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RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 Blogs

28-Aug-2013 07:50:54 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

My 5 days of the race- Yes i have survived :) Just :)

I come here to finish and that is exactly what i’m going to do no matter what, big thank you to Mark for all his support and extra ordinary patience, I could not have done this without him MILY xoxox , my tent-mate was amazing – The “Smurf” Icelandic team fantastic and positive vibes through out  the tent, Chris the funny texans, Wilem the helpul mate and desree the girlie matey :) fantatic 6 days and definately something i'll remember. Iceland has given us her best and worst and we have enjoyed it all.

Thank you all for your support and will see you back soon... 



Awesome is al I can say, told you the other day of how tough the race has been with the weather, well the long march and Iceland throws all the weather you could think of (except sun!) in the space of one day. The day started with the night, in the tent after section 4 trying to keep anything from touching the sides of the tent to stay dry!! Wind bufeting the tent all night made sleep tough and the regular 2am walk to the loo a real test.


We woke with hope of change to be disappointed, wind as strong and now rain mixed with a liitle sleet so you can tell how cold it was!!


Anyway after layering up (all clothes possible), eating catching a bus for a 10 metre drive over the stream (they did plan to have us wade through!) we set off into the wind- well tried- one step forward two blown back but progress some how made.


Section one went ok, Wika marching like a trooper to ensure she didnt get cold which was tough wih the hip and now a huge swollen right ankle.... We set a pace to run to cut offs with 15 mins to spare plan and it worked all the way through first, second and third sections. During section three we met Kate from Australia also with swollen ankles from sprains and the three of us set out in a train to protect from the wind. Spirits high and good pace and with great enrgy injected from us to Kate and Kate to us. Weather didnt change – wind and rain/sleet pretty much all day.


Section four was our focus as it was supposed to be the long day rest stop- 40k into the day and pretty much as far as anyother day so good news none of felt as bad as those other days so confidence still good. Anyway aside from the staff at section four the rest didnt live up to a 5 star resort we envisaged- a wind swept tent, covered with dirt and wet .... time to eat and set off, no rest just move or the cold would have got us. Whoops forgot section 4 was 4k on the beach, fantastic, wind on the back for a chnage and firm sand to march on and on- loved it.


Section five pretty good though had a long scramble over lava field on the coast, waves crashing over us (earlier runners had tide going out, we didnt!)- slow progress as this sort of section sorts the injuries out but got through and then a march cross country to the TUNNEL OF LOVE with Ms Chirpy- Check point five a tunnel through a road shelter and great staff- time to put on torches and prepare for the dark last stage- 11k just hoping the terrain was clear and easy- it was but we never saw enough to know it was....


Tunnel vision sets in on the night legs and that 11k when the tempreature dropped further, wind, rain... was tough- we could smell the finish but felt they kept moving it further from us. Whatwas hard was we new we were heading to a school (no tent yeah yeah yeah) to sleep and therefore in the land of darkness we kept looking for the sign of distant lights- NONE!!!! Working  by my watch and a rough esimate of finish time (how we worked every stage to half way marks) the alloted time came and went with no sign of lights- then a support car pulls alongside and tells us we are 800m from the end (where?? Over there. Where???) keep going keep going as we know that sometimes the information given is not 100% and then man with headlamp walks towards us- 50m from the end- relief, exhileration and there :)


Kate, Wika and I had done it in stupidly tough conditions with great spirit and determination- through injury, down times and just plain distance we were there. No time to celebrate as the end wasnt at the school but a pick up point to run 15 mins to the local town and have to say the weather at that point was the worse we had (got even worse next hour for the poor souls on the course still) so a swift farewell to Kate as she got put on a bus us a van and off- warmth at last fantastic. To the school and unbelievable hot showers, drop bag with spare clothes given to us, great help from Rebecca one of the Iceland ladies, food and bed to contemplate what we had done (one thing on the bed, we are all 300 sleeping in a gym- like a scene from a disaster movie!! Of course we are there hours after lights went out so a little bit of fun trying to be happy and quiet!)


What can I say to end this- Wika was amazing, seriously- the pain she had in her hip was bad but then the sprained ankle –ouch!! Add her hate of cold, still a huge backpack..... and we marched from point to point today with no stops- head down plough on amazing effort and hugely proud.


Big thanks to Kate and hope to find her today to get email so can send photos


One day left and short 10k, we HAVE done this already but still a small challenge to go (getting Wikas foot into her shoe for one!) and the ICELAND WE DID IT


Love to all
The End? Maybe!
13-Aug-2013 07:27:32 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Well this had better be fourth time lucky! Have been trying to post the final blog a few times now but keep losing it in cyberspace which along with the mysterious photo of unknown person that keeps appearing on my profile is another mystery of the RTP series I am yet to fathom out- of course could just be me a technology!!

