The hurt locker

Status update:

Temp – 40 – 42 deg

Km’s complete – approx. 120km in 3 days.

Terrain – sand, rocks, dunes, mud flats, salt flats and everything else you can imagine if you were to picture a hot day on mars.

Blisters – 13 including 2 blood blisters.

Legs – quads are stuffed. Calves are ok.

Energy – going down, fast.

Banter – tons.

Most missed food (power and I agree on this one) – Cote lunch with Emma and Nessy. We’d have calamari followed by half a chicken and a crepe to finish with, of course, copious amounts of vino.

Most disliked food – shot blocs and cliff bars.

So we reached day 3. Power and I were in good spirits but feeling it after days pounding the body. Just so you can picture what it’s like, imagine one of the hottest days you experienced, put on compression tights and a top and then strap on a backpack filled with a sleeping bag, toilet paper, a blister kit and a ton of high calorie food to last you a week. The backpack including water will be around 9-10kg. Then, simply run a marathon. The next day, when your legs are stuffed and you’re mentally exhausted, get up, put your salt crusted clothes on (no showering for a week), shove some calories down your throat, fill your water bottles back up and do another marathon. Repeat 6 times and put a smile on your face. You paid usd$3500 for this wonderful experience!!

So, why do it? No idea. Still trying to figure that out myself!

Day 3 – the feet are battered. They are so swollen, I can barely put my shoes on. Power is in a similar place. Matt is in a worse place. He’s 3rd in the rankings but has stuffed his knee from the monster sand dune yesterday. He’s going to have to walk the rest of the way to try and just make the finish. That’s the fun of ultras. No matter how fit you are and how well you trained, it gets down to two things. 1) Can your body hold up to the pressure you are putting on it 2) can your mind handle the pressure too. Lucky for me, I have one of my best buddies, Power, out here suffering away too. We run together and even though there is not a lot said, we help each other through and will enjoy the beer this Saturday together because of it.

Day3 started with a run through the most craggy, gnarly surface you can imagine. My blisters were playing up from the start. Unfortunately my body is not playing ball which means I have to scrap the race strategy and move to survival mode. Power and I plodded through the day in an equal state. We slipped down the field but kept the pace constant. We moved through checkpoint 1 and kept moving trying to hold our place. The terrain was brutal and it was playing havoc with my blisters. Power and I kept sharing the pace setting. Heads down with just the occasional grunt to acknowledge each other. Checkpoint 2 complete and time for the heat. Time to enter the hurt locker. We were reduced to a slow desert shuffle across the sand in the blazing sun. Our tent mate Alistair came out of nowhere and passed us. Power and I were too broken to hang on. We pushed through shoving salt tabs into our mouths to keep our sodium levels in check. We hit checkpoint 3 – the home stretch. The worst stretch so far in the race.

We reduced our pace to a walk / shuffle to get up the craggy, rocky uphill. Heads still down we pushed hard to get the stage done but it just kept going. Up and down sand dunes which filled your shoes with sand even with gaiters on. The afternoon sun was blazing and we were struggling. We rounded a peak and saw what we thought was the camp for the night. WRONG! It was an extra water stop for water. We had 4 km’s to go. We pushed on through the dunes and finally saw the base camp in the distance. Shuffling up the last dune we crossed the finish for the day side by side. Broken, but happy to be at camp.

As soon as I had some fluid on board, I went to the medical tent to get the blisters treated. My little toe has a blood blister that is so big, my toe has doubled in size. The medical staff took great pleasure in photographing it. All treated now – let’s see what pain and pleasure is in store for us tomorrow.

I realize I’m painting a grim picture here. It’s tough, damn tough but, the relief, pleasure, pride that you feel when you get through something like this is like nothing you will ever feel doing anything else. You are pushing your body and mind to the absolute limit. You test your fitness against some of the fittest people in the world. The tent mates and friends you meet from around the world make the base camp a cherished memory. Lastly, the beer on Saturday will taste like no other beer.

A huge thanks to everyone for all the lovely messages Power and I are receiving. It’s so nice to feel the love when you are hurting. A huge thanks to my amazing wife for her supportive emails. Can’t wait to be back home with you and Babycino.  Nessy, Monkey is sending his love too. We have plans for Babycino and Mango.

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11 Responses to “The hurt locker”

  1. Rich – keep the updates coming! This is epic stuff and another level to the kind of challenges that I’ve been enjoying. Enjoy, good luck and keep plugging for the top 10!

  2. Lisa Lovell-Davis Reply March 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Your determination and resilience are an inspiration! You can do it. Xo

  3. Richy – yeah you’ve definitely painted a pretty grim picture, but the sense of satisfaction and knowing how you’ve pushed your body to the limit is damn impressive.

    Fond thoughts coming over to the Atacama for you and Mark…..:)

  4. Monkey?

  5. Keep firing pal. Not long now.

  6. Richard and Barbara Reply March 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Richard

    We can’t even imagine what your body is going through.

    We have nothing but the highest regard for your total dedication and determination.

    Totally agree we are put on this earth to find the limits of our capability and for the likes of only a few how they surpass it.

    Keep going, we are with you all the way.

    Best wishes

    Barbara and Richard

  7. Keep up to top work and exceptional beard growth….!!!

  8. Just love keeping in touch with you and your vivid recollections through the wonders of modern technology. One has nothing but so much admiration for you and your amazing achievemnts. All at home here are immensley proud of you – Don’t know what to say just hope that you manage to get in the top 10 as by God you deserve that wonderful placing after so much endurance and suffering. Thank you for keeping the Kiwi name at the top of a real sport.
    Cheers and enjoy the beer on Saturday night.
    Gordon Taylor / Mary Haliday

  9. Richie, Mark

    True sloggers! Man, it hurts just reading this. Congrats on your places – but who cares about places!! Not sure where you are as I write – gah to those salt flats – but sending Maia and I sending yous both much love and energy. That Saturday beer – it’s only a days away.

    Love ya.

  10. KEEP GOING MATE!!! What an epic event. Plenty of encouragement coming from Campaign Services!! All the best

    Dan

  11. Rich
    You are truly inspirational and we are full of admiration for your dedication, strenghth of mind and body, and commitment. You actually go and fulfill your dreams whilst people just dream and do nothing else but. What an achievment.

    YOU GO, KICK ASS !!!

    GO RICH, GO RICH, GO RICH
    send Mark our best also

    Lots of Love
    The outlaws
    Jackie & Brian xx