I woke up this morning and it was too cold to get out my sleeping bag….so it took me a while to get going.
I was strapping up my pack next to my tent and heard 10, 9, 8…. I made a dash for the start line and we were off.
We started off running through what looked like “ploughed fields of coral”…. very slow moving, crunchy underfoot and now and again my foot would get swallowed by the “coral” leaving cuts on my shins. After 5km I moved onto an open stretch of road and it was nice to stretch the legs out again before reaching checkpoint one. The next stretch to checkpoint two was a mixture of single track and sand dunes, I was feeling good and at checkpoint two I thought I was going to be in for a short and easy day.
I was very WRONG…the entire next section (10.5km) was over “ploughed coral fields”…this is a mixture of hard packed mud and salt – ideal for twisting ankles. The going was slow moving but loads of fun and I got to the last checkpoint feeling great and my legs were feeling strong.
It was 11.5km to the finish but it felt like 111kms…it took me 01:35 to get through a mixture of sand dunes and rock shelves….very slow!! It kept getting hotter, the sand kept getting softer and I was having serious sense of humour failure….what was taking so long!? I eventually crossed the finish line feeling exhausted but glad it was over…
To my surprise I was over an hour ahead of the second placed competitor…Apart from the last 5km of the race I felt really comfortable and my legs seem to be feeling a bit stronger. With the long stage lurking around the corner this is a good thing!
I was asked the question what I thought was the hardest 4 Desert apart from Antarctica…My answer after today is Atacama! It has got the hardest bits of Gobi, Sahara and more! But this is by far the most beautiful desert and the scenery is insane when I get a chance to take it in.
Thanks to everyone for your Birthday wishes and messages of support!