Anyway back to the end- WE FINISHED, not last but closer to the back than front, but finished we did which was always the objective :) so how did the final day pan out?

Woke in the gym with 300 plus people, amazed at how early some rise but then again no one really sleeps so maybe thats best. It took us a bit of time to get ready or more to the point untangle the muscles that had frozen overnight into positions they did not wish to move from, this took coaxing and pain killers for most and especially Wika who now had swollen knee to go with the hip and ankle.

Jumped on the bus to the start which promptly got lost- no worries as it was warm on the bus as opposed to another cold slightly damp day outside (at least no wind!). Had the delight of seeing the mother of a Canadian competitor on the roadside (one of many sightings during the week) who did her 'go team' routine- superb and great spirit lifter, whoever you are we all loved you. Spirits high on the bus as only 9-10k, cant be bad can it?

Aside from only just making the start (late bus, toilet stop, gear in the wrong place...) it was pretty easy actually and I know it may sound mad but after the previous challenges in some ways I think we all felt a bit 'cheated' on the last day with the end coming on us almost before we started. Literally, a small rise which I thought was a good k to go to the end and it was there.

Usual before line stop for photos (thats one of the reasons we were so far back, nothing to do with our pace just pre finish photos!) and cuddle then over the line for cheers that only the first and last competitors get with such vigour, medal, hot real food, lots of nice comments and glorious feeling of DONE IT!!

To top it all the organisers had one more challenge, an 800m hike to the Blue Lagoon (thanks for the extra bit of work!!) and a dip in the natural hot spring which I have to say must be the best ever post race venue- so relaxing.

Back on the bus, hotel, room, clean, white sheets, shower, TV, room service..... and piles of stinking wet clothes which had to be dealt with (burnt!). A short rest then on to the awards ceremony and collect our prize :)

Actually no prize, not even a mention :( seems only those that win get a mention the rest of us sit in smug self satisfaction of a job well done and congratuate each other. Photo and video show funny as always (lots of toes being drilled and pained faces- none of us as photographer never out on the course that long- lightweight!!), great night and real good end to the event, though we did go downtown for a quick drink with Hulda/Rebecca and their family- not long but enough to say done it then back to the hotel for first great sleep in a week.

Sunday morning awoke to you guessed it, great weather- sods law. Didnt do much as packing took an age and then off on the tough journey home (long march all over!). Monday back to HK and Tuesday back to office and reality.....

So thats it then, all over, job done, closed book- nearly, need to finalize sponsorship (thank you all that have contributed) and get funds off to Jane at Refugees International and hope that in a small way our contribution will bring to others some of what we have enjoyed the last week- freedom to be what we want to be, isnt that what everyone deserves?

Not much more to add but to repeat the huge pride I have with what Wika achieved, I still dont think she understood the scale of the challenge before, add the injuries, the cold, the wet (Wika loves both!!!!!), the back pack, the camping, looking after yourself when absolutley exhausted and the pure distance and you have to say it was remarkable for us to survive day one let alone every stage and conditions Iceland threw at us. Wika, you were/are amazing x

A thank you for the messages and posts that came through, cant say they kept us going (as they did for me in the Gobi) as frankly we were too tired to read them during the race, but we knew you were all out there supporting us so thank you.

Final thing to say to everyone- find a challenge, a personal challenge, one that takes you to an uncomfortable place for a while but leaves you feeling alive and ready for the what the world can throw at us, doesnt need to be physical just stretching. Then give it your best shot, thats what we did and I can honestly say Wika and I are better for it.

Wika and Mark

Ps yes we have entered another one!
Guts and determination
07-Aug-2013 02:17:53 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

For those following Wika and my progress Im really sorry that havent blogged for last few days, reason is simple we are still in but just!

I said day one was tough as wika was struggling with her hip, amazingly that has not got better at all but we ard stil moving. Our tactic has moved to 100% just finish and as a result we have been pacing to cut offs with a little margin. Good news is its working and after four very tough days we are still in and the determination in Wika is amazing,she is in pain from first step till last and over some of the terrain we are hitting its unbelievable, very proud ; )

So stage two continued with even colder weather than day one, bloody freezing! And the wind was stupidly strong lifting people off their feet. We got to check point one and wika went to the medic and got the great response of ‘no hip replacements here so you have two choices- stop or continue! So on we went and stage two was so slow we lost huge time and at that point we agreed we just have to finish and off we went on a new pace. Beutiful country but had enough of the glacier which was centraL view all day! Stave three was ok and then we got news the course would be cut short due to weather after stage four. Great news except WRONG and we found out at stage four, no worry another 10k plus to finish not fun and on tbe worse stage of the day a straight line track following power lines as far as you could see. Anyway made it and then the job of warmth, food, medication and sleep.

