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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Day 5: Swimming the Planet
05-Sep-2014 09:32:31 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

First I want to say a big thank you to everyone emailing and commenting. It’s always really nice to have these to read at the end of each stage. The comments have been an awesome mix of hilarious and motivational (and only a few have mentioned the delicious food they are enjoying).

So yesterday was the long stage. I was pretty concerned about it, a bit for the distance and but more due to the heat. I knew I had about an hour gap behind me, and a half hour in front of me, so my plan was to be very conservative. I was going to push it hard off the start, just to see if I could sneak back on Andrew. Then, at about checkpoint 5 I was going to either pull off the gas or speed up based on where I stood (no use getting myself into serious trouble to make up a few minutes).

Everything in the morning was very runnable. The top 4 held together until checkpoint 1 (our usual pack). At that point, Ryan and Wataru sped off, and Andrew and I held together for a bit. We went down a long sandy/dirt path through a number of villages. This opened up to a pretty incredible valley, with a massive gray canyon wall. I lost sight of Andrew between checkpoints 3 and 4, when the heat really started to kick in. Apparently three or four people missed the tiny trail to checkpoint 4, and got themselves in a bit of hydration trouble (20K without a checkpoint at the hottest part of the day).

I was feeling pretty strong despite the heat through checkpoint 5 (48K ish in at around 4:20). The other three had a pretty good lead, so I decided to cut it way back and just make sure I got to the end without any issues. The next 30K was spent at a nice easy pace and taking cool down dunks in every river crossing (and there were plenty of them). I really loved this part, as the pressure was really off and I got to just enjoy the experience I was having. I ended up finishing a bit after 8 hours, and immediately crushed a bunch of my food (finally an appetite for the food I brought).

I ended up hanging out around the finish line area for a solid 8 hours, and was able to see most of my friends get in. Now we are just hanging out, talking about the foods we are craving, and waiting for the last 10K tomorrow. I’ll probably do one more wrap up blog after the banquet tomorrow night. Thanks again for all of the support, and I look forward to catching up with everyone when I’m back in the real world.


Beth Barr

Posted: 07-Sep-2014 11:19:35 AM

Hi Ralph - interesting reading your blog and learning more about the experience of being at the front of the pack…. I want to say it's been great meeting you, and your humility in spite of success is wonderful - never lose that! Your smiles and encouragement for us turtles at the back was really great - keep it up, and best of luck in Antartica!

Tom Byrnes

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 08:36:43 PM

Congrats bud, amazing finish! http://imgur.com/ir33NY8

Billy Quirk

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 05:22:10 PM

Congrats Ralph on the amazing finish. We were pulling for you throughout. Nice job finishing as top American. Enjoy these last days!

Bippy Crowley

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 04:26:39 PM

Congratulations Ralphie!!! Have fun at the banquet and safe travels home! Hope you get plenty of Wendy's when you land!!!


Posted: 06-Sep-2014 04:05:45 PM

congrats Ralph!!! to american! woo hoo!! I hope by now you are getting drunk and getting ready for the banquet. and I love that you stayed at the finish to cheer everyone on. You always do that and its AWESOME!!!! I know u can't wait to stop at every drive thru fast food when u get home. safe travels back

Kathryn McNeal

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 03:20:57 PM

Way to go Ralphie! Glad you had a good time out there and are still feeling ok. Enjoy your last day and safe travels. Kathryn

Mary Nielsen

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 01:59:35 PM

Great job out there, Ralph. Congrats on your finish! - Mary

Alan Braithwaite

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 08:43:37 AM

Wel Done Ralph... Awesome work mate.... And great to then stay and watch others come in....

Agnes C

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 06:42:53 AM

Congratulations and I must say thank you for sharing your adventures along the way! I have no doubt you are are going to finish this race with spectacular efforts and results, but not only that you always have the most amusing and fun adventures to share with us! It is such joy reading your blog although I could also feel the tough challenge. Now it's the time for chill and celebrations... I must say you are one of the funniest RTP friends I've met other than Belinda and Ash ;-p P.S. look forward to hearing you talk about your playlist ;-) Take care!

Tom Flummerfelt

Posted: 06-Sep-2014 12:15:46 AM

Nice one Ralph! A hearty congratulations...despite your lead on 5th, I expect a flat out sprint for Stage 6. Only fair.

Izzy McKinnon

Posted: 05-Sep-2014 09:51:36 PM

Congratulations Ralphie! I am so impressed. What an adventure! Can't wait for you to get home to hear all the stories. Enjoy the last day!

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