Pain in Patagonia

Blog 3: Pain in Patagonia.

After a quick day yesterday, I was eager to get as much downtime as possible and get the legs and body recovered. Munching on a bag of Pork Scratchings with Power whilst sipping tailwind and trying to replenish the calories. The wind has picked up and the weather is turning so we spent a lot of time in the tent. Joined by Chip, Craig and Dr Steve, we launch into heavy debate about the state of the American legal system, mid cap stocks and the future of bitcoin. The hours pass quickly and before you know it, we are digging into a freeze dried meal and getting settled for bed. I’m getting used to the 8pm bedtimes although 7 smelly blokes in a tent for a week without showering is an acquired taste!

After a restless sleep, we wake at 5:30 to pull on the chilli pants and get more calories into the body. I feel much better today but the legs are very stiff. The pace at the top is brutal. The top 10 is made up of extremely experienced endurance athletes and everyone is pushing hard to place high.

It’s a 37 km day heading out along the Pampas. It’s set to be another fast day with a lot of flats and less hills.

We start the day by running along a train track into a heavy headwind. We lay down the pace and push hard to get to the 14km checkpoint. Power was strong out of the gates today tracking really well along the railway. A bit of distance built between people and Power found himself alone for a section until he felt some heavy breathing down his neck. He pushed on thinking the competitor was going to pass him but 200mtrs down the track, they were still on his tail. He turned around to see a grey, wild stallion tailing him along the tracks.

We cruised through checkpoint 1 at pace and headed towards CP2. The sun was rising and Blake and I were nestled into our spot in the top 10 like usual. Today was slightly different as the Romanian sat out the back behind us with the other Aussie and the German. The flying Frenchman laid down a quick pace and kept up with Neil (Leader) and Ralph.  We hoped the sun was going to rise and get warm so the Frenchman would slow like normal but as we get closer to the snowy mountains, the wind gets colder and the 2 frenchies get stronger. We run along the gravel road keeping a strong momentum into the only hill of the stage. This is where the Romanian gets us.

We push on through CP3 and hit another gravel road for the final 10km. Blake and I pace it out. I hurt. A lot. More than the Thursday night fartlek sessions along the water front in Auckland with the boys.  I had to find some energy in the corner of a very dark place and push on. With incredible athletes ahead of us and behind us, you can’t let up the pace. Even for 1 minute.  I suck back water and start to grunt! It’s the only way to release the pain!

Blake and I track well and can see Gautier, the flying Frenchman, just ahead. We push through to the finish and come in about a minute down from him. So, we dropped a position today but still coming in 5th equal I think. The timings are a little off as the manually tag each of us. I’m so pleased to be able to run with Blake. We can help each other through the dark times and pace each other through the strong.

Power crosses the line not long after me and is getting stronger each day. Thankfully his back is not troubling him too much. Digby, Harry and Mark H are putting in a solid performance too. Chip, Craig and Dr Steve are doing incredibly well. Craig especially. He’s getting faster and stronger as the days go on. Chip at the tender age of 56 is tearing up the field and making the young bucks question their times!

My feet are holding up ok with only 3 blisters. My shoulders are pretty ripped up from the pack but nothing to worry about too much. Another solid afternoon of recovery with maybe a foot spa in the glacier stream next to the campsite.  Then we are onto the big days. This race is only just starting. We have a 46km day tomorrow taking us through the hills. Lots of river crossings tomorrow too so I hope the feet hold up. Then it’s the big daddy – 90km of heavy running finishing up in the mountains. Then it’s downhill to the beers on Saturday afternoon!

Missing all the family back home. Grateful for the messages of support. Not long till we are back on the grid.

Power and I joked this morning that when we get home, it won’t be a question of what should we have for dinner, it will be more “How many calories are we eating tonight darling?” It’s going to take a day or two to fit back into normal life again. I can’t wait to see Emma and the girls.

Mark Power going strong.

Rich and Blake.


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3 Responses to “Pain in Patagonia”

  1. Sweating as we read your blog.. This is serious endurance . Rivers will cool you down tomorrow …5th is a staggering effort .

    Take care …

    R and Bx

  2. Loving it, mate. Can’t imagine the amount of energy – physical and mental – it takes to do something like this. Inspirational. Keep up the pace!

  3. Get after it Rich! Sounds tough as hell. Just think of those 2 minute noodles when you’re digging deep on the hills and you’ll be right.

    We’re all cheering you on bro!!

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