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Live Race Coverage
13 - 19 May 2012

RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 Blogs

Day 5,
18-May-2012 03:50:36 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Well its all over. The official distance was 86.5km and I finished equal 3rd with Jude and Pete, it looks like our times are a little different because of the way they individually time you in and also looks like Pete picked up a 30min penalty because he swapped out his bag. So I am sorry if I lost some bets but I left everything out there. There were 9 sections and at stage 5 I was equal 2nd for about 5 minutes but that was as close as I came. I think at the end of the day I was only 15 minutes behind the leaders. I took some great footage out there but let me give you a little more detail.

Stage 1 - We started off with a 10km stage that took us from our camp site down a canyon, was very tricky and rocky so made running tough. I just sat in the group behind the leaders and focused on getting warmed up. Stage 2 - we continued down this tight canyon following the riverbed which was partially sandy and rocky. The pack remained the same and included about 12 people. All the usual suspects from the top 15. Stage 3 - Tight canyon where it started to get very hot. I panicked a little here as I started losing power in my legs due to the constantly changing terrain - sand, rock, sand. At this stage the pack started to spread out. I was leading the group with Gus (from Australia) and the girls caught up to us. Now I had a lead on Katia but I could not afford to lose sight of her this early. I did all I could to keep her in my sights as alarm bells kept going off in my head. I started eating my food to try bonking. I was so excited to see Stage 4 checkpoint. I was low on water as well so this was a blessing. Now stage four checkpoint was at the very lowest point of the course. The next 9.5km were straight up, and when I say straight up I mean like taking 1200 steps up for 9.5km's. Not sure what it was but I was not only able to drop away my pack which included the girls and Gus but I managed to catch Rafael who was in 2nd place at the time. I have great footage from this climb, it was so spectacular that I had to record it. When I caught Rafael at Checkpoint 5 he was so surprised that he gave me a big hug. Stage 5 - now in the pre race briefing they did mention that there was climbing on this day but I thought it was concentrated on the previous stage only. Unfortunately the climbs were with us for the rest of the day, up and down, up down. My IT bands were so tight that running downhill was painful so I had to slow those down a little and the climbs were so steep that at best they were power walks (angry man walks). By the time I was heading into Stage 6 checkpoint I noticed Jude was only a couple of minutes behind me. I slowed down knowing I had a long way to go and joined forces with Jude. As we were coming over one of many ridges we had fighter planes flying over us at low altitude. It was awesome. They were so low that we could almost make eye contact with the pilots. Stage 7 & 8 Jude and I just kept pushing up the hills and running any flats or downhill but we were both running very low on food (energy). Jude has a daughter Siennas age so we had lots to discuss - we even talked about perhaps next time racing as a team. Jude is a great runner and he is about my size. He has done 2 previous races and has finished top 10 in both - He was 5th in the Sahara in 2011. When we left Checkpoint 8 we were buggered - all we wanted was for the day to end. We did not want to see another hill or dirt road with rocks all over them. We were about 2km from camp when out of nowhere Pete #2 overall at the time caught up to us and the three of us finished together. I was so glad to have the day over - I put everything into this stage!!! I knew catching one of the top 3 was going to be tough and only short of a miracle was it going to happen. Obviously injury would have been the only other option but I would never want 3rd by default so my effort was all I was relying on. We only have 5 km's left and this is more ceremonial but I am safe and will be finishing 4th overall and 1st in my agegroup.

I would like to thank you all for all your support and well wishes - when you are this isolated its remarkable how inspiring it is to read your notes. I hope that my effort has helped raise funds and awareness to ReserveAid and FACES. Knowing that your effort can help others is very motivating and I was honored to be representing both foundations. I also have to thank Goldman and Royal Bank of Canada for coming in and donating to my effort. I had also recently lost a very dear friend to cancer and I would like to dedicate this race to him - I could hear John in my head many times - "Lad its a zerda day - happy trails" - John this one was for you!!! Finally my two girls who had to put up with my early morning workouts and many missing mornings together - its very tough balancing training and being there for your family and they have both been very supportive in my quest. I love you both and appreciate all your support. Looking forward to catching up with everyone when I get back.