Stage three beautiful weather actually perfect for trecking and scenery was amazing. Same thing as stage two pacing to cbeckpoints, food, medication and stretch..... All going well till final leg which increased by over 1k from notes and included 5k of new gravelled (boulders) road killer for able bodied but by then most people around us were nursing injuries so watching provress of many was painful. We did ok and finished well bht same thing back to tent medication, food, change and sleep.

Stage four have to say was stunning beutiful and full of interesting things-climbinging lava tube, glacier lakes and hot springs. Only problem was last section supposedly moderate 11k but bloody hard witb huge climbs, off road, gravel/boulder tracks and river crossings at the end to prepare the shoes for tommorrow!!!!!!

Race approach is to get to every checkpoint for medication for wika and its working along with iphone music.

Anyway we have the long day tommorrow not too long as the first four stages have been 40k plus by large amounts. So our plan is to break the day into two and rest at the mid point. Fingers crossed!!!

Anyway better go now as need food and sleep. Have seen any incoming messages yet as no time but thank you if yoj have taken time to write.

Hopefully back on tomorrow witb news of completing the long day.

Mark and wika

Stage 1
04-Aug-2013 04:33:59 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Day one down and what a day! First up we managed to JUST beat the sweep today so achieving the objective of a finish but after section three things were so different... more to follow.
Back to the start, we arrived at camp last night and boy was it cold- think the worse English summer day and add a winter chill direct from the glaciers and you have it- so cold that Wika didnt leave the tent last night and there was more to come in the morning- a mountain mist!! One small upside of the 1 degree and horizontal winds was that they cancelled the planned water crossing which was due 30k in meaning 10 k in soaking clothes was avoided. Noentheless it was a day for layers and lots of them mainly to stop the wind which was biting.
Things started well good pace section 1-3 but then dramatic slowdown- Wika's hip started to give her a lot (a lot) of pain and with it our pace halved- tough going and a long time on our feet which of course just doubles the problems. Anyway we finished and in the sprint for the line Wika stepped over first leaving me in  LAST place for the race.
That said whilst we finished with the sweep it was two and half hours earlier than they expected the sweeps to finish so it wasnt a bad pace. Now the focus is on getting food, rest and medication to allow us to start tomorrow in reasonable fashion. Weather supposed to be colder but wind dropping so will feel hopefully a lot warmer. Another 40k plus day tomorrow.
Cant tell you much about the rest of the race as we didnt see it :) but our tent mates are great- we have the Icelandic team (actually one from New Zealand), three great ladies full of fun and only just ahead of us today, the other three are from the States and running for a charity called runwell- seem to be a lot of them in the race- nice group.
Scenery is stunning thoigh didnt change much all day leaving us with long empty roads to stare down until another 4x4 blasted past ic a cloud of dust, eating dirt most of the day.
So Shalen dont think you need to worry about a big bill for the sponsorship but then again you know how things change day to day- sorry Jane was looking forward to a big cheque from him!! Dad, Wika says rename the car Moggie if she beats me which she will as its always ladies first of course!!
Kids if you sent messages sorry no internet for next few days, love you all.
Hope to post another blog tomorrow or should I say force Wika out of her sleeping bag to do one.
Mark and Wika
Check in time - Mark & Wika
03-Aug-2013 11:01:20 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

OMG...... breakfast with sooo many lean and fit looking people all wearing the badges or multiple challenges and then to eat, they with salad and salmon, mark and i full fat fry ups!!!! come on last real food for 6-7 days :) check in was smooth, too smooth- have we really got all that sorted??? seems so so 1 part of the challenge down. today is final prep day and travel to start which we heard at briefing has been moved due to wind and rain- joy!!! still worried about the cold but actually now more worried for others as here in town yesterday and today the weather has been glorious, if the later arrivals think this is it they are in a for a shock!! that said if it good weather they will have a laugh at us with our extra clothes!! Pack weights came in at 8kg for Wika and 18 for Mark :) well nearly!! not much else to report as 4 hours on bus to look forward to but hope to post a note after finishing stage one tomorrow 46k so look out for that. do note the blog from camp maybe in either wika or mark's name as we have just one log on and not sure which will be used so do look for both. Thanks again for donations to Refugees International Japan it really is appreciated. Mark and Wika your arctic explorers!
RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013

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