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NEXT ROVING RACE: MADAGASCAR 2014

RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016 Blogs

Get to the beach!
19-Feb-2016 09:30:47 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Last long day (as Day 7 is only 4km before a bus ride back to Kandy), and it was the longest in so many ways! 51km. 7am start (instead of 8am to beat the heat and sunset). Temperature got up past 35 and humidity was probably above 85%. Sunny with a few clouds. The last 21km had to be done in groups for safety reasons (nothing like walking at the slowest person’s pace for 4hrs after 30km). And strict cut off times due to wildlife.

 

It was time to use up all the reserve energy and go all guns blazing to the finish. So after a quick warm up at the back belting out a few tunes (mostly Taylor Swift) the scouts pace and interval training from decades of hockey came out... I ran 50-100 paces and then walked a bit (depending on hills). The original pln was to hit that til 10am due to the heat and humidity. But 10am came and went and I still had fuel to burn.

 

Some highlights:

-          saw an elephant!

-          did a line of high fives with some cyclists

-          got a motorbike escort by some locals into checkpoint 3

-          thought I had 20mins to go til the last checkpoint (before the group walk) and rounded a corner to face a 100m stretch and the finish line in sight... so I sprinted in! Best surprise ever

-          Learnt to say wind, ocean, water, beach and thanks in Singhalese

-          Seeing campsite and managing to walk the whole way before sunset

 

The ibuprofen study was great. No idea if I had the real stuff, but my blood results showed that I had taken in lots of electrolytes (as it was hot), and that my kidneys and liver function were pretty good.

 

Can’t wait to do more summaries and share the expeience. Glad I’ve done it. Not sure I’d do it again as a participant, but I’m keen to volunteer and give back.

 

Right, off to go sing under the stars on the beach at camp! Ciao!

The “short” stage
18-Feb-2016 02:21:51 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I’m sure everyone else in the real world will appreciate that a 30km walk/jog is not short! So why everyone was so happy and relieved is beyond me… to me it still seemed like a long day in the hot and/or humid weather.

On top of that, it rained hard overnight, and as the tents were pitched on a slope, most tents woke up with a built in pool… fortunately we made a dam with our water bottles at the entrance, resulting in minimal water inside. First win of the day!

But the rest of the day was a bit of “is the glass half full or half empty”

-          I woke up at 5:15 after a lot of broken sleep. Which meant plenty of time to eat and prep for the day, and I even got a short walk in to a buddist statue with my morning Milo mocha (which I mostly spilt)… good warm up, and very tranquil compared to all the unhappy faces at camp from the conditions.

-          After powering along a bit yesterday, today was about getting to the end with no new blisters or injuries and conserve energy for the big day tomorrow. I was out there much longer than I would have liked, but I was mostly in good company (thanks Tina, Becky, Connie and Cynthia). No new blisters. Tick!

-          It rained early on, which was great as I really needed a shower! The downside was our socks were wet, hence why I walked slower (soft skin from wet socks and increased friction was a good recipe for blisters) and even took a 8min break on a roadside to try and dry socks a bit.

-          Got a bit of singing in, but couldn’t remember half the words to songs I should know… I blame neurological fatigue

-          There was sun between the rain clouds. Yay! I got sunburnt on my arms… oops!

-          Unfortunately some walking companions hit some pain and mental walls today

-          An earlier arrival at camp meant more R&R time; unfortunately a few tent mates are barely hobbling due to blisters, so I’ve had to help them a bit. Not complaining though as I’m sure they would have done it for me. Plus it’s good to see some of their spirits are better for getting through today.

There is a sense of excitement at camp tonight as we are all so close to the light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow is a tough day: 16km on road, 14km in jungle (we’re in Yala National Park) and then we must cover the last 21km in groups. But camp will be on the beach facing the ocean. We have showers but clearing as the forecast. The final day is a 4km jaunt and then we’ve made it! So lots to look forward to!

The walking patterns around camp due to everyone’s blisters is mildly amusing! Mine have fortunately remained fairly controlled, but tomorrow will be another gruelling test. I’m certainly glad I’ve taken some of the stages at an easy pace as I think that’s helped reduce friction in my shoes (although time on feet has been higher), kept muscle problems at bay and allowed for plenty of energy and enthusiasm in the tank for tomorrow.

A medical study on effects of ibuprofen is being done tomorrow for any participants willing to volunteer. Of course I’ve volunteered! So hope I have ibuprofen!

I’ve already started thinking about what has worked and what has failed. My current top “extras” that I’ve brought are

-          my eyemask and ear plugs to help sleep better

-          the air mat (but it needed to be patched after a hole on the first night)

-          my sandals (used them for a river crossing and they’ve been great around camp)

And I certainly feel I’ve achieved some of my goals of singing and meeting amazing people. It’s certainly been an amazing experience but I still can’t wait for a hot shower and a proper bed!

Can’t wait! Here we go!

Stage 4
17-Feb-2016 02:43:18 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

The last few days have been long so blogging had to take a back seat.

A recap though:

Day 2

A tough day on the trails. The 3some (Patrick & Tina) from Day 1 got split midway but reunited on the home stretch.

Highlights:

-          We named our trio Huffin Puffin as we decided the sorting hat would put us all in Hufflepuff

-          A great rendition of Eminem’s One Shot

-          Amazing mountain views

-          A great view of mountains and low cloud

Lowlights:

-          Tina falling, and having to hobble the last 3km in more and more pain

-          Sleeping under the stars as the tents never arrived, and 3 of the temporary marquis blowing down and breaking after midnight

 

Day 3

Things got really tough for the tail end of the participants as tougher cut-off times were imposed for safety reasons. And apparently one of the leaders almost ran into an elephant around a bend. It was a day that required a pick up in pace, the upside was arriving at camp before 6pm and the downside was having to leave people behind. But the tactic to take it easy on the first 2 days paid dividends as pain was only restricted to blisters.

