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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Final 10Km
08-Sep-2014 09:40:18 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Victor and I spent about 1.5 hours for the last 10Km. He has been so kind to wait for me. I heard him sing this time to cheer me up. ha.It was motivating to see everybody starting at 7am ran for this last bit. I couldn't allow myself to walk or slow down. This was the moment that I felt pulling out my potential and stretch as I forced myself to keep running even not in a fast pace. I remember once said to me "Keep your momentum, and you will go far!" "Putting one step in front of another" was another quote from a friend that kept me going. It was such a remarkable feeling while running the last km on the road with locals and childrens cheering for us on the side. Police was opening the road for the competitors. We speed up for the last 200m once our timing chips got beep. Actually, I gained two pounds once I weighted at my home sweet home today. I think part of my fat changed to muscles :) I thought I would have lost a couple pounds of water. This course has been a worthwhile experience that will last with me in a life time. I'm so blessed to have met Samantha on another race earlier and learnt about RTP and Madagascar. Thanks Riitta and course team for organizing such a beauitful event. Of course, a big thanks to the lovely volunteers and medical team that didn't rest too well for the whole week, busying taking care 230 competitors with a cheerful and caring smile. Will I do another one? Let"s see.....
Stage 5
05-Sep-2014 09:04:50 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

How I would like to conclude this Long March is ‘A Solitude Night’. Victor and I completed 77Km in 20.5 hours. With the experience of Trailwalker, we understand how important is to pace ourselves well. We agreed not to stay for too long at overnight checkpoint; Otherwise, it’ll be difficult to turn on the engine. We were very patience with the never ending markers along the road. In the day, we passed through the Grey Tsingy Reserve which is formed by coral and erosion. Luckily, we saw a lemur and some birds in this wetland. Around 5pm, the twilight was full of my favourite colour – orange, pink, light and dark blue.

I didn’t feel too exhausted after this day. Perhaps my body get used to the multi-day exercise. Stretching day and night have helped me to recover faster. However, I got two more blisters after crossing two rivers in the dark last night. I changed into flip flops while crossing it. Unfortunately, after Victor reminded me to beware of losing the slipper as the current is quite fast, by the moment I stepped on land, I couldn’t get hold of my left flip flop and seeing it went with the current. At the camp, I was wearing a sock and a flip flop. What an odd feeling. Thankful to a volunteer who gladly lend me his slippers to save my foot for two more days. It’s better than losing my hiking shoes. It’s disgusting touching my pony tail as hard as a paint brush; seeing my fingertips full of soil; touching my chapped sole of my foot.

We kept a constant pace during the day. My pace started to slow down a lot after taking some hot food and drinks at overnight checkpoint around 7;30pm. We stayed for half an hour. My right sole felt discomfort when hitting the concrete pave each step. By reaching 9pm, I started to feel sleepy, wandering left and right. Victor was trying to wake me up by telling his life stories and he was about to sing if story telling didn’t work. Ha. For this 12Km, we spent a long time of 4 hour. In my mind, I know that I really need to use my will power to overcome my fatigue body; Otherwise, we would need to expose under the sun the next day if we couldn’t get back to camp by morning. I put on Deep Cold Gel on my ankle, massage a bit. Legs were relief. I played my favourite Celine Dion album. Suddenly, I changed to an electric rabbit. We reached 10K in 1;45mins; another 8.7K in 1;45mins under glowing stars. We finally reached at camp by 4;30am while most competitors had been resting. Around 20 competitors were behind us still. These few days, around 30 competitors have dropped out from the course. We feel blessed that we made through till today and are able to enjoy the scenery.

We are resting at camp today and chilling out. The last competitor arrived to camp at 12;30pm with a painful expression. It was remarkable to see how they struggled the last 30K under the sun after walking for 20 hours with a sportsmanship spirit. One even sprained her arm. It was touching to see a couple proposed to one another once they crossed the finishing line today.

To Dad – The mosquito band and stickers you got me are effective. I didn’t get much bites. So I can rest peacefully at night. After stretching for more than a week day and night, I can easily touch my toes while standing and do full forward bend while seating.

