500km done.....500km to go!
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Thank goodness for that!
13-Oct-2010 06:20:00 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010

I was incredibly relieved to shuffle across the finishing line on Saturday.  It was a brutal week which had tested me to my limits both physically and mentally. Thank goodness i inherited a slightly stubborn streak from my father, as i definitely had numerous 'moments' out on the course!

During the race i was asked quite a few times why i was attempting the grand slam (i asked myself that exact question ALOT during the night of the long 97km stage) and there is no simple answer. I'm enjoying, in a rather odd way, pushing my body to see what it can achieve, and as we all know too well, life is far too short not to try.

A HUGE thank you to all my amazing tent mates, fellow competitors, doctors and volunteers - i would not have finished the race without you.

Next stop Antartica!x

Comments (2)

The Long March
08-Oct-2010 07:34:57 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
That 96km was one of the hardest of my life. I was dreading it from the point of my knee - the docs had warned me that I shouldn't take too many painkillers because of the excessive heat, risk of dehydration and kidney failure...... Brilliant! Luckily the first couple of stages were stunning, through the Valley of the Whales (very odd trying to imagine life there millions of years ago while I'm sweltering in 50c heat?!) , which kept the mind off the knee. By the time the sun went down I was past CP5 and just shuffled along, from glow stick to glow stick, trying to make sure I didn't trip on the rocks.  The next 50km was a combination of sanddunes, rocky plateau's and endless soft sand. Once again, there were a couple of 'moments' had during the night - probably rather lucky that I was on my own!
We had the option of sleeping at CP6 but I kicked on as was scared that if I stopped my knee would freeze up. I'm now firmly in camp, and people are still crossing the line (1pm) which is an incredible effort.
Tomorrow we have the last shuffle to the finishing line - thank goodness it isn't longer, as I'm shattered and my whole body is beginning to feel the effects of the Atacama, Gobi and now the Sahara.  One of my fellow grandslammers worked out that we have completed the equivalent of 18 marathons in 7 months....no wonder we are a bunch of walking wounded!!
Thank you once again for all your emails and comments - I can't explain how much of a morale boost they are at the end of the day xx
Comments (8)

Stage 4
06-Oct-2010 01:15:06 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Yippee, stage 4 is over!  Another tough day as the knee is getting steadily worse - I was on my own for most of it, which worked quite well, as i could just put my head down, ipod on, and shuffle from CP to CP. The terrain was all soft sand and not a cloud in the sky......roll on the cold of Antartica. At the moment, i'm signed up to do one of these races in Nepal next Autumn, but i deceided today that the Rugby World Cup in NZ might be a much better idea?!
As usual, i had a fantastic reception from my tentmates and other friends when i arrived at camp - a huge morale boost when you are feeling a little low.  Don't worry, no tears yet but tomorrow could be interesting.  It's the monster long stage......97km.  It really is going to be a case of crawling one section at a time - we still haven't heard what time we are starting, fingers crossed its the usual 6.30 so that we can get quite a few km's behind us before the blazing sun re appears.  Temps have been constantly in the high 40's. I  won't be updating this again until Friday as i imagine i will still be out on the course this time tomorrow night!
Thank you once again for all your messages and sorry not to be able to reply to them xx
(PS Ma - don't worry, one of the docs is a knee specialist and is keeping an eye on things!)
Comments (17)

Stage 3
05-Oct-2010 12:25:19 PM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Thank god today is over, it was brutal.
I have to confess that at times i was even wishing i was back in the Atacama or Gobi - anything to avoid the endless miles of soft sand and blazing sunshine (48c)!  I stuck with Dave O'Brien, one of my fellow grandslammers, as he was feeling awful and my knee was agony.  We shuffled from CP to CP and managed to finish without too many 'moments'. We had to have a good hour stop at CP 3 as my knee was cramping up and he couldn't eat anything.
160 of us started on Sunday morning and only 120 of us are starting day 4 tomorrow. Camp is full of the walking wounded.
Once again, thank you for all your emails and comments, much appeciated.  For those suggesting i go faster.....i'm afraid i can't, sorry!x
Comments (16)

Stage 2
04-Oct-2010 01:09:27 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Another tough day.

Unfortunately 2 of my fellow grandslammers are out of the race - Tremaine, ex SAS, somehow managed to finish yesterday but had torn his ACL. Ricky, who is usually in the top 20, was at CP1 when i arrived there this morning - he should have been long gone! Guttingly he was feeling awful and his internal organs weren't working like they should. They both had to make the very difficult decision to pull out of the race.. They are both now en route to London for tests and fingers crossed they will both be in Antartica in 6 weeks.
Another friend was taken to Cairo hospital yesterday after collapsing out on the course - at least he is in the best place. Once again, fingers crossed he is ok.
Today's course was pretty testing and there were some monster dunes out there!   The docs think i have strained my LCL again which means that i'm going to have to take it very slowly this week if i have any hope of finishing.  If i push it too hard, and the LCL tears, i will be out of this race and probably Antartica as well.
Thank you for all the messages, hugely appreciated xx
Comments (11)

Stage 1
03-Oct-2010 11:47:26 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Wow, that was tough, and i'm very glad that today is over.  I always find the first day the worst and today was no exception.  After the morning briefing at 6.30am (sand, sand and more sand!) we set off at 7am. The combination of heat (topped 45c) and soft sand was incredibly energy zapping and took its toll on my knees, which went at the first large sanddune. They were strapped up at CP2 and will remain so until the end.  I finished in an ok time but as i'm writing this at 6pm, there are still about 10 competitors out there.  Guttingly quite a few guys have either dropped out today or hobbled over the finishing line but have deceided not to start tomorrow - a very tough decision to make. On the upside, i have a very good tent and 2 of the guys fnished 4th and 19th respectively.....amazing effort. 
Please keep the emails coming as this is going to be a very tough, painful and slow week. I just have to keep remembering why i'm out here and who i'm doing this for xx
Comments (11)

02-Oct-2010 02:29:23 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
This is it!  After 48hrs in a rather comfy hotel, i am now sat in the middle of the Sahara after a 3 1/2 coach ride.........an odd decision!  We had the usual kit and medical checks this morning and my backpack is 7.5kg which is the lightest it has been for any of the other races - most of which is dehydrated food, with the odd bag of skittles, peanuts, crushed pringles and some super seeds......
Tonights campsite is by the Lower Lake, to the east of the Valley of the Whales, which is stunning. As i'm writing this at 7.30pm, it is about 30c, which doesn't bode well for tomorrow's stage. The course notes are, as usual, scary reading but hey ho, fingers crossed the knees hold up.
There is a fantastic bunch of people out here, including alot of friendly faces from previous races.  Once again, there are 2 couples on their honeymoon - amazing!
Thank you very much for all your good luck messages and emails, please keep them coming as this is going to be a very tough week xx
Comments (3)

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