I did it!!

Day 1

Nothing can prepare you for the mix of excitement and fear stood at the start line. There are serious athletes here who intend to run the entire event and us mortals who will be satisfied simply to finish

Stage 1 showed us exactly how hard this is going to be, and Matt and I were slow throughout and delighted to make rendezvous at each checkpoint. As odd as this may sound, all I can focus on is 10Km at a time

The excitement of seeing the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto a deserted coast line would be our only highlight of the day where heat fatigue and blisters are all taking their toll and this is only day 1!!

Live to fight another day

 

Day 2

Just arrived back into camp in the knowledge that I couldn’t have given any more Day 2 was going to prove important in so many ways not least a good judge of how well Dan’s conditioning training had faired. Blisters and sore toe nails have set in and the bottom of my left foot split just after check point 3.

Today was a good day where Matt and I were able to put in some running between stretches of power walking and as I lay here recovering I am feeling human again quicker than expected.

The race organisers got the entire camp to sing me Happy Birthday before stage start and then at every checkpoint along the way, lovely surprise.

Hopefully Matt comes in soon buoyed by having competed over 60km of his first race.

Just going to open my birthday card from my wifeand then off to the medics for me!!! Card opened…. Emotional release.

 

Day 3

Today has been a brutal test, respected by theelite athletes and terrifying for everyone else. 25kms of beach running as a start off became a leveller for everyone and as if that wasn’t bad enough, another 8km of beach to checkpoint 3!!

The stage that will become Known as the endless horizon stage 4 even forced the elite runners to walk such was its brutality over rocks for the most part punctuated by loose sand and shale.

True, the beaches were beautiful and the seal colonies were bemused at goings on but on reflection that much sand rendered any sense of expectation worthless and the day became one of survival which brought me to tears as I crossed the line. Matt still out there and a 6.30 cut off to come, fingers crossed!

 

Day 4 The Long March

Today will be the toughest day, made more so by record temperatures of 44 degrees and an easterly warm wind, good luck everyone! Regrettably Matt succumbed to the extreme conditions as to did another 15 competitors. The heat cannot be overstated and back to back 12km stages really tested everyone early in the day. Such was the ferocity of the heat that a record number of competitors took the opportunity to take a well earned break at CP4. Today was gruelling and coupled with extreme blisters it was always going to be test to such extent that I was very

Close to withdrawing myself. Stages that run through the night play tricks with the mind. At every checkpoint I was determined to withdraw but something inside repeatedly said you can’t. We are resting up now as recovery day passes slowly and steaming, as temperatures climb through 40’s again

 

Day 5

Survival is everything at this stage but my chafing has become so extreme that I can nearly stand up let alone move. This in addition to my shredded feet is making even the simplest this impossible. Today was dunes day absolutely the last thing I needed in this state and was prove and endurance that words cannot describe. The pain was incredible but the exhilaration of finishing was immense. As has become the norm Paul Matt and Carlos were at the finish line to meet me greeting me like a champion with drums beating the fellow racers cheering. That said by the time I came in they were happy for me to have arrived safely. I took straight to me bed shivering as my body temperature plummeted

 

Day 6

10k that’s all until an emotional reunion, can’t wait is an understatement!

The ‘invalids’ as the injured have become known started earlier than the main pack and we were royally sent off by the camp at 8.00am for the last excruciating leg of the this wonderful and painful challenge. Based on survival being the only commodity we were all all millionaire by the finish, emotionally drained and physically wretched. The sand dune that was the makeshift finish line was visible for a long time I was just unable to get to it.  Stood atop was Rach willing me in. As I was walking more like John Wayne it was clear to them who I was from a distance and so the tears began to flow. Mine had been artificially held in for days, and now could be released, good to see Sarah and Matt waiting… tears too. Each competitor who ran through     all exchanged brief but knowledgeable moments of admiration of what this event had inflicted on a few and how symbolic its end would be. I know each night during the closing days my rents mates were aghast and how damaged I had become physically but also respected my objective to get to the finish line. The ribbon holding the medal carried much more than its simple emblem- this had been an epic endurance and now it’s over, close that box!

 

People ask, what keeps you going? You draw on the inner things that are important, your family supporting you and willing you on, their photo in my back pack, their faces never far away but also the personal achievement and my inner determination not to give in – I just had to finish and that’s exactly what I did.