To Mom – I look so much forward seeing you and Dad at the airport ad have a good meal together. I will watch out for the final 10K distance tomorrow.

To Shirley – Thanks for sharing the motivating song. Sorry that other websites are blocked. I will listen to it when I get back.

To Connie and Martin – I look forward to our gathering too. I appreciate your initiative.

To Jay – You are right about the bottle with Perpetuem. I can’t accept the awful smell after using it for 4 days. It tastes weird too. I’m using my emergency water container.

Stage 4
03-Sep-2014 02:46:08 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

YES. I’ve made it 40km before dark to campsite tonight. As I don’t quite get used to the campsite life, my tentmate started to be impatience of my noise and opening packages here and there. So sorry about that I’m quite slow on that. All slept by around 8pm and having snoring as companion. This morning, when I woke up, I felt like beaten by someone. All muscles aching, especially my shoulders. I spent some time doing stretching and lots of pigeon pose. Since my sole started to get bump, I feel better actually jogging slowly time to time. Victor and I jogged in most downwards. Today, we passed through two sacred lakes. It’s like been to an utopia. It’s so green up there from the mountain, seeing endless wilderness. We got smart this time when passing one river of the day. We took time to change to our slippers. When I got back to my hiking shoes, suddenly a snake passed by. It scared me off. Luckily, another male competitor pulled my stick and scared it away on time. The small snake looks beautiful but maybe it’s poison. We passed through what the local calls a highway. It’s like a fleet market with locals selling vegetables, children helping to monitor the station. All waved at us and saying “Ohiyo”. Guess we look like Japanese.

To Dad: You reminded me to bring larger towel as my shoulder pad incase the bags are too heavy. I didn’t bring it with me as I brought towel tablet. But gladly, I used the buff to make it a small cushion. It has been successful. I just dropped my bag twice today after 5 hours. Previously, I was dropping it on floor like 10 times. Haha.

To Mom: I have been missing many yummy food while I was wandering on the road, aiming to the finishing. Ie. Shanghainese dumpling, Yeung Chow Fried Rice, Shanghainese egg yolk, and of course Dad’s signature dishes – seafood. Even a bowl of rice I would be very much satisfied. I feel bored with my morning breakfast – milk powder after 4 days though they are nutritious. I was smelling neighbour’s instant noodles.

Jay and Agnes: Thanks for your great tips from you both experienced members. I reminded myself to keep smiling when I’m struggling. I need to pay attention not to focus too much on one leg. Otherwise, I’m afraid it’ll be overload. Cana always got back before us. He’s in good shape. Victor is unbelievable strong and with good pace. I was following his strategy ha.

Patrick an HR Team: Thanks for checking me out. I really miss you guys. I know it’s weird that I couldn’t update you all about what’s happening here. All good. I’ll make through it. Today, I kind of get used to the weight, routine and strategy. Indeed, it’s a big challenge. In midway, I feel watery eyes looking at the strong sun. Seeing children and locals running around with rooster, goats, cows with barefoot under the soft sand make it feels ‘Life is tough, yet simple as it is’.

For those who loves nature, this is the perfect course. I feel so tiny when soaking into the Savanah. Tomorrow, it’s the Long March 80km non stop with an overnight rest point. Cross my fingers not to get injured or more blisters.

Sunshine…light me up.
Stage 3
02-Sep-2014 01:59:37 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Today I’ve completed 42km in 12 hours, the longest I’ve ever experienced. I was starving near the end. Once I reached the campsite just by its cut off time 7pm, I dropped my bag and rushed to reheat my food. I finished them in just a second. Then, I rushed to the Cyber Tent by its closing time 8pm.

The scenery we passed through today was magnificent. We started on a sandy beach, then to Red Tsingy zone where we walked next to this heritage site and on its river bed. I love the Savanah view. It’s like being wild in the Safari land. Victor and I kept motivating each other. He gave me a hand when passing tree lodge over stream, waited for me whenever I dropped my bag to rest. Some route today was quite technical with random stones, climbing over rocks. Before crossing the finishing line at campsite today, we had to walk pass about 300m river up to knee level. I had to watch out for those million of stones down there. More blisters are coming out. I hardly get blisters in HK during training. So I really need to get help from teammate or medical team here.

