the hills kept coming for the remaining 15kms of the stage. Unbelievably tough and I dont think my short stumpy legs are designed to power up these hills. On the flip side I managed to power through the downhill section and remembered the words of Daniel when we climbed down Cerro Provincia in Santiago and it really helped (thanks cutie). A low light for the day is when I came across Anna (Atacama competitor) and she was dealing with the same knee problems that had her pull out of that race. I stayed with her for a little bit and felt her pain when she stumped her foot on a rock which sent enormous pain up her knee. She managed to finish the day but I am unsure if she plans to continue tomorrow.

My competitor shout out goes to Dave O’Brien. He saw me having a little moment at the bottom of a hill and coaxed me with motivational whispers and a gentle push to get up to the peak of the climb. We finished the day together and I couldnt think of a better person to complete day 1 with.

My friends & family shout out goes to Andrea & Mel from Atacama. I thought of you both when I was struggling with the hills and I felt so lucky to have spent time with you in hilly San Fran. Love to you both!!

Goal for tomorrow is to find some inner serenity & calmness before day 2 hills. I need to focusing on not cluttering my mind with negative thoughts, this race is hard enough as it is..

I came in 38th overall and 4th female..

Love to all.
Samantha

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