Stage 4 (Gobi March)

So much has happened over the past 18hours it is hard to know where to start. I really hit struggleville last night with the rest of my tent mates as we were camped outside the village and were unable to sleep due to the thousands of flies that were buzzing past us and the goat that made goat noises all night. We were woken up at 2:45am and I sleepily tried to pack my bag but was in a tizz about the throbbing pain that was consuming my knee. As we jumped on the bus I started to have horrible visions of an incredibly difficult day and I made a plan to walk the 36kms. Just before the race started I realised that I lost my sunglasses and I couldn’t hold back a few tears as it all of a sudden seemed impossible to make it through the day. The countdown began and I slowly slowly plodded and discovered it was actually easier for me to run than to walk. There should be no misconceptions of this term ‘run’- my stride was half the distance of what it is normally like and anyone would have passed me if they were running next to me. I did however manage to run all of the first 13.5kms and came through in a decent time. It started to warm up over the second checkpoint and I combined running and walking whenever the terrain would permit. We hit some huge sanddunes and the sand went on and on and on.

A few people sat down at the second checkpoint but I quickly spoke to Dr Grant about my knee (that was wrapped/compressed in Charlie’s dirty sock for yesterday), smashed some water and took a traveller for the road. I passed four or five people in that checkpoint and kept a steady pace as I went along a ridge and descended into the fiery canyon. The canyon continued for at least 6kms and it was near impossible to run due to the sand terrain and narrow width. I started to have visualisations of Ryan Sandes freezer that he has in his house to train for Antarctica and tried to focus on continually having sips of nuun and water. I managed to get close to a guy from the UK and it was a relief to be near someone as I had been on my own for the majority of the race. From the cracks in the canyon I saw a temple in the distance and knew I couldn’t be too far away. I had a final 2kms of steep descent and couldn’t resist running down the sandy path whilst praying that my knee would hold out.

I came into the finish line very overheated but relatively strong in 39th or 40th place. There were 5 other women in front of me today who put in an amazing performance. The competitive edge of me has diminished slightly and my goal is to simply get through tomorrow & hopefully not injure my knee any further. I just had a chat to Jimmy Olsen from Denmark, who has been in the top few competitors, he said he no longer wants to be competitive in this race as it is now simply a game of survival. There are still competitors out on the course and the heat is getting incredibly hot. Apparently today has taken a few casualties who are seeking refuge in the few shady areas of the canyon. I hope the organizers make us head off early again tomorrow, it is going to be brutal.

I have heard that the blogs have been slow to update so I want to thank everyone again for their messages of support.

I have a few family and friend shoutouts today.
1. The Houstoun family: you were my saviours in my final two weeks in Houston and I love it that you are following my race.

2. KBBs: This is a tough adventure my friends and I have images of Mezz and Mel pushing me on from the front and Mickey pushing my butt from behind.

3. Ascend crew: your recovery drink is brilliant and my muscles are 100% every morning!!

Xx Samantha

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