Phew… TeamSG are in Leh and a new found calm energy has overcome us all. We had an incredibly hectic few days in Delhi, which we amazing but I was craving sleep, good food and a view of the magical mountains around us. Crewmember Jim Serpless (aka Jimbot or Moneybags) met me in Malaysia and we took the journey to India together. It was the smoothest check in, flight and arrival I have had in a long time. Once there we were quickly amongst the insane traffic of India where drivers don’t believe in lanes, speed limits but definitely embrace the beeping of the horn. Our taxi driver spent most of the journey driving down the side of the road where a few cyclists were.. A few hairy moments but we arrived at the hotel to meet up with the rest of the crew – Sarah Holloway (aka Mom), Nic Davidson (aka Rexi), Ryan Bennett (aka RB or Guts). After communicating about this race for so long via email, phone and skype it was a great moment to finally all be together.
Getting to bed after midnight we were woken at 5am to head to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. A seven-hour journey later we are making our way through the heated and colourful crowd to look at one of the wonders of the world. A trip to India let alone New Delhi would be incomplete without making this trip and we all felt very lucky that we were able to fit it into the busy acclimatisation and race schedule. Once again we were back in our beds well after midnight and was woken at 5am to be involved in a La Ultra community event called “Running with the Elite”. It was a pretty bizarre notion to me as I am certainly not elite, in fact I am by far the least experienced runner taking part in this challenge. Around 60 or 70 runners from Delhi turned up for a 15km run through the city with us and I was in shock as they came up to me and shaking my hand as if they knew me. They in turn were in shock about my size and kept remarking that I looked like a child and they didn’t know how I would complete the 222kms with my frame. The run itself was a pretty special experience. We were running around the city, something you would never normally do if local runners didn’t guide you through the traffic and streets. The heat was pretty suffocating and we ended the run like drowned rats by the end. I felt happy that I had spent that weekend in the humidity in HK as the temperature or high humidity wasn’t really an issue for me.
The day didn’t end there and our crew went to the supermarket and had a massive stock up of all of the supplies we would need for Leh and the race. We were in foodie heaven and lucked out with the cheap prices for great products. Lets just say that TeamSG won’t go hungry in the mountains. Last on the agenda for the day was a group briefing, which involved a series of interviews, and photo shoots. The photo shoots were ridiculous and half of the runners were in dresses and the photographer was asking them to do exercise poses.. By the end of the night we were all quite flustered and pretty tired as we needed to pack for our flight to Leh and our wake up call was for 2:30am. Somehow we managed to pack all of our food and gear between all of our baggage – they were busting at the seam. Before we finally hit the hay Guts and I went for a wander through the market. It was 8:30pm and the humidity was still fierce.
2AM – WAKE UP = yuck!! The lack of sleep was starting to affect our group and we were walking around like zombies. Somehow we got our baggages checked in without paying excess fees and before we knew it we were on the plane to Leh. Tiredness to quick amazement as we look at the window of the plane and see the snow capped mountains and the terrain of which the race will be held. This was hands down the best landing I have ever had, it was completely spectacular. The altitude in Leh is 3,500m and we noticed our breath being slightly heavier. Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most militarized borders in the world and you can notice the military presence as soon as you drive into the town.
All of our energy completely changed from the hectic environment in Delhi to the serene setting of Leh. I could tell my voice was softer, calmer, quieter and slower. I am embracing masala tea whilst sitting in the pretty hotel garden. The race director and staff gave us a detailed plan on how they believe we should acclimatize over the next 10 days. We are now in day 2 in Leh and people are already deviating from their plan. Some competitors are going white water rafting today and others are going on the course for runs. TeamSG have decided to follow the race plan as it has been constructed by people who have a far better experience with altitude than any of us do. It is definitely a test in patience which is exactly what we will need to master to complete this race.
So far today we have had our medical consultation – my heart rate is at 67, blood oxygen sats 95%, hemoglobin 14.5, weight 45kg, temperature 96 or 97 = all in all pretty normal for being at altitude. Heading out for a wander in the market soon to pick up a stove and pick up a few nick nacks..
Will check back in a few days!!
Love to all.