Day 4
16-May-2012 08:08:09 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So today was a sunny day but not as hot as yesterday. The plan was to work with a couple of other runners from yesterday and try and get through the stage in good knick so that we could all be ready for day 5. My feet are still in good condition, have one blister on the big toe and another on the second large toe so I spent a little extra time this morning taping my feet and then lubing them up for the day. Its so important to get this right - and event can be over due to a bad blister. My legs were feeling sore but nothing that should have held me back. So I settled into a nice trot with one of the Heaslop boys and Gus from the other day. We were the second pack behind the leaders and there were a number of others biting at our heals. First stage was a nice run - the boys with me looked strong and I was celebrating in my head a nice team effort for the day. Unfortunately all great things must come to an end - the second section which in the course briefing was described as moderate turned out to be anything but that. It felt like we were going up and when we got there we went higher. As a result I lost my two buddies along the second climb and was on my own for the rest of the day. I find that if I keep my feet moving - even if at a slow pace up hill or through deep soft sand I can motor on - its much harder to get going. So I started calling this my fourth gear. Get in there and just cruise. At the end of stage 2 we went through some beautiful rock formations, snapped some pics while moving so I hope they turned out. I have to say if you were ever planning a trip to this part of the world do not put it off - its spectacular and I am being told Petra is much the same if not better. We will finish at the steps of the Treasury which from my discussions will Alistair are also spectacular. So back on track - I ran the rest of the day on my own which was not part of the plan but was nice to just go at my own pace. I went through a little tough patch between section 2 and 3 but after I got more food into the system I was back to normal. I finished about 15 minutes behind the leaders and about the same ahead of the next guys behind me. I felt great between section 3 and the finish and did not stop at all. Sorry I am wrong - we had to go under the highway through a tunnel - if you guys see the pics - you will realize what a tight fit it was. It almost burned out my legs - trying to crouch down and get through it. And obviously followed up with some hills just in case the thighs did not get a good enough burn. So day 4 is done - I have a little lead from the chasing pack so still trying to figure out strategy for tomorrow. The top three guys have a nice lead but will see what the body has left in it. Tomorrow is a very hilly 55 miles  - I am a little under-trained for this day seeing that the longest I went in training was only about 20 miles but will prob start of with a slow trot through the first 6 stages and then see what is left for the lat two. Would love to run as much of it as possible but I am sure there will be some walking parts, especially the hills. But after that its all over with a nice 5km to finish off the event. Wish me luck that nothing goes wrong tomorrow and that I finish strong.

Jules so excited we have the knee pointing down. I miss you guys so much!!! & happy 16 month birthday to Sienna for yesterday. I hope ReserveAid and FACES donations are rolling in - I'm not ashamed to beg!!! Thanks for all the well wishes from everyone - its a joy coming to the cyber tent every day and reading all the comments.

Cheers everyone

Gab

Day 3 - Team OZ!!!
15-May-2012 07:55:59 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So nice to start seeing the blogs and emails coming through - was beginning to miss everyone. So the plan was to run all day - even if it meant it was going to be a slower day. I have been suffering in the last stages of every day and its so tough to come in completely destroyed. Its always the last stage that just tears me into bits - its the sand, the feet burning and more importantly the heat. Now they advertised mid eighties on their website but that is as far from the truth as we can get. I had placed my thermometer out in the sun (which obviously we are running in with no shade) and it was 110 Fahrenheit or 45 degrees Celsius. This was when I got in camp so I was lucky to miss the extremes but it felt hot. So I got into a great trot early sitting behind the top tree and a coupe of guys that went out hard. I teamed up with Jim Heaslop and we worked together pushing each other but all at a manageable pace. By checkpoint 2 we caught Jims brother Rob and we teamed up for a whole stage. It was halfway through third stage that we caught Gus (who at the time was in 4th place) and we all ran together through checkpoint 3. The best part about our little group was that we were all Aussies!!! 4 mates jogging out in the desert for shits and giggles. I had a blast and hoped the boys would have been able to keep it up so that we could all finish together. First we lost Rob who went out really hard at the beginning and then about a third of the way both Gus and Jim pulled back. I would have loved for them to stay with me but this was the first day that I did everything right, pace, nutrition, hydration it was all spot on and so I powered on  - my legs felt fresher than day 1 and I just wanted to let them enjoy the terrain. I was able to gain I think about 13min on Gus and 15ish on the brothers over the last 6.5km or 4miles. Ahhhh I hope those legs stay with me for the next two days. I do have a routine I will try and keep to and see were that gets me. Today we are half way there!!!

