|The "desert proper" i.e. cold nights!|
We were getting into a morning routine now of putting headtorches on, trying to make breakfast (I was glad I'd brought packets of muesli and milk powder as well as porridge as hot water was not always forthcoming) and then packing up in the dark, while stripping down to running gear as late as possible.
|With company early on in the day|
Another briefing (or rather an inaccurate account of the distances to the water stations), some banter (so much so that I was actually facing the wrong way and chatting to Colin, a fellow Scot, when people started running) and we were off.
|No sunglasses in the morning light|
|Along the ridge of a dune|
|On the 4WD track|
|Picking out the firmer sand|
|Another dune? Lovely!!|
This was because the route from this checkpoint (into the final 7k, which was actually more like 10k, so explaining how I'd apparantly made CP2 so quickly) went straight up a large soft done, which was clearly impossible to run up. As I finally plodged (hands on knees and push) my way to the top, I came across a photographer trying to direct me over the edge of some other dunes to run and jump to create some good pictures. I kindly declined and continued towards the flag I'd spied up ahead.
After a few kms of soft sand, we popped out onto a surfaced road. Anyone who knows me would have thought that I would have jumped for joy at this, but I think I was too tired for that. The road seemed to last for ever....mainly in a straight line, but winding up and down so that distant runners ahead came into and out of sight.
Due to the late notice for my participation in the event, I'd had to borrow some shoes (with gaiters attached) from my friend Jo. Although I thought the extra shoes size wouldn't matter too much as my feet would probably swell, there was a gap slightly in front of the gaiter attachment where sand could get in, and so the front of the shoes seemed to take in half of the desert. This meant that my toes would bang against sand every step which wasn't exactly pleasant.....and I even found myself seeking out softer, sandier bits of road rather than the old sealed sections.
|Having crossed a rather isolated finish line!|
Camp was down the other side of the dune and so, as we were there ahead of most of the camp being set up, it was again nice to chill in the one communal tent that had been erected, and chat to some of the faster runners who'd been there awhile (including Greg from my tent, and the very speedy Russian lady Natalia, along with Evgenie from the Ukraine.......though we joked about Natalia's temper flashes when the wind blew sand into the tent, or the poles looked like they were about to collapse).