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Live Race Coverage
13 - 19 May 2012

RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 Blogs

Beyond the finish
20-May-2012 11:39:48 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

2 showers, 2 shaves, 2 lunches and 2 dinners - and perhaps a little more than 2 beers....That was my schedule in the hours after the final run in to Petra. Recovery is well under way ! A great banquet dinner and the honour of joining my dream teammates to collect the winners plate to the applause of all - the MARCH takes team victory!! It's been amazing!! Kia Kaha L.
The finish !
19-May-2012 01:34:19 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Wahey ! The final final day is done. A short stage into Petra. We finished right outside the treasury - amazing. Now showered and having my first beer - yummy ! A final thanks to all. Ollie cheers for sorting the chateaux - cant wait. And the final thank you to all my family in NZ And the Uk. And last my amazing dream teammates - a blessing and a joy to share the struggles with the amazing Blain and the incredible Sophie - two of the best. So thats it from me. That's a 1000km of desert running over 4 seven day races in 4 countries - maybe a nice round number to close the desert chapter on.... L
Stage 5 - 2
18-May-2012 03:45:57 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The final post ! So, had a snooze and got some dehydrated chicken korma with rice down my throat and things are of cause looking quite cheery. Body is in cracking shape all things considered. As per the last post its not easy to see under all the grime but no serious issues appearing.


The prize for best body part must surely go to my feet. I am in total awe of them. Granny wrote 'An Ode to a Carrot' and I think I need to do the same for my feet. I have smashed them to pieces day after day and they have excelled. Not a single blister all week - when people have skin hanging off all over. In the final 10km yesterday my shoe lace loosened and I knew leaving it would deliver a blister but chose not to tighten it (seems mad now, but at the time it made perfect sense - the feet had performed and they were to be repaid with a small skin sacrifice). The resulting token blister is an embarrassment to the journey but a testament to their power.


Since my last blog this morning there has been another download of emails. Great to hear more from Team Olswang - Sara, please keep using the mag - the psychic powers helped! Tommy, great to hear from you and glad to hear you've whipped everything in to shape. Mum, Dad, Carlene thank you for your new messages and those all week. Counsin Dale - looking forward to seeing you next week and regaling the stories over a beer.


Nicki, looking forward to calling you first tomorrow when it is all over. You should tell Finlay that Daddy has carried his picture on the back of his pack all week, just like in the Atacama. Lots of people have confirmed how cute he looks.


Righto, time to sign off this final time. See and speak to you all soon and thank you each very much.



Stage 5 - 1
18-May-2012 03:45:35 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Day 5 is dust! A monster slog. Difficult to describe the day without swearing, so lets pause before trying. Instead, I thought I might describe life off the course. In many ways it is the aspects I haven’t mentioned to date that add to the challenge.


We sleep under a rough textile canopy that is strung across a couple of branches and poles. It is completely open at 1 side and often 1 end. It creates a perfect funnel to channel the desert winds and their passengers, the endless weight of desert sand. But the sand has only 2 functions in this desert – to fill every human crevice while one is attempting rest and to eliminate all traction on every climb. What it never does, and must never do, is provide a soft floor for sleeping. For that, this desert offers the companionship of rocks – angry, nasty rocks. Rocks that haven’t spent a lifetime rubbing shoulders with their buddies until they’re nice and round.  These rocks don’t have friends. They snarl and snigger and target whatever soft human tissue is available and not already a bruised mess.


But of course we don’t actually sleep. We lie there wondering what we are doing and trying to work out whether there is life without piercing pain. Patches of sleep might be snatched between the seized hip flexor causing pain to ripple up your body and the shooting pain in the left shoulder you fell on at some earlier point that no longer matters. But it doesn’t feel like it. You see each hour pass and at some point you give up and go for a walk, just to experience pain in a different body part.