I tried to dry out my socks and lingerie at night, but it turned out they were still quite wet. I thought it’s dry here. I was pinning two pairs of socks behind my backpack, Victor was teasing “Are you selling socks?” haha. Socks were dry afterwards but they turned to be so hard and not soft at all.

uckily, I slept alright these nights. 7 of us shared a tent. I didn’t get much mosquito bites at this point.

To dad: Fortunately, you reminded me bringing a pair of gloves. After holding the hiking poles for two days, bumps haven’t come out yet, but the sun is strong here, back of my hand is red. I put Vaseline on and started using the gloves today. Much better.

To mom: I got your message. Please pass my updates to dad. I stick Salonbase muscle relief stickers on my shoulders and back each night.

Gary, Martin, Connie, Shirley, Candice: Thanks for all your support. I was thinking all of you while I’m fighting for the last difficult stages.

I’ll keep updating this blog, so you know where I’m up to and safe. 4 more days to go to reach 250Km.

Stage 2
01-Sep-2014 02:00:57 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Another exhausting day, completed 46km in 12 hours. Yesterday did 36Km in 8.5 hours. What an interesting course today starting with beaches, erosion rocks, bushes, bumpy hills, Baobao forrest (my favourite), rice paddies, sandy and dirt road, passed about 5 river streams up to knee levels and many small villages. The level of the sand here is like been to Sahara or something (though I’ve never been there). The most adventurous part was crossing a long tree branch above a stream…really testing our balance. Another one was crossing muddy rice field. It sucked my whole shoes in. Luckily, with the help of Cana, he pulled me up. I don’t think I’m keeping my hiking shoes when I get back. Haha..extremely dirty.

I’m glad that I have my Deep Cold Gel with me. I’ve been applying on my shoulders many times today to loosen up the muscle. They are hard as rock. Thanks to Victor waiting for me every time I put down the heavy backpack twice in an hour. Thanks Cana to help me reorganize the weight of my backpack, putting my flip flops at back as cushion.

By the time we got to the camp site, it was 7:30pm. We just made it to their original cut off time. It has been extended for an hour. Some members are still out there. I need to clean up my clothes, shoes, socks and refill energy, then rest early for another 40Km tomorrow. It’s just the 2nd day of race. It seems a week already =)

To my coach (Dad): You are right about the socks. I should have gotten more cushion ones. After touching water and friction from the sand, blisters are coming out. I’m wrapping my front sole with paper tape. Shoulders are my weakest. Back is strong. Arms are good too for controlling the poles. I miss the massages.

To my equipment checker (Mom): You reminded me about the vest. I should have brought that over as night is windy and that is light. I didn’t even bring the heavier red wind breaker. I just got the thin Mont Blanc one. It’s fine with the weather at the moment.

To Janis: I got your message. Thanks for your greeting. Victor is strong. He guided me a constant pace and reminded me to drink water and keep eating.

Don’t worry, I’m enjoying every moment…no shower, no cleaning of clothes, no hair washing. I can’t believe I haven’t look into a mirror for a few days already. Quite busy once we get back to camp and wake up for race, getting prepared for breakfast, queue for toilet and hot water. I’m a wild girl..ha

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NATALIE YIU
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

Hometown
Hong Kong

Profession
HR Officer at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

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NATALIE YIU
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 competitor

Bio

I"ve worked for Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for 8 years, rotating from different departments and land on Human Resources field within the hotel. I enjoy working in the hospitality industry as you get to meet lots of interesting people. We get to travel to stay at other FS properties to taste the experience as a guest. So we learn to "treat others as you would like to be treated". I studied Hospitality and Tourism Management in Toronto.

Hometown
Hong Kong

Profession
HR Officer at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

Why are you competing?
For a new challenge and to learn more about
myself, test my limits and tolerant.

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