(I’ll do highlights and lowlights another time)

 

Day 4

Time to start moving! A flat course meant a good opportunity to try to reduce time out on the course so the feet would be good for the remaining stages. Fortunately I found some new walking buddies (thanks Sandy and Karen) so the day was a little easier. But a bad choice in socks resulted in a new blister on the sole of my left foot over the last 10km. About to sort it out. Our luck with weather seems to be running out as intermittent rain is hitting us at camp tonight. Fingers crossed!!!

Right, food and recovery. Looking forward to a shorter day tomorrow!!!

A crazy start
14-Feb-2016 04:08:59 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

From our 5 star hotel, we ventured into the tea plantations in convoy with escorts and, after a quick cuppa, arrived in a disorderly fashion to a scout’s camp for Camp 1. Most people quickly ate their dinner round the camp fire and decided on an early night, with the rebels and last  standers surviving til 9pm before turning in.

It was a pretty cold night on wooden boards and concrete floors. So it was not surprising to see many early risers and a couple of sleepy faces. but all were ready and present for the start as we set off to the beat of drums. after everyone missed the first turn (shall we call it a prolonged warm up) we were off into the wilderness.

it was pretty brutal... tricky terrain, a hot sun, slippery rocks... all the 4Desert veterans agreed it was a tough first stage. so after lots of chat and making new friends along the way, i finally made it to the end in just over 10hrs! by that stage the speedsters looked like they were tucking in for the night. after assessing a couple of blisters and sorting out dinner, an early night is not a bad option.

highlights:

  • coming out of the woods to a valley and mountains of farms and plantations

  • helping the Afghanistan team early on to check point one

  • walking along a train track (including a high bridge and a tunnel)

  • lots of singing with other newbie mates (thanks Tina and Patrick)

  • the views of mountains and fields just towards the camp site

can’t wait for tomorrow!

**It gets real!!
11-Feb-2016 01:11:21 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So I'm currently in transit in Singapore and the flight to  Colombo boards in one hour. I've been all along the spectrum of excitement through anxiety to sheer terror and panic and back again in the past 24hrs. It is safe to say say that I'm definitely stepping way out of my comfort zone embarking on this journey, but I can't wait!

 

I didn't quite get to blog about the rest of how prep went (although I've saved them in the drafts, so maybe will throw them in later)... But here is a quick (not!) summary of where things stand...

 

Hardest things
1. Packing!!! My backpack is a kilo heavier than I would like, so some last minute exclusions may occur yet... Aim is under 11kg (which is still 1-2kg more than half the blogs so far! Yikes!)
2. Sewing on race patches to my shirts and jackets!! Goodness that took forever! I didn't want to attach them on permanently but it would have been way easier!
3. Managing niggles and my multi sport training schedule... This was always going to be a challenge. 
4. Training on my own... Another challenged I knew I would face after Trailwalker, and it has been as erratic as expected.

 

Most looking forward to
1. meeting fellow participants... The bios have been amazing and I'm sure everyone will be twice as fascinating in person!
2. A week off the grid. Nothing like no emails and messages and phone calls for a week!
3. Getting out and exploring the landscape on my 2 feet... It's always rewarding and worth the effort!
4. Learning in the deep end... It's going to be a steep learning curve for this novice!

 

Terrified / most anxious about
1. food - do I have enough? Did I pack enough variety? Will I get enough nutrition?
2. My starting back pack weight
3. Weather forecast ( possible thunderstorms late next week?)
4. Bumping into wild life (snakes, elephants, leeches, hungry leopards...)
5. Getting hay fever or any gastrointestinal ailments 

 

Least looking forward to
1. No showers
2. Not sleeping in a bed
3. Being sweaty and dirty constantly for a week
4. No toilets for a week
(I'm such a city slicker!!!)

 

What advice I'm banking on
1. don't worry about food - most people pack too much (really?!)
2. Repackage food so it's lighter and easier to pack
3. Bring a couple of comforts (snacks and music)
4. You'll be fine! - Trailwalker is harder than one of these events (depends how you define hard perhaps...)
5. Other participants will help you get through the week

 

What I'm hoping will get me through
1. past experiences of a full week of exercise and how my body will respond
2. Strapping tape!
3. People's stories
4. Singing to myself in the middle of nowhere
5. Learning a few words in various foreign languages

 

My equipment that will help the most
1. I love my back pack
2. My shoes feel great
3. Milo-mocha every morning
4. I'm really hoping my sleeping mat will help me sleep and recover each day!

 

Again, looking forward to reflecting on all this in 10 days' time!!!

OLIVIA CHIU
RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016

Hometown
Hong Kong

Profession
Personal trainer in Hong Kong (mainly rehab and chronic injuries, but general well-being too) Australian-registered physiotherapist

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OLIVIA CHIU
RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016 competitor

Bio

Personal Trainer (2008-current)
Physiotherapist (2006-current)
Ex-semi-elite field hockey and indoor hockey player (1996-2013)
Exercise enthusiast (always)

Hometown
Hong Kong

Profession
Personal trainer in Hong Kong (mainly rehab and
chronic injuries, but general well-being too)
Australian-registered physiotherapist

Why are you competing?
I actually wanted to volunteer, but somehow got
convinced to "give it a go"... Hopefully a few
friends / clients can benefit from my experience
before they embark on their own ultra adventures

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