You feel the rapid physical degradation but you don’t see all of it. You haven’t seen your reflection since last week - a good thing no doubt. You don’t wash and you marvel at the different layers of dirt that now crust your entire body, each layer counting the hard days on the course. Cuts have been left to bleed and the hardened blood is left where it chose to end its journey downward. There isn’t much left to eat. Most of the food you have carefully carried all week has been eaten but what’s left can’t be faced. Is it possible to neither eat nor sleep? It seems preferable. But you know you must try and force a final few calories down your throat.


But hey, that’s just the melodrama of a tired man. Things have actually gone well. All 3 of us are in relatively good shape. Many people have suffered more and still smashed through it. Which must bring us to the run yesterday. It was brutal beyond words. It was always going to be long, but no one was ready for the hills – endless hills. Maybe 40 or 50km, maybe more  –non stop. But we all ran well. We started at 7am as usual and came in just after 11pm. We never took a break. We blew through most checkpoints in 1 or 2 minutes. At hour 12 we were still running the rare downhills we encountered. But it was tough. Super tough. I am typing this at 11am, 28 hours after the start and people are still coming in.


So as things stand, sitting here looking out across the Mars landscape things are good. Depleted but not defeated. And actually, just maybe, with a wry smile reflecting what we have achieved.


I can send one more blog, which I’ll do later today. Recovery is rapid. I think the next blog will be a very happy affair! As indeed this one is already. So, to you guys and all your great messages – thank you! Nicki, tell Finlay I found some chooks as he requested. They looked quite happy chilling under their koop as I ran past. Thank you for all your lovely emails - not long now until I speak to you both!!


Righto – until the next and last blog!


Stage 4
16-May-2012 06:52:49 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Day 4 - done - phew! Today was a Buzz Lightyear day - there were glimpses beyond the infinity glass. Moments when the horizon was (briefly) below us, rather than above - yes, there were times when we actually ran downhill! Even moments when the sand was hardpacked and even, yes even, some rock and hard packed earth. But like all desert mirages it was fleeting. It wasn't long until we returned to our friend the infinity glass.


So what really happened? We started well. Ran solidly for 2 hours. Cleared the first checkpoint in about 1 hour 15, which is good running in an undulating desert (today I logged 47c at 3pm). Coming in to checkpoint 2, about 2 hours in, the horizon shifted ever upwards and the sand grew ever softer. No idea how long it went on - maybe 40 mins maybe more. It was horrid. I hit the wall hard. It was head and heart breaking stuff. The jog became a walk. The walk became a weave. The next stage was KO. We struggled on (me really, Blain and Soph appeared to be holding things together better than me). We finally made CP2 and I was spent. There wasn't much left in the tank and I wasn't sure the tank still took fuel. Alina (one of the organisers) asked me if I was ok and I nearly - very nearly - burst in to tears. It took a second to speak - had I tried sooner it wouldn't have been words coming out of my body.


Now, I know I may worry folk by telling that story but you mustn't worry. In fact, it is a good news story. I trucked on, told the team the real position and we adjusted our pace like the dream team we are. I had a word with myself, suffered for another hour or so, and gradually came right. In fact so right I led the sprint about 1 km from the end. And I mean a real sprint. Probably faster than we have run all week. I actually felt like I was flying. It is a rare feeling - I have only ever had it before at the end of the Loch Ness marathon. I imagine it is some sort of terminal last stage of functioning but I prefer the alternative. We worked through the fatigue, fuelled well, recovered and I came right. So, a long explanation to say all is fine!


Tomorrow is the big one - but it's also the last day - just get it done I say!


Great to read all your messages. The satellite link is only once or twice a day so messages and blogs are probably a little slow. Great to hear from Team eXtreme - you need to be here! And loving the Olswang emails. Hope I left all the work files in good shape! Cheers for holding the fort and could someone send some photos to Gary - he reckons he hasn't seen any and I wouldnt want him to miss my current satorial style - but do thank him for is email.


Mum and Dad - thanks for the quotes. I repeated Granny's one more than a few times today!  Glad to hear the kids are enjoying it Carlene and Anthony - it's quite a spot out here. Good that they are enjoying Blain's blog. He is a top guy and doing well. Soph is also rocking.


