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    Gobi March China 1 Jun 2014
    RacingThePlanet: Madagascar Madagascar 31 Aug 2014
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RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 Blogs

Stage 1: I Need More Red Blood Cells!
27-Jul-2015 06:50:46 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

We arrived at camp last night up on the top of a hill.  In the background was a massive, very active volcano.  Apparently it has been on high alert for the last two weeks, and you could see steam coming out of the top (or maybe those were just well placed clouds).

Dave and I had picked up numerous pizzas, so I had pizza for lunch, dinner and breakfast before racing.  The first night got pretty cold and windy, but still way warmer than the first few nights in Gobi.  We were up at about 11,000 feet, and the night reflected that.

This morning we started up pretty early (7:30 am).  We had about a 30 mile day, climbing to about 13,000+ feet above sea level, before dropping to 9,500 feet (camp 2).

As we started off, I was immediately sucking wind.  My heart was racing, and I just couldn’t get enough air.  We continued up towards the crazy volcano, before turning back towards he villages down below.  The first part was really cool scenario, out in the middle of nowhere.

We got to checkpoint 1 (about 9 miles into the day) and couldn’t believe how hard things were.  I don’t remember my bag ever feeling that heavy, and my legs felt like I was trying to run through water.  This feels like the same story each race, but the first part of these things are always a shock to the system.  I arrived at checkpoint 1 in 4th place I believe. 

The next few sections were mostly downhill, in and out of a bunch of villages.  Eventually we did arrive to some more densely populated towns, with the roads that come with it. I believe from this point I stuck in 3rd place for the rest of the day.  On most of these stretches there were dogs all over the place, and most seemed very angry that we were there.  I was bit by a dog back in March, so I’m still a bit uncomfortable around dogs running straight at me barking (especially the stray ones).  Yes, most of the dogs I saw were the size of a toaster, but I still went into panic mode. 

The hardest stretch by far was the last 8 miles of the day.  It was really tough covering that much distance with completely full bags (probably at about 20 pounds today).  The heat also really picked up as we got later in the day. 

Ake (a friend of mine from RTP Iceland) finished up the day in first, with Mark not far behind.  I was about 17 minutes back from Ake, and 9 back from Mark.  Considering I finished Gobi day 1 in 5th, 22+ minutes behind the first three guys, I consider today overall pretty positive. Campsite 2 is in the grounds of a Church.  There’s a big wall surrounding the land of the Church, so it helps keep the wind down at our tents.

I am going to go eat some of my Mac + Cheese while it’s still light out (sun sets at 6:30pm).  Tomorrow is shorter (a marathon) but I believe there is much more climbing. Hopefully my body is a bit more comfortable in the high elevation tomorrow!

Until then!


Mom Crowley

Posted: 28-Jul-2015 12:46:40 AM

Great job Ralphie, 2 days under your belt! You are amazing. Stay away from those stray dogs and enjoy the views! Love you.

Adam Kimble

Posted: 27-Jul-2015 11:19:13 PM

Solid start, Ralph! I can't wait to see you make up that time the way you did in Gobi!!

Carol Lincoln

Posted: 27-Jul-2015 06:18:47 PM

Ralphie, Nice 3rd place finish for the first day! I am sure you will get use to the altitude. Good luck! Can't wait to read your next posting!

nancy dellaquila

Posted: 27-Jul-2015 03:02:57 PM

Hey Ralphie Well we are all back here at polar cheering you on. I know you'll do great and dont worry about those little dogs just give them a little snack and they'll be on there way. lol.. Please take care of yourself up there 13,000 ft. wow. I'm sending you some nice warm huggs. Love your blogs your write well. Enjoy all the beautiful areas you run thru and take care of yourself. You are the best in my book # 1...

Heidi Frost

Posted: 27-Jul-2015 02:39:49 PM

Great start Ralph. Hang in there, you'll reel them in slowly but surely. It's like chasing redemption fraud, lol. Good luck!!


Posted: 27-Jul-2015 02:18:18 PM

Sounds like a challenging first day! The pictures look amazing. Hopefully the medical team hooked you up with some red blood cells ;) and stage 2 was a breeze! Looking forward to following along this week! Good Luck! jw

Sam Sharrock

Posted: 27-Jul-2015 10:54:00 AM

Ralph, Good to hear that you've started the race strong, sure you'll acclimatise to the altitude after a few days. With regards to the pack weight, just keep on eating! The backdrop to camp 1 looked impressive/intimidating, depending on which way you look at it. You're well placed after day 1, this is going to be your race! I'll be keeping track of progress with a keen eye. Good luck buddy.

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