So I wanted to give a little info about my tent mates - Hamish I have already mentioned as we ran together day 1 - very good runner and we have been neck and neck since the start. Then we have Devrin who is also doing really well sitting in close to top 20. Kenichiro who is a Japanese runner is also doing really well just outside the top 10. We also have two other Japanese runners Tero who has the best meals - he has been sharing with me!!! and not sure of the third guys name but he is quiet. Then we also Have "Team Crazies" which is made up of Kim, Natasha and Emily. Unfortunately Emily has no skin left on her heals and they have disbanded the team and they are running as individuals - props to Emily who is still out there every day walking it in with no skin on her heals. Ten there is Lizzie from New Zealand who has taken 6 years off from racing and RTP event and she is awesome. Se gave me and Hamish a foot massage yesterday - she was a nurse in a former life. Now that I think about it - I might owe her today's results. John the great Scotsman was a volunteer at a number of events is now doing his first event. A former rugby player and a cool dude. He owes me a beer at the finish as we traded on the Crazies finishing time for day1. I just can't help myself betting!!! And finally there is James who after a drinking weekend with a former runner friend who is here volunteering decided he would sign up. He is getting it done - just for the record he did his first marathon distance here on day one. This is why I love this event - my tent is a fun, motivated and courageous group of individuals and we are bound to keep in touch way after this event. They are all great and all these daily ups and downs create a bond. We were all standing and cheering in Emily yesterday when she came in last with her bad heals!!!!

Thank you again for all the support - Jules we only have 1 day left on the sand so I think I will finish strong with my invisible gaiters. :-) Lots of hugs and kisses to you and my little princess!!! I am sure her vocabulary is increasing and I am missing it all. Thanks to everyone on the blogs - three more marathons to go and I promise to finish strong - would not want it any other way. Day 5 will be tough if the heat remains - you never know I might even catch one of the BIG three.

Cheers everyone - Gab

Day 2
14-May-2012 07:00:25 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So last night I passed out from exhaustion around 7pm and got some great zzzzz's in. Woke up at 4:30am to start the preparation for day 2. Started with a nice strawberry and porridge and then the long and tedious process of preparing the toes for the day. Each toe is individually wrapped with tape and then Vaseline is added to stop any friction. I use Injinji socks with individual toe spots like a glove. Then I packed up my sleeping bag, and mat and prepared my pack for the day. This process takes about 2hrs - not very exciting but everything needs to be perfect. So this morning we were blessed with some cloud cover and obviously this once again meant that I had to adjust my plan. I decided to start of with the pack but sit just behind the leaders not wanting to burn out early. I was able to separate myself from the rest and ran most of the day in 4th place. It was not until half way through the last stage that one of the top women came by me as if I was standing still. Very impressive!!! I was able to hold off the leading lady from catching me so I finished in 5th place again. to be honest the top 3 guys are in a league of their own and catching any of them will not be a small feat. My plan is to stay within striking distance and you never know what happens on day 5 when we have a 55mile day. I got a compliment from the #2 runner today - he came by our tent when we finished and he said that for my size he does not know how I do it. he said if I can lose another 25lbs at least I will be much faster. hmmm I might just remain the way I am. My body is feeling ok for now but I have three blisters and they might not survive tomorrow - there might be some drilling coming up in the next couple of days.

The scenery today was spectacular - I took a lot of photos but its hard to show how beautiful it really is out here. If you have never been to Jordan I would recommend that you add it to your list. I am being told that its only going to get better so I am very excited. Experiencing this country from this perspective has been a blessing.

Please let me know what you would like me to go into more detail - its so hard to get everything into a blog and I want to make sure I am providing as much info as I can.