And cheers for your email Ivor and Jill. Back in your running day you would have had this course Ivor.Casino loved your choice of cheese based restaurant - you will be proud of me. I have just had a slice of parmesan - bliss! Tell Tommy to email me or I shall be very cross. Nicki, sooo good to get your emails.Tell Finlay that Daddy saw lots of Camels today, and even some baby Camels. He would have been very excited. You should also tell him about the two sweeper camels that bring up the rear - and if you're last you gotta stay in front of them - the stuff of nightmares! Sorry to hear about the 5am wake up calls. But I did love his twinkle twickle strategy. Not long until I am back to share the load. And don't worry about me, I am being very safe. We are taking things sensibly and aiming for a full team finish and win. Not getting caught up in dangerous races for time or position.


Righto - time to start thinking about my dehydrated shepards pie...god I am tired of the food. Not much fun shoveling it down but its got to be done!


So, next blog after the long day. Its going to be super long. This year it is 90km which is about 10km more than previous so my next blog may be a while away - but you will get it and I will have finished.Bring it on.



Stage 3
15-May-2012 07:22:32 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Day 3 and I have realised what should have been obvious yesterday. We’re not running in an hour glass. That would suggest that time was fixed and sand was finite. Clearly that is not the case. Time is not restricted to the granular measure of 60 minutes and the sand is not conveniently limited to a fixed volume. Both time and sand are infinite. Clearly we are running in an infinity glass!! A glass of indeterminate time and volume. A glass that flows ever upward as we traverse the next sand dune.


But enough of that. What’s really happening? Well you’ve probably worked out that day 3 involved a lot more sand of the vertical nature. Less than yesterday, with some flat areas, and better scenery. But man was it hot. I took a reading of 50c at 4pm in the sun at camp! I have taken a photo to remind me of the moment….I hate to think what the temperature was when we were slogging across the reflective joy of the salt flats, or at midday as we were experiencing the pleasure of the last stage in to camp – 10.2 km of infinity  glass.


Feet are in cracking shape. No blisters. But legs are starting to fatigue. There were a few testing moments today when the legs appeared unable (unwilling?) to receive the message. Clearly they will be spoken to!


All well in the team. Blain and Soph were strong today and everyone is in good spirits.


Thanks again for all the messages. Great to hear from Team Olswang. And I loved the Finlay stories Potzy! I can just imagine him taking over the fire engine and leading the woo woo charge. Missing you both even more than all the sand in the infinity glass – please do shoot me if I ever mention leaving you guys for another desert ultra! Great to hear you’re running with us Mum. Blain and Soph loved your email. Big hello to the NZ chaps. There’s a guy out here strutting round in Speedos Bung like your good old surf club days! And hello to Sister Carlene and family. I’m wearing white camo – but I think you’ve found me in the photos now. And a big g’day to the Aussie Atacama boys. Do keep emailing me about beer and food…you’re all missed in the tent.


See ya ‘ol at the end of the next one!!


