STAGE ONE – Getting lost but having a blast doing it.
Hello Family and Friends.
Stage one is over and it was pretty tough going but the sun was out the whole way and I was able to squeeze a look at some spectacular views whilst keeping my eyes firmly on the ground. Just to get the stats of the day out of the way
Elevation gain: 1,306 meters
Elevation loss: 1, 387 meters
Rated: moderate to difficult
Placed: 19th overall, 2nd female
I had a pretty decent sleep heading into the first night except our tents are pretty dodgy. They were obtained (for free) by Coleman – I didn’t even know Coleman specialized in tents 😉 Due to condensation build up it was literally raining inside the tent, but not outside. Our poor down jackets and sleeping bags took a bit of a beating. Unfortunately my diarrhea didn’t go away and I spent half of the morning in a hole in the ground – hopefully you have all eaten breakfast before reading this. I was pretty worried about being dehydrated and not having enough calories in me for the big climbs ahead.
The countdown started and I was running to the start line and pretty much kept going. I luckily worked my way from the back of the field and arrived at checkpoint 1 – (4.6kms in) in decent time. I was running with Stephanie Case (fellow i2P runner) and we had a quick chat before I darted out of the checkpoint and into a STEEP CLIMB. I was super thankful that I decided to take my poles (Thank you DR DAN for the advice) as they felt they were helping to make it slightly easier. Well I thought I was using the poles ok before my tent mate came up to me and reprimanded me for not using them effectively – whoops. With a bit more focus on technique I came into checkpoint 2 (15kms total) as first female and Stephanie Case (superstar) wasn’t in sight behind me. The lovely Andrea Horden was there and it was great seeing her happy face.
The views just got better and better from this point, we were running through villages and some awesome trails. I totally believe in race karma and despite the lactic acid build up I made a big effort to interact with the locals and I definitely was rewarded with their cheers and positive spirit. I even had some young girls running along side me up one of the hills as I was power walking up. Many of the locals looked shocked and even laughed to see a little girl with a big backpack motoring on through after all of the burly, strong and athletic lads just ahead of me.
I had some great running companions at different sections today – tent mate Nico, Sebastian and Gareth; Blair and Tom (from Atacama) and Emmanuel from Antarctica. Despite this I still ended up by myself for a good portion and as I made my way down a LONG STAIR CASE I realised I hadn’t seen a pink marker for a while. I had a little freak out and realised I would need to make my way up the stairs to see where the last one was. Puff, puff, puff I head back up, irritated at myself after having such a good day so far. I was even more worried that I might be lost. It was a good 20 minutes when I was lost and I eventually just started calling out in a little lost voice “is anyone there”. In the midst of this time I answered natures call –afterwards feeling like a terrible person for the little destruction I did away but close to the course (oh dear). Finally a group of people pop their head at the top of the stairs and simultaneously Nico and Emmanuel start to make their way up the stairs saying they too are lost. There was a few minutes kafuffle and then Gareth, Tom, Nico, Emmanuel and I head back down the stairs (again) and make this weird right hand turn up a single track steep and jagged route. I was blindly flowing Nico hoping he knew this would take us to the right spot. It turns out it was a longer route but we eventually ended back on the course and we all pushed the speed down some very technical downhill. Feeling quite lucky that none of us did an injury.
We made it into the checkpoint three (24kms total) and I did the final checkpoint with Tom and Gareth. A guy that was originally in 2nd position but got severely lost came flying past us a little frustrated – fair enough. We finished the day together and I came in second position although I never saw Steph come past me. She must have taken the shorter (probably correct) route whilst I was lost – all part in parcel of these races but gahh I wish the course was marked better. Poor RB had worse luck and was lost three times (twice because of the marking). He did an additional 6kms and came in just after me. Lucky there is plenty of time and tomorrow is a new day.
Our tent did really well and everyone came in within the top 41 (top tent so far – which is even more exciting). We spent a good hour in the freezing cold water recouping our legs.
Similar day tomorrow although a few kms longer. Day three will be a killer climb and day four has endless steps.
Love to everyone back home. Thank you for your lovely comments.