Stage 1 (Atacama Crossing)

Hola…

Wow, the first day was tougher than I thought. Luckily most of the other competitors thought so as well. The 35kms were broken into four checkpoints and at each checkpoint we were given another 1.5litres of water.

I woke up at 5:15am not able to sleep any longer as I was pretty nervous about the race starting (thinking of you Sandy as you will be the earliest of risers when you do the Sahara). As we packed our bags for the final time a Chilean band was playing around the camp fire. It was pretty freezing last night and this morning as we were up in altitude. As I waited on the start line I couldn’t feel my toes. The gun went off at 8:15am and 150 competitors all went off!! Despite my conservative approach I wanted to make the most of the flatter ground and I started running at a pretty slow yet steady pace. Within the first 3kms I followed all of the runners ahead of me and went the wrong AND longer way (probably about 1/2 km, which is a lot when you are running 35kms). About 30 people passed me and I rejoined the group as we were about to make our way up a big hill. I met up with my running mentor Linda Quirk and we had a quick chat before I power walked off to make up some ground.

The first 10.8kms were marked as difficult and i finished it feeling pretty good. I walked most of it but at a very solid pace- 9.30 minutes per km. The second checkpoint of 10.7kms were also pretty comfortable. I managed to meet up with the female Chilean team and we slowly jogged into the checkpoint together. Lyndal (Daniel’s Mum) is a medic in the race and was waiting at checkpoint two. It was great to have here there and she told me that Gareth and Daniel were coming it 30th= wow. Checkpoint three was supposedly 10.2kms but it felt a whole lot longer and it was by far the toughest section of the course. The course notes stated it was 6.1km downhill on a compact surface and 4.1 km over compact track. Hmmm not a very good description and it ended in a 5km hill. I was walking a solid pace over the rocky rocky ground with a guy from Ireland and the States. They were great guys to run with but after 5 or 6kms I couldn’t keep up with them – no way my short legs could match their long stride. I was in quite a bit of pain at this point, my water was running low and I couldn’t get any food into me. It was 34 degrees outside and I managed to catch up to two other females who were also feeling nauseas. I was not able to talk to any of them and tried desperately to put one foot in front of the other. I was a minute or two ahead and decided to relieve myself on the track- so much water I had consumed. I thought I would have a little privacy but my legs locked up and the other girls had caught up and I was shouting my apologies as I couldn’t get my shorts back on. It is funny how quickly normal privacy, modesty and decency get thrown out the window when you do one of these things.

Finally making it into checkpoint three where I grabbed some water and refused the lovely offer of a seat before the final 3.5kms. I headed off before my legs locked off and attempted a feeble run. In the end I walked most of the last few kms and did the occasional shuffle. Despite being a little ahead I stopped for a girl from the States and an Irish guy and we crossed the finish line together. 6hours 6 minutes- placed 68th/150 and equal 7th female.

Have tried to have a little rest since coming into camp but starting to feel a bit dehydrated now. Need to smash some water and eat my dehydrated meal.

Daniel finished 34th. Very proud of him and also surprised that my 98% running only has me 45 minutes behind. It appears that solid and consistent walking or very slow jogging will get you through this race in a decent spot. Some people have pushed themselves pretty hard today and may pay for it tomorrow.

Fingers crossed I am not too sore tomorrow as I will be hitting 42.8kms and it will be an extremely difficult terrain.

Love to all

Samantha xx

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