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RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 Blogs

Stage 6 and Post Race
16-Aug-2015 07:05:51 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Oops, forgot to write the Stage 6 blog. Wanting to round this off anyway, so here goes.


Stage 6 was 11km from our final camp to Pucuyacu, mostly on the road with a bit of single track and some awesome bamboo bridges. Ecuador turned on the amazing weather again, and we could definitely tell the difference in altitude given it was a lot warmer and more humid. Completely different vegetation to run past, too. Had a nice cruisy day, alternating walking and jogging along the road. Spent almost the entirety of it by myself, but that was ok. Got greetings from locals and had a really sweet moment where after calling out 'buenos dias' to a few of them, one guy in his early 20s (I guess) replied with 'you can do it!' in English. Totally unexpected given I spent most of my time with limited Spanish or Portuñol!

I managed to run the last section and on the last road part before the finish line one of the locals joined me for a few hundred metres! He was super enthusiastic, good on him. Wish I'd thought to get a photo, but I was just so keen to get across that finish line! 

All up I finished the race in a smidgen over 64 hours. Iceland took me 59 and a half, and I was hoping for a faster time this race, but the general concensus was that this was a very difficult course because of altitude and the elevation gain and loss. So 4 hours extra is fine. Especially considering the stomach bug I started with (though ironically day 1 was still my fastest day - how?!) and the resulting lack of calories consumed. I had to start playing catch up from the day before the race (guess that's one reason my times ended up getting slower and slower I suppose). I wasn't 100% sure I would be able to finish this race prior to starting (before the stomach bug!) so all the more reason to be satisfied with the result. Also the fact that I discovered I apparently have very minimal (relatively speaking) issues with altitude. 

The bus ride back to Quito was long and had a return to almost 4000m (I think?), but our bus ended up being the party bus, so the first couple of hours were incredibly entertaining and the rest was relaxing. The awards banquet and after party were fun, and who knows where that taxi driver tried to take us afterwards... 

All up, post-race I've been feeling pretty good. I had a week off from anything exercise-related, I've been eating more than usual for the last couple of weeks to recover weight lost during the week (took a week to get the motivation to get to the gym to weigh myself, at that point was 2kg down on my pre-race weight, guessing when I arrived back in Brazil I was 4kg down, same as after Iceland, so that's fine). I had the comment during the first week that I was gaunt, which was amusing, though my body tends to make up the calorie deficit within a couple of weeks. The tendons that decided to say hello on the long day seem to be fine now, though my hamstrings were complaining within 10 seconds of starting an isometric hamstring exercise at the gym yesterday (so 2 weeks post race), which I usually enjoy, so they're obviously still feeling abused. Going to line up a massage soon and see if I can survive that!


As for gear, I was once again very happy with my gear and food choices for this race. My Macpac Amp 25 worked very well despite the issues with my sports bra strap rubbing and causing shoulder pain. As long as they weren't in the same place on my shoulder it was as comfortable as my old pack. I loved my new Thermarest NeoAir Xlite, and having my feet up on my pack (it was 3/4 length), though my pack definitely has a lower R value than the sleeping mat, haha. The drink bottles worked out well too, I was able to overcome the two physical disadvantages (being female and being short) by having them quite high up on my backpack straps, which meant I could drink out of them without taking them out or needing the straw attachment, so that worked out well. No bruises on my arms, either! Food worked well again this time (when I could eat it), and the BackCountry Cuisine banana smoothies were excellent. Though I did discover that if you don't have enough water in there it is basically still a solid, and not exactly palatable, so the key is to add water, mix it, then add more. The volunteer who named herself Smoothie Queen definitely deserved the title! (Can't remember her name, but she mixed it better than I did!)


