I’m on the moon

Saturday morning meant game time. We packed up our bags and headed to the other hotel for the race briefing and check in. It was the first chance we got to check out all the other competitors. The field was packed with experience and very fit people. My top 10 finish is going to be a hard feat to pull off. Some of the other competitors have had far more time to train and far more experience running ultras.
We weighted in our bags, mine was 6.8kg, Mark’s was 8.2kg  and Matt’s was 5.5kg!! He’s going for it this year and is hoping to take out the top title.
After a quick lunch we headed out to the desert on buses. It was a 1.5hr drive to the middle of nowhere. Camp 1 was at 3500mtrs which apparently means there is 1/3 less oxygen than at sea level. That meant day 1 of racing was even more of a challenge. We settled into our tents on the harsh, rocky ground. It is seriously like I would imagine the moon to be. It made sleeping tough and I’m now pleased I added the sleeping mat for a little extra reprieve.
We woke in the morning early and repacked our bags. After a quick breakfast and race briefing for the day, we were lined up at the start line. Mark and Matt next to me and our new British marine buddies there too. Months of preparation and this was it!
We took off at a quick pace. Matt, three other racers and myself set the early pace. We chugged along at 4:45 km pace which at altitude meant we were flying out from the field. Mark was not far behind and he was settling into his own pace. To be in the race and on the road felt amazing. Even though it’s tough, it really makes me realize how much I love this type of challenge. That opinion could change later in the week!!
We flew into checkpoint 1 and I was in 5th place. I screwed up my water fill and ended up coming out of the checkpoint 200mtrs behind the others. I realised it was time to set my pace and I pushed through on my own trying to get the distance done before the heat of the day set in. My legs felt good but I was struggling with the altitude. My breathing was heavy and laboured. It was tough to drink and eat and I didn’t take on enough water. Another competitor caught me and we ran together for a while in silence focused only on the ground which was rocky and tough to navigate.
We ran into checkpoint 2 together and another competitor caught us. A welsh lad who looked strong. He pushed through and I struggled to keep up. I kept my own pace and pushed through. I rolled my ankle 3 times on the rocks and adjusted my footing to compensate which I later regret because I now have two large blisters on each arch.
The heat was rising and I was keen to get out of the sun quickly. I pushed through and hit the big hill. 5km uphill in the blistering sun. I was now in 7th place and 8th place was nowhere to be seen behind me. I decided to take the hill easy and walk some of it. There is a long week ahead and I wanted to conserve energy. The hill dragged and dragged. The heat was beating down and I was baking. I kept plodding and eventually rounded the top and into checkpoint 3. I filled up and headed for home. 4km to the next base camp. I battled through, legs heavy, feet sore and crossed the finish line of day 1 in 7th place. Job done. In the top 10. I sat down in the shade just as Mark rounded the peak and headed for home. He came in 5mins after me. An incredible result for the big guy. We are both so happy and have agreed to work together for the rest of the week to keep our spots or move up the ladder. A lot of racing still ahead of us. Tomorrow is 10km longer and has a lot of river crossings which is making me nervous with my new blisters forming.
Matt had a good day too and is sitting in 4th place. The two at the front are extremely fast. Lets see what the next few days brings for us all.
Time to get the calories in. Noodles and freeze dried spag bol for dinner before lying down on the lunar surface again.
Till tomorrow.
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Atacama – Famous for its stars
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7 Responses to “I’m on the moon”

  1. Well done Rich, Race 1 under your belt, you’re on your way and in the top 10! Keep it up. Hope you can hear us cheering from here – we are right behind you. Lots of love, Steph

  2. Wow, What a great start,Richard. Mark too – fantastic result. All the best for the round 2.


  3. Boys keep this up!!! These are epic positions to be in! Still a lot of race left, don’t kill yourselves on the hills or go to hard too early. Keep to your own race and rythm. Loving it! Wish I was going to be there when you boys pull over that finishing line! Awesome work.

  4. Dig Deep Fellas. When you find yourself hanging, tie a knot in the rope and hang on. Dont think about the full distance, just concentrate on the number to the next check point. Enjoy it, massive effort guys. Drink Eat Drink Eat Rest. SMASH IT!

  5. Charlie Broughton Reply March 4, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Superb start Rich. Keep up the momentum!
    Look after those blisters buddy. Think of the Disney Movie – Happy Feet!
    Looking forward to reading the next chapter.

  6. Brilliant broz, I did not think it would be that hot with the altitude. Top effort and Marky what a suprise packet. That man does have a engine that is for sure.

    Good luck next stage

  7. Good stuff guys… Can almost feel the pain through the post… Holy sh#t keep it going!!!

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