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CONCLUDED 10 AUGUST
NEXT ROVING RACE: MADAGASCAR 2014

RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 Blogs

(Im)Mortals, your names will be put to test...
09-Aug-2013 03:53:47 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Almost 300 of us started the day yesterday, which was brutal in terrain and miserable in weather. All that could potentially go wrong in terms of weather went wrong - rain, hail, wind speed in excess of 30kmph, and cold (below 5deg cel). I guess I was wrong to assume that summer in Iceland would be comparable to other parts of Europe. The terrain yesterday had sand on one long patch, lava rocks on another, stones on third, and unending jeep tracks. Given that the distance was 63kms, mortalitily limits of all were tested. Also with the cold if you stopped, there was a chance to develop hypothermia, so you had to be on the move all the time.

I had planned for some rain, but not through the course. I wanted to delay blistering which is rather easy with wet shoes and moist socks. I executed as planned and changed my socks for every 10kms for the first 40kms and then pull through for the last 23kms with the same pair. The highlight of the day was at 23rd km when it began to get tough, from behind emerged my friend Raj Chauhan. I don‘t think each of us have been ever as excited seeing each other as we did then. It was a welcome sign of relief for both as we still had 40kms to go and to go alone for that distance in miserable weather is not easy. We stuck together right through the end drenched even with our rain gear on. What also came as surprise was that instead of tents on arrival, we were put up in a school gym floor, had access to hot showers, and given our additional drop bag which had warm set of clothes, without which none of us could have potentially pulled recovery post the 63kms. The cut-off time for 63kms ran into early morning which meant that we had a day off today. In the end I escaped with four blisters which I have treated. I must admit that the race has improved my survival and medical skills the most.

Over the last five days, the race has seen over 10pct attrition due to injuries, health, etc. I was speaking to some of the competitors who have been training on hills, difficult terrain, and under different weather conditions. Unfortunately, Mumbai offers no hills which are closeby and with vehicles splashing water right on your face during monsoons it is hard to run on roads too, neither does it offer weather conditions. With only treadmills for regular training, I am glad that I managed so far. 

Tomorrow is approx 10kms, but the terrain is not easy to run as it has lava rocks which are not easy to navigate. But with every step we get closer to the finish line. Almost there...

P.S: Shloka, Vedika, and Ram, I am looking forward to seeing you in a few days
Commando helps the day
07-Aug-2013 02:27:55 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]


A tent mate of mine - Manoj Verma - helped me through the first 20kms. Manoj is ex-commando of the highest order (black cat) from the Indian Army and had a troubled ankle yesterday, but ran like a machine today. I just followed him in the first 20kms which helped me finish relatively early. The last 15kms were extremely tough as it was only uphill through and through. One of the most beautiful scenary as we passed through  - geothermal springs, lake, fields with horses, etc - but a very painful last stage. Glad that it is over and we have done 177kms so far, 73kms more to go.

As we go through the days I am reminded of the movie Avatar: “the lines are beginning to blur, is this the real world or unreal world?”. With no connectivity to the outside world, no idea about what the markets are doing, what are top headlines, etc.? We are in our own world getting up everyday thinking that running 40kms everyday is what we are supposed to do without caring for anything else in the world.

Tomorrow is a long day with 63kms, need to rest and recover for tomorrow. Last day is relatively easy 10kms.

P.S: Shloka and Vedika thank you for the lovely comments. Also a big thanks to all who have commented, the encouragement helps me each day...
More limping than I have ever seen...
06-Aug-2013 02:45:54 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Today was a rather short day with only 43kms but the terrains were tough especially the last patch of approx 11kms. I started offf strong and had company for almost 20kms post which I was on my own. Through the last 11kms there were hard stones and my feet were hitting the same spot, so instead of walking on stones I decided to change the strategy and ran hard on stones. In hindsight this was the best thing to do as I managed to finish early and had only 1 blister in exactly the same place as day 1. Have managed 137kms so far from 250kms. So getting there gradually...

Injuries:
As I reached the tents almost everyone was limping. In terms of no. of limpers per sq metres the tents have the highest density. As the days progress injuries are mounting as it is almost a vicious cycle - you get an injury and you start walking/running differently and leads to more injuries. Unfortunately cannot do this on a race which has 3 more days to go. 

With my blister popped and treated getting ready for tomorrow‘s 40kms.

P.S: Shloka thank you for the nano ipod. It has some children‘s song, but I will take anything now for entertainment. Vedika the face that you drew on the card is great and keeps me entertained when I think about it...

Inventory still running high, losing 600gms a day...
05-Aug-2013 02:30:47 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Inventory referred to is my bagpack. Each day food is approx 600gms or so, as a result over the last 2 days my pack is 1.2kgs lighter and I think, my body is also losing similar amount each day. Waiting to get to day 4, when hopefully my pack will be significantly lighter.

Coming to today, it was really hard with different terrains - gravel, sand, hard stones, etc -and to add to the problem, the wind was furious (strong would be an understatement) and distance was approx 48kms. So I have now covered 94kms in two days. The blister was ok today and no new ones popped. I must thank Arvind Sirohi for today on blister help. All novices are learning on blister therapy from the race veterans. I didnt know until yesterday that there are two types of blisters - the regular ones and the blood clot ones. You are not supposed to pop the former, but serious runners go for it too. Well, we are all learning here...

Our tent:
Some interesting aspects of our tent which starts off as a mini operation theater the moment we land up post the day as everyone is popping blisters, applying pain relief  cream, bandaging, etc. Then it turns into a recovery room for the night with less than elbow stretch space to spare between two sleeping mats. And then in the morning as we are ready to leave it turns into an outpatient clinic with everyone “taping“ (covering the blisters with tape), repairing all pain points, prevent chaffing (reduce friction points), etc. It is an interesting day at the tent everyday.

Off to sleep to recover for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

P.S.: Shloka thank you for packing my food, I am relishing every bit of it. Vedika I am proud of your Hindi - great work!

Trilemma and then day 1:
04-Aug-2013 02:10:04 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I am not referring to the trilemma of fiscal, current account, and inflation, but of what to pack in the bag yesterday. If you are carrying your own load, then need to find a balance between:
 
Food: Should I add more or reduce? Also what should I carry?
Clothing: Will it be colder than Reyjkavik on the start day and make my bag heavier with warm clothes?
Accessories (read luxury): Ipod, mattress, bath wipes?
 
I thought I had a slightly heavier pack at over 10kgs, but managed to pack stuff that I would need. The best decision in hindsight was to be prepared with more warm clothes and managed to buy a pair of compression pants at the last minute in Iceland. We were taken to the camp on Saturday at around 3 pm. It was a four hour journey with a brief stop at a hot gyser rising from the earth. It shot up more than 25 meters every few seconds. Camp was an unpleasant experience as it was 3 deg cel and high wind velocity. A lot of us were taken by surprise with the difference between the city temperatures and the camp.
 
Start of the day on Sunday was with strong winds blowing right through making running/walking difficult. Given the cold weather, the route was changed so it meant that we did not have to cross a stream with waist deep water today. I managed to do a mix of running and walking given that winds were very strong and there was a mix up uphill and downhill. We did pass through some beautiful glaciers through the day, but were more focussed on completing day 1.  
 
I managed to complete through day 1 and have one blister as a gift. Just back from the medical tent after get it treated from the medical staff who are amazing and very helpful.
 
Got to sign off as a queue is piling up and have only 15 mins/person. Now onto day 2.
 
P.S:  Shloka and Vedika thank you for your lovely cards, they keep me going...
HIMANSHU BAHUGUNA
RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013

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HIMANSHU BAHUGUNA
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