Stage 2 (Atacama Crossing)

Day two was filled with river crossings, massive sand dunes and long crusty flat sections (that  seemed to go on forever).

It was 42.4kms today, just a little over a marathon. I woke with my legs feeling good and with a decent sleep i was looking forward to heading out on the course. I decided the night before to run with Andrea from the United States as she finished in a few minutes before me the previous day. We were all lined up and it started by a rocky downhill where I passed one of my tent mates from Denmark who had an amazing finish the first day but as a result has a knee the size of a watermelon. I found out when I got into camp today that she pulled out of the race and is already on a plane out of the desert. Andrea and I went out at a solid but relatively slow pace and like everyone else (even the top competitors) we walked up the hills. At the 4km mark we hit the first river crossing and i didn’t get too wet. That didnt last long, soon i was waste deep in freezing cold water with a decent current. It required plenty of jumping into the water into unknown depths and clearly my midget status earned me some assistance from a group of UK guys. It was about 8kms of river crossing and despite being quite difficult it was great to vary up the terrain and everyone was in quite high spirits as we went through them.

We then hit checkpoint one where I saw Daniel getting some medical treatment from Lyndal as he lost his sunglasses and then got something in his eye. I made the executive decision to continue on as I knew he would catch me up before long- which he obviously did.

There were several killer moments of the day but the first one was climbing up to a huge ridge which took over an hour. The heat had started to come out and there was little rest from it. My little legs struggled up it but all i could keep doing was put one leg in front of the other. We then had another 1.5hours along the ridge where you literally felt you were on top of the world. Off one edge of the ridge was a massive sanddune which we eventually went down. It was HUGE and AWESOME. Have some sweet mid action pics! Had a mass of sand in my shoes afterwards and my shoes were still wet so I wanted to change my socks and tape up my feet as soon as possible. One of the highlights of the day was seeing Nico at the bottom of the sand dune, it was such a motivation and lovely to see a friendly and clean face. Thank you Nico!!

I stopped at checkpoint two for a few minutes to fix my feet and Andrea & I headed off into a quick march followed by the UK boys. We spent about 90 minutes walking together or alternating the leaders. In the end we left the boys in a tunnel as 1 was vomiting continuously and another guy had horrid blisters. It took another 40minutes to get to the next checkpoint and Andrea and I had caught up a few more people. So last checkpoint was VERY TOUGH despite being pretty flat. The terrain was crusty at some points and sandy at the other. Each step was pretty difficult and I had a internal meltdown for about 2kms which was probably a result of dehydration and a lack of food. At this point we had been out for over 6 hours and all I had consumed was 5 gu chomps and 1/4 protein bar. The heat makes it very difficult to heat and your body starts to rebel from all of the electrolytes even though you need to have them to survive. The last 10.5 kms felt like 20kms and we could not see the finale flags or tents in the distance. Andrea was a legend and slowed down for a few minutes when i felt horrid and i obviously returned the favour when she was in struggle town. It was a great partnership and we spent the last few kms sharing an earphone listening to Elton John “Tiny Dancing”.. The long stretch eventually ended and we trotted into the finish line to the beat of the drums being played.

Summary of the day- tough, wet, beautiful, varied and monotonous. I think i will be feeling it more tomorrow and only hope I can jog some of the 40kms we have tomorrow. Daniel came in about 30 minutes before me and Matt (from Brisbane) came in the top 20 again (legend)!!

Our fellow tent mate, Erica (South Africa) came in 15th today after being wasted yesterday and needed 2 IV saline drips.

This race is epic and despite the constant pain and personal physical and emotional battle I am loving meeting all of the people.

Will be having dinner and heading straight to bed…

Night and love to all.

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