What a week it has been! Writing this blog from the Abu Dhabi airport and filled with happiness, exhaustion & a little sadness. Sahara 2010 was an epic race in terms of the adventure. However it has been the people that i have shared this journey with that will make it a race never to forget.
Extreme endurace adventures are bound to bring out the best and worst in people & there has been some special moments on the sandy course. One which will stand out is when Ricky Paugh decided to pull out on Day2. I cant imagine what was going through his mind but as he is sitting at the checkpoint waiting for a vehicle to take him to Cairo he pulls out all of the gear from his pack and hands it out to competitors around him. He even gave his gaiters to female competitor who didnt have a pair.
I gave a brief run down on the long day but here is a few more details. I woke at 4:30am incredibly nervous about the task ahead but focused and determined to stay strong. I had planned the previous night to go out with Dave & Maghnus (Irish lads from my tent). The loose plan was to jog out the first 30kms, shuffle through the heat, push on at dusk and simply survive once it became dark. My amiga Lisa Tamati had been having a tough week and was concerned about whether she could keep up to our pace. I didnt want to put any pressure on her but I remember telling Sevan (Desert Runners camera man) that i just knew we would be running together- as we had in Gobi. Without fail as we trotted out to the first checkpoint Lisa was glued to my hip as were about 10 other runners. It is quite an experience heading out for 94kms and feeling the pressure of a large group of runners who are all trying to keep pace with the pace setter. I was incredibly proud of Sam Wilson and Rich Kimmens who stuck to us till the second checkpoint. The crew of Dave, Maghnus, Lisa and myself had a great system. The boys took care of ensuring we all took electrolytes every 30-45minutes and Lisa and I controlled the pace for the first 1/3 of the race. It wasnt too long till it was just us four plodding through the sand, dunes, rocks and plains. Another Irish runner Shane stayed within 100 metres behind us or just in front of us for at least 75kms of the day.
As we approached a checkpoint situated half way up a dune Dave’s knee gave way and he decided he needed to set his own pace to survive the day. And then there were three. As we descented from a skinny sandy ridge we entered a vast and expansive plain. It was hot and appeared never ending. All of a sudden I was filled with emotion and thought of my Grandmother who passed away a few days before I came out to Egypt. From sadness to liberation I realised she was by my side helping me through one of the difficult and hottest stages of the course, a special moment that I wont forget.
Without boring you with a blow by blow of the whole 15.5hours I will tell you that
1: The companionship of Maghnus and Lisa made the day actually enjoyable and we spent alot of time talking and supporting each other. Maghnus was a true gentleman & helped Lis up several of the dunes & Lis would then pull me up by grabbing my stick.
2: I drank over 15litres of water, 16 electrolytes, a bite of shephards pie (courtesy of Maghnus), dried fruit (courtesy of Lis) and a few lollies. I never went to the toilet as the process of pulling down my shorts seemed unappealing in the heat.
3: We saw a shooting star just before we approached the finish line & the three of us jogged in hand in hand to the hugs of fellow tentmates Malcolm and RB.
The final 2kms to the finish line at the pyramids was great and I am amazed that I am now injury free and nearly home.
Final words are of thanks.
Thanks to RB, Malcolm, Sambot, Maghnus, Dave and Ed. Every desert you bond with people but this goes to a whole new level. After the disasters of day 1 I will always remember how each of you supported me in your own way. I feel privileged and blessed for the week we have shared and cannot wait till 2012-2013 Yukon 430 (Ed’s business card is still in my pocket & I will bring it when we next meet).
Thanks to the best group of sponsors a rookie desert runner could ask for.
– Juice Plus: I think i fought my head cold during the first few days due to the high dosage of JP i was taking!
– CW-X & Ascend: your products are invaluable with recovery and I had no cramping & minimal body fatigue the whole race.
– Injinji & Brooks: No blisters for the whole race!! I am in shock and very happy to have my feet in tact (to the jealousy of many competitors).
– 720Armour: best sunglasses going round. Light & stylish, so much in fact that the mysteriously went walkabout on the final morning. Boohiss.
-Rog: for making my great website. Check it out on http://www.samanthagash.com& please donate to the Royal Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust if you have the capacity.
Thanks to my family and friends. I was very lucky to have my parents at the finish line, my sister volunteering at the race, my ‘Sane Cousins’ following my every step and friends & previous RTP competitors sending much appreciated comments and messages. I couldnt have done it without you all. Big love to Maddog as well xx
Thanks to Sam Fanshawe, Alina Brown, Eric LaHaie & the rest of the RTP crew for putting on a spectacular course which was well organised from start to finish. Look forward to seeing you all in Antarctica.
From hot deserts, to long blogs to impending study lockdown. The task I have given myself this year is massive but one thing I always take away from the desert is the need to put things in perspective. Its all about one step at a time, whether it be in the desert or not.
You will see me back on the blogs in less than a month when I attempt to finish off this challenge
Signing off. xx