All up it was an excellent race, I thoroughly enjoyed myself once again and within days (hours?) of getting back I've started contemplating the next adventure/challenge. Big thanks to the staff, volunteers and doctors who organised the race, kept us going and looked after us! Great times interacting with the locals and enjoying the scenery. Related to which, it's been interesting (and totally going geology geek on this) seeing that Cotopaxi has woken up after months of increased seismic activity a mere 21 days after we were camped in the nearby foothills with a brilliant view of it, temporally that's a little close for comfort! Talk about perfect timing. But then any country with a landscape like that (Iceland and New Zealand also come to mind) has that risk and it's not something one tends to think about until the geology really makes itself known. 

Finally, thanks again for all who commented during the race, it was fantastic reading those in the evenings after coming in from a long day out on the course!

Stage 5 – The Long March through the lands of the Kichwa
01-Aug-2015 03:34:56 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]


So yesterday was the long march – 63 (ish) km with a huge amount of elevation loss. It was all on gravel roads except for a small amount of tarmac. I would have liked some single trail as my feet were a bit sore, but all good.

We started at 10 because of the hard day 4… Was quite warm during the day and quite a slog through the first three checkpoints  because we still had hills and altitude. Came in comfortably before the first three checkpoint cut off times so all was well. Walked with Kate all day – good company, though we definitely lost the plot a bit at times haha.

After checkpoint three we started heading down into the cloud forest – this was close to sunset so took some time to get some good pictures! After that it was all downhill! I was enjoying it for the most part – checkpoint 5 was the overnight checkpoint and by that point my right Achilles had started to hurt (took neurofen for it) then the tendon behind my left knee (right side) associated with my hamstring started to hurt. That was new. Got that strapped at checkpoint 5, had a hot chocolate, and moved on. Apparently that was related to the downhills.

Between checkpoints 5 and 6 (9something km) we lost over 900m altitude I think. I can’t remember the number, but it was a very steep switchback going down the entire way. Took neurofen for stabby tendon pain behind my knee and kept slogging on. There had been rain so was water on the road – Kate and I didn’t care to get our feet wet so made a  bridge with a random piece of wood conveniently placed to make a step. Got to the last checkpoint, checkpoint 6, and they gave me Tylenol to combine with the neurofen to dull the tendon pain. Achilles was fine again by that point, go figure.

The last section was 8.6km on sharp gravel and my feet were killing me, but made it to camp a bit after 2am! Even managed to run up the hill across the finish line! There were 6 people after us (including Ken from my tent) so I stayed up to welcome them in.

We have a nice grassy campsite today for the rest day and it is so different being so much lower altitude. It’s a lot warmer, more humid, the vegetation is a lot more tropical and there are more birds etc. The low clouds are hanging around, but sometimes the sun comes out and it is super hot. There’re chickens running around and a rooster who was apparently going tent to tent crowing this morning (he may become lunch or dinner if he isn`t careful!). Just sitting around being social and eating today! The last stage tomorrow is 11km and there are rumours of staggered start – if there is one I expect I’ll be starting early so I’ll try go get through with my camera and hope I’m quick enough to get to the finish in a reasonable time haha.

All of my tent has made it, all the kiwis have made it, my two brasiliero amigos have made it, Ake is still in the leadership position after flying through yesterday (almost literally! “long” day haha), and I have to say I’ve enjoyed myself! Looking forward to being clean and some different food though! Oh, and bonus – STILL no IT Band problems!!! (theory that the roads here aren’t cambered may help is an interesting point, incidentally.)

Thanks again for the comments – they’ve been great to read. Rick – we’ve missed you at the back! Nicole, I’m planning the massage in about a fortnight when my muscles can handle it! They’ve definitely been abused…

Can’t wait to show you all pictures of this, it’s been a fantastic race. The volunteers and staff have been amazing and the scenery and locals likewise!

Ok, time to go eat more and relax.
Final blog post from Quito after stage 6!

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RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015

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RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 competitor


I'm a geologist currently based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, researching deep marine environments using micropaleontology (foraminifera!).

Auckland, New Zealand


Why are you competing?
To challenge myself.

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