Stage 2
14-May-2012 07:08:58 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Day 2 - Who remembers Days of our Lives?? Like sand through the hour glass?? Today we were running in that jolly hour glass - up an ever increasing pile of sand!! Normally you get a bit of hard packed sand, maybe some rocks, some hard earth....No no no. Not today. We spent the whole day in 3-10 inches of super soft sand - and all of it uphill. Which takes me to the next discovery. Petra is the highest place on earth. Its the only logical conclusion. If we keep running uphill and Petra is the finish line then Everest is the worlds greatest illusion!!
But it was a bit cooler in parts today. Yesterday was pretty hot. Unofficial readings out on the course were hitting 39c. Today it was less, mostly, which was nice'ish - when I wasn't obsessing about the sand and doing a weird little dance trying to find something relatively firm to stand on.
The MARCH teammates are all in good shape. A fair few people have crashed out or pulled out - including 2 teams. A variety of issues and ailments. But don't worry, we're being super careful. Pacing smart and fueling well. Our aim from the start has been to win the team event. Quite a bit harder doing it in a team - but not for us as we all get on uber well and have a similar pace. We're not bothering about place or time - just sticking together and hoping to take the MARCH to team victory - long race and much to go wrong but we'll keep running smart.
Loved hearing Finlay's new trick. Hope all is going well in London town Nicola - I'm sure you're holding the fort with finesse in my absence. Hope you all got my day 1 blog with the Happy Mothers Day message Mum? Hello to the Auckland whanau - have the wee cousins found Jordan on the map yet? Cheers for the GP results Casino - bring on Monaco. And lovely to hear from you Borney - we'll hook up when I'm back. Eel - tell Beezer we live for those 'moments' of his. Ollie - buy it -right away - and we'd love to visit!
Righto - MARCH on - over and out
13-May-2012 02:54:58 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Day 1 is done 1! The team are all well. Great fun doing it with company. Blain has just had to take an axe to our tent to remove all the rusty nails they had left in the poles at sleeping height?! I've got a great shot for the ladies (ahem, i mean his wife) - Blain shirt off with his big guns and a big old axe in hand. Naturally we've been pointing out that a pair of pistols is old news - the pasty white skinny Camo look is definitely the modern approach....


Sandy old course today with a lot of long climbs - not steep just an endless incline. Very competitive field. As Jordan is a one off a fair few elite guys are showing what fitness means - impressive (and depressing) to watch them haul ahead as you're maxing out at full revs. Nice view from the camp. Obviously they positioned it on the top of a soft sandy hill so we could all work for our view!


Thanks for all your email messages. An inspirational and rewarding read. Sooo nice to get them.


No problems with the feet. Early days but the system is working so far. Sophi's feet are good too. She glugged a sachet of fuel and put in a storming finish. Fair to say my legs are a bit longer and I had to put in a few bursts to keep the pace.


Big hello to all the family. Hope Wales is going well wifey - the wee man is no doubt still enjoying all the new toys borrowed from his Welsh friends. Hi to the NZ family and a super big HAPPY MOTHERS DAY Mum. Hello to the Olswang family too.


Until the next blog.

Keeping it hot in the desert.


MARCHing in Jordan
11-May-2012 11:57:02 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

Set up in Jordan in the race hotel with the team. Having a couple of "Jordan River" wines - get that ! Gotta hydrate in theme! Teamates are rocking . Canadian Blain is looking strong and Gobi Soph is fit - and stitching new labels on - the rules can be a drag. Got early kit check -without water only 9 kg - never managed that light before - wahey ! Head to the desert tomoorow - next post from the sand ! MARCH on !!
Let the MARCH begin
09-May-2012 09:25:33 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

First and last post from London town.

Team mate Blain has arrived from Canada. Only a couple of beers last night and a stonking protein salad courtesy of the Good Dr. 

Hauled out all my gear (everything brand new as I have a terrible habit of throwing EVERYthing away in disgust and anger at the end of each race - convinced I'll never do another). Wee problem when I ripped in to my new desert shirt - "Looks a bit small" said Blain - err "It's a jolly Womens large" was my reply!! Nightmare! On line retailer screwed up. Much stress - ho hum. A heated voicemail at 9pm on the retailers voicemail produced a reply within minutes (at least his customer care is good). New shirt arrived today by bike courier... but its baby blue! I'll look like a complete loser in that! Just raced off to the shop in the pouring rain for a last minute replacment...!

Also picked up my shoes (the 4th !! pair I have bought in the last month. Just can't seem to find any I like...) from the cobbler who had done a great shop stitching my gaiters on. 

Not sure what else wont work/will look stupid/or have been forgotten - but it's almost too late...!

Blain popped in to the office and we squeezed our first run of the year in together. Naturally it was raining but that should all change in Jordan.

Righto - MARCH'g on - next post - Jordan!!
RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012

Palmerston North, NZ (Palmy Vegas!)

Solicitor and Partner in a London Law Firm

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RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 competitor


Palmerston North, NZ (Palmy Vegas!)

Solicitor and Partner in a London Law Firm

Why are you competing?
Like most vices, desert ultramarathons are

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