Jules love the constant updates from home - miss my two girls a lot. Glad the grandparents are having fun in Slovakia and I hope the financial world has not come to an end yet. Cheers to everyone and I will keep chugging away every day - it only get tougher from here - which just means I have to keep digging a little deeper. Cross your fingers my feet stay intact and that I can avoid any injuries.

Gab

DAY 1
13-May-2012 02:04:23 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

lets just say things did not end up as planned. Lets backtrack a little and star from the beginning. We left Amman yesterday at 1pm and did not arrive to camp until 6pm. Very long bus drive which was halted with numerous toilet breaks . Imagine 150 athletes drinking fluids all day to make sure they are properly hydrated and then attempt to confine them to a bus for 5 hours - obviously that was a fail. The camp site was spectacular, huge ancient mountains surrounded by desert. When we arrived in camp enjoyed my first of many freeze dried meals (yum yum), and then prepared my bag for an early start to the day. I try and get up as early as possible to make sure I eat early to digest before the start and then I also have plenty of time to get my gear all set and feet prepared for the battering. My big regret is that I do not have gaiters to stop the sand from getting in my shoes (everyone else has them).

So with that background here we are at the start of day 1, the daily course update calls for temperatures of +35 degrees Celsius by 11am. Mental note - I need to finish this 25mile stage under 4 hours. Now the original plan was to take it easy day one, get the legs used to running in this soft sand (Robbie or morning beach runs were great but did nothing to prepare me for the red soft sand). So I started off well - I thought the pace was very reasonable and manageable. Checkpoint one I was in and out - drankvery little of my water so was just a quick fillup, took my first salt tablet and reloaded my electrolytes. it now started to gethotter and it definitely started to effect the pace, by checkpoint 2 I was almost empty so i was glad to get in there. Another quick stop - refilled water bottles and dropped in electrolytes, grabbed my sport beans and salt tablets and just munched them down. up until now - I was running with my tent mate Hamish who I finished the last stage with in Australia and all was still ok. Now somewhere between Checkpoint 2 and 3 the wheels came off. The heat started to get to me and I started to find it hard to keep pace with Hamish so I told him to go ahead. I had alittle mini panic thinking this was going to be Australia stage one all over again. I started to walk and I started consuming my sports beans, my shot block and all my water. Now at this stage Iwas close to 17 miles into Stage 1 butif I start walking now its going to be a very slow 8 miles to the finish. I started forcing myself to walk (angry fast walk) for two minutes and then run for 3 minutes. I pulled into checkpoint 3 in 7th place which was great but if I could not recover others would catch me. I don't know what it was but after a few frustrating screams I started moving again and I started catching Jim the guy in front of me and I even pulled up to Hamish by mile 22. From there on the two of us just worked together - getting the best out of each other. Its amazing how you can lose it when your on your own but when you work as a group you get that extra little bit. So Hamish and I came in equal 5th - holding hands as we crossed the finish line (Customary when you spend almost all day working together). I felt buggered when we got in but now that I have had a chance to relax, stretch, put on my compression pants and eat and drink - I am feeling much better. So one almost marathon done only 5 more to go. My feet are still intact - have three blisters forming on my right foot - expected with all the sand in my shoes but will have to do my best in taping them and getting ready for another day.

I am having a blast - just imagine a pig in mud. Same as Gab in a desert. Will try and maintain momentum tomorrow but I think I will go a little slower at the start and see if I can finish stronger. I am already exceeding my goals so I want to make sure I have my legs for day 5. This event is not won on day 1 so please do not jump to conclusions - a long way to go and there are some great runners who are just warming up. With that thank you for all your support and look forward to your responses.

Lets not forget why I am here - please let people know of the blog and please donate to ReserveAid and FACES. The more we raise the harder I can go :-)!!

Jules and Mum- I wanted to wish you a happy mothers day - I love you both!!!

