Stage 5&6 (Sahara)

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 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


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