We started the day at 8am after a brutal cold night camping out on the salt flats. This desert has huge extremes and we are getting both of them.
The long march started out with 16km of salt flats. Mix of crusty trail and nasty craggy hard and sharp salt. Many places all you can do is hike, carefully and try not to blow any ankle. It knocks the wind right out of you.
The next two stages were mix of hard and soft packed sand and I handled ok. Just pushed one stage at a time. It’s amazing how your mindset changes in this day. I judged wanted to get through the first 42km so I could push hard in the last three.
After the end of stage 3 – 32km, we got a surprise, they gave each of us the choice of Coke or Pepsi. Coke it was! Oh man, what a boost! Gave us a good jolt and helped me run a difficult stage four. A mix of sand, salt flats, a giant sand dune and across a windy ridge to get to 42km by 330pm.
The last three stages were flatter and we were all looking forward to them. However, starting stage 5 the winds were gusting 70 mph into our face. I’ve learned in these races just when you think you are in the clear, another obstacle will come your way. The wind persisted for 15 km and slowed us down. I continued to run 3 flags and walk 1 moving at high efficiency, until the wind forced me at time to walk.
I felt good going into the day and after slogging the first 2.5 hours on salt flats I knew I could have a solid finish. So I kept pushing and went for broke.
When you are out there all day you are really managing against the elements, and the heat. You never know when conditions will change or rain will come in.
I decided if I pushed hard I could try and make it in by sunset or close too. After 53km on course at 6pm I gave myself a challenge of racing the sun into camp.
The last stage was beautiful and a lot more uphill than we thought and I ran through a heritage area called the “Valley of the Moons” at sunset. Stunning red and orange hues against the Andes. I took some time to reflect and take some pictures as I rolled through the last stage and essentially the end of the race.
I arrived in camp in just under 13 hours at 9pm, in 27th place, 74 KM under the light of the stars and a head lamp. I didn’t beat the sun, but it put me in a perfect place to view the sunset to finish the race.
Competitors would come in all night until the last one (approx number 150) came in at 930am. 30 people have dropped out due to exhaustion, illness or injury.
We lost one Finn in our tent who sprained his ankle. The other, will terrible blisters made it in and will be joining the rest of us tomorrow for the final 10km run into San Pedro.
There will be Pizza and Beer at the finish line, as well as friends and family. This is a big emotional journey for many people doing the race for many different reasons. There will be people in tears and on their hands and knees at the finish line after accomplishing an audacious goal. I have the hugest respect and admiration for each person who was able to make it through.
After the finish line and pizza we’ll likely hit a shower or three, meet up with our tent mates (who have been first class) for a massive lunch and drinks and get ready for the awards dinner in a local restaurant in the evening. You see a theme. 🙂
Can’t wait to enjoy some amazing local food and wine all week!
Thank you for all the incredible support.
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