Calm before the Storm
11-May-2012 01:51:40 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So I safely arrived in Jordan after a very comfortable 11hr flight. Was able to brisk through immigration and then a nice 30 minute drive to the Hotel. Spent about two hours preparing my pack for the race - opening each meal and repackaging it into glad sandwich packs. Why you ask? Well the packs they come in are very rigid and hard to pack. For example I took my ramen noodles and crushed the noodles so that it could be packed easily. I also had to go and buy a pressure bandage at a local drug store (just like walking into a Duane Read in Great Neck). So I laid everything out and took some pictures - still can't believe all that gear fits into one small bag. I am happy to report that my bag weights less then 7kg or 15lbs. Great news because even once we add the water I will be below my training weight of 22lbs. Now I really do not have an excuse for not finishing this race. I was also able to eye out some of the competition - but unlike wrestling your not looking for the biggest guy with the ugliest ears so its tougher to spot the runners, it's never who you think it is. I was able to get the checking in for the event out of the way so tomorrow all I have is a group meeting and then I have to be ready to board a bus for a 5 hour trip to Wadi Rum where it all begins the following morning. On the plane I got a name for a great restaurant so I went for a quiet dinner on my own. I like to have some time to myself before these events. Get the mind ready - get some thinking in. I eat Middle Eastern food probably once every two weeks if not more in NY but wow that does not even compare. The humus was to die for and the mixed plate was perfect. Sides of salad and bread - I ate like a king. The service was amazing and the price beyond reasonable. I was told that the King of Jordan eats at this restaurant every week - unfortunately I did not see a king anywhere close to me. So now I am back in my room and just met my roommate Morten from Brazil ( originally from Denmark). Sounds like he has some miles under his feet - he just completed a 50 miler in Patagonia two weeks ago. I expect him to do well!! I am now going to get some zzzzzzz's so next time I blog I will be finished with stage 1. Wish me luck. I would like to thank Goldman and RBC for their generous donations and Macquarie for their commitment to match those donations. Please help support ReserveAid and FACES. Lots of hugs and kisses to my most important girls (Julia & Sienna) at home and to my no.1 support team back at the office. Gab
Jordan here I come!!
06-May-2012 09:26:38 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

This week I leave for Jordan to compete in my second Racing the Planet event. The training period was shorter then last time but no less intense with weeks and weeks of beach running along with 3 months of running with my 20lbs backpack. Now that all the training is complete I am more then 30lbs lighter in weight and eager to get out there and see what I'm made of. Racing and or competing has been a big part of my life so I am sure most of you are not surprised of my latest adventure however there is a more serious reason to my madness. I will once again be raising money for FACES and ReserveAid. FACES - Finding A Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures. The foundation seeks to help individuals and families live with epilepsy and seizures by supporting improvements in the quality of life for all those affected through clinical care, education and research. I did not know very much about epilepsy until meeting my wife. Through her experiences as a brain tumor survivor and someone who lives with epilepsy, I have learned first hand about the importance of proper clinical care, the need to educate the population about, for example, the many different forms of epilepsy (not limited to grand mal seizures one sees on TV) and to faciliate early diagnosis and of course research to further help patients reach a point that my wife has reached - Years Seizure FREE. Epilepsy affects more individuals than most people realize. Please join in my efforts to support this cause. ReserveAid makes need based grants to military families who have a Reservist or National Guard member on full time deployment or who has recently returned from deployment to a combat zone or homeland security position. ReserveAid gives away almost $65k every month to service men and women in need. These grants which are approved within 48 hours take the form of mortgage payments, assistancewith utility bills (power, heat), carpayments, carinsurance and gift cards that can be redeemed for food and or fuel at participating retailers around the country. I have never served a day in the military nor was I born here in the US, but I believe that it's my duty to assist those men and women who serve this country that I currently call home. That is the least I can do and I hope you can join me in support of our military reservists. I will be blogging from the event and I hope you can log in and follow my progress. This blog will be my only contact with everyone so feel free to respond!!
GABRIEL SZERDA
RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012

Hometown
New York

Profession
Trader

Race Stats
Equipment List

Other Races

GABRIEL SZERDA
RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 competitor

Bio

Hometown
New York

Profession
Trader

Why are you competing?
To raise awareness and fundraise for ReserveAid
and FACES

Race Stats
Equipment List

Other Races