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From Atacama to the Kimberley

From Atacama to the Kimberley




By Simon Penn




Tackling the Australian outback in RacingThePlanet is a tough enough feat at any time, but when you’ve just done the same thing a month ago in Atacama the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches.


Eight competitors who took to the start line in Australia are doing just that, having competed in Chile.


New Zealander Hamish Travers says he did no real training between the two events. “The result was that coming into this I felt totally underdone,” he says. “But the fact is that you’ve got that under layer of conditioning and my legs feel great.


“I think there are definitely benefits to doing one race and then another four to six weeks afterward because you’ve got that fitness base.”


But after just one stage, the challenge in the Kimberley is proving very different to his previous one.


“I’d say that this leg would be more difficult than any of the legs I did in Atacama,” he says.


“I would say that if the next four or five days are like this it would definitely be the most demanding thing I’ve ever done.”  


Fellow Kiwi Simon Robertson, who now lives in Hong Kong, is also finding the heat hard going after training little between events.


“I think today everybody’s found it brutally hard,” he says.


In the week before Australia he did some barefoot beach running in the middle of the day to toughen his feet and acclimatise to the heat. 


“I haven’t done much since Atacama, I’ve had half a dozen short 15km runs,” he says.


“I think I’m just trying to let my muscles recover. I think that’s more important than getting out there. You have this muscle memory so your body knows what it’s done and you need to just re-ignite it again.” 


Diana Hogan-Murphy and David Pearse both also competed in Atacama before coming to Australia but their preparation was very different to the Kiwi pair.


Diana, from Ireland, was the first woman across the line at RacingThePlanet: Gobi 2009.


Just two weeks after finishing Atacama she ran an ultramarathon and then two weeks after that a half-marathon.


Like everyone else she found her first day in Australia tough, having to walk sections of the course she would ordinarily run.


“I would have thought coming into this one that Atacama would have given me a good base but I think I still have the dead legs,” she says.


She had hoped to be able to acclimatise to the Australian heat but the Icelandic volcano put paid to that, meaning she arrived in Kununurra right before the event.  



David, from South Africa, also ran an ultramarathon two weeks after Atacama and has no concerns it will effect him in Australia.


“I think there’s been time to recover,” he says.


“I’m not an athlete, I’m a plodder and at the pace I go it’s not a problem. If you were trying to win then it would be different.


“I’m pretty happy with the way we finished physically today so I’ll just keep on plodding and get to the finish.”

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