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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Final Reflections.
12-Sep-2014 03:21:37 AM [(GMT+04:00) Abu Dhabi, Muscat]

The last 10k were brutal on my poor blister ridden feet. I literally had to drag my left foot and leg the whole way and this caused pain in other areas of my body but I pushed myself as hard as I could, I wanted to finish. When I crossed the finish line I felt elation mixed with various emotions. Was this it? How was I meant to feel? Elated, happy, sad it was all over? It had been such an intense week that had constantly involved racing, packing, sleeping and eating that I had not had time to process everything. I was as far removed from my 'normal' life as could have been possible - I have never been camping for longer than one night, I have never completed a marathon before let alone six, I had never not had access to some form of running water to wash in, I had not shared a room with seven other people since I was backpacking, certainly never in this close proximity....for this reason I loved what I was doing, how far can you challenge and push yourself out of your comfort zone really shows strength of character, however it also meant I had to adjust quickly. It was not easy. I felt some seriously dark moments on the course and in the middle of the night; that made me question everything I was doing.

 

The amazing parts of the week were my tent mates; I imagine not everyone is always so lucky. We had a real mix of personalities with different strengths and weaknesses. We woke up laughing every day, even near the end of the week when we were all exhausted and battling our demons, and I loved that. We were read poetry before we went to sleep each night by the lovely Matt, who had the most soothing hypnotic voice - I can’t tell you how this helped me relax after the long days on the course. We teased and made fun of each other, I was constantly told to 'suck it up' by Susan if I wanted a moan about an ache or pain, a little harsh at times however it did work and made me realise that I do have a tendency to complain sometimes!

 

Furthermore, some parts of the course were stunning, the scenery breath taking and I am pleased to have had the opportunity to seen them so closely and on foot. Going through the villages was a real eye opener, makes you realise and appreciate what you have in life, though the locals looked happy and they cheered us along as if we were life-long friends. This was hugely motivating at times.

 

The most difficult parts were the food, I lost my appetite pretty quickly and had to force stuff down most of the time just to make sure I was taking in enough calories. I also found I couldn’t keep my utensils clean for eating, a very minor thing but it really made me hate the thought of meal times as I just felt I was eating dirt. Also, the lack of toilets were obviously a challenge, however given that this was a big issue for me initially I think I adjusted well and did what I could given the circumstances!

 

Mostly though in hindsight and reflection I had an amazing, life changing experience. The comradery on the course was fantastic and even on the last 10k people running past me shouted messages of support and encouragement to keep me going – I met new friends for life and have some amazing memories with me forever.

 

Long march DONE!!!!!!
05-Sep-2014 09:54:22 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So much to say about the day. Started off really badly as I was in so much pain I nearly didn’t make the cut off time for the first check point. If I had been 5 mins later I would have been disqualified. Then all of a sudden things started to happen, a girl gave me an extra pain killer which gave me a boost, another competitor gave me her walking sticks which meant I could lean on something to take the pressure of my feet and then I ended up following a local boy who set the pace to check point two in which I completed in record time and meant I was back in the game!

Then I was flying for the next 40k, I felt strong, fast and healthy….kept an excellent pace and flew through all the check points.

Then it got dark, so I paired up with a buddy as it was safer, however the last 30k was the toughest of my life. I had to push myself in ways I didn’t know was possible. The last 8km to the finish line I was hallucinating I was so tired. The road just went on and on and without the support of Sky (my buddy) I may not have made it. But I did!!!!!

19 hours of non stop walking. My feet are done, I have pus, goo and swelling on every toe. I couldn’t walk at all today and it has taken me most of the day to walk over the computer to type this but I wanted to let you all know that I did it! :)

I have one last 10k to the finish line tomorrow to try and do to collect my medal, I have three hours to do it in…in theory this should be more than enough time but given the state of my feet I may need to start now!

Love you all – thank you for your support and wonderful message. They mean more than you can believe.

I cant believe I am almost an true ultra marathon athlete !!! (though next time Emily and I will go on a spa break instead!!)

Stage 4
03-Sep-2014 02:53:47 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Day 4 done… J

Sorry I didn’t update yesterday, was absolute exhausted and grumpy when I got home and went straight to bed. Day 3 was mentally tough, but buddying with Emily really got me through it. We walked through some stunning terrain and mountain ranges, and as tired as we were we did our best to enjoy them.

Today was much better, only issue is my feet….every toe has a blister underneath and all the skin is hanging off. They were very difficult and very painful to walk on today and I need to somehow get 80k out of them tomorrow. I am totally up for the challenge, and will push myself as far as I can….lots of painkillers and positive thoughts.

Madagascar is a lovely country. The people are very friendly, and through every village you get groups of locals cheering you on. Very motivating and lovely to see.

Sleeping has not gone well, basically I have not slept for four days and am running on adrenalin. My salt pills have caffeine in them and I think that is half the problem…lesson learnt not to do that again. I hope to get some good rest tonight in order to have extra energy for tomorrows long march, if not I may have to pop extra caffeine to keep me wake and to keep my legs moving.

Just FYI 80k should take me about 18-20 hours, that is 20 hours of continuous walking after I have already completed 4 marathons! Pray for me and my feet to hold up. If I get through that then I am more or less done.

Love you all XXX
Stage 2
02-Sep-2014 01:46:22 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Day two was pretty brutal – 46km of nightmare (the furthest I have ever gone, even when training).

We went through muddy wet rice fields, we crossed dirty rivers up to our thighs, we went on bridges which were literally two logs tied together. I cried a lot at check point 3 but felt better for it!! Was heading home, starting to feel more positive when we hit one last rice field full of water and mud. Just when you think you are done they give you one more obstacle.

Got home at 6pm, 11 hours of walking overall.

4 major blisters which have been dressed, one cut to the leg, a knock to the head on a low branch and a splinter. So plenty of souvenirs from the day ;-)

Fitness wise I feel ok, however my feet are sore and I only have 12 hours rest before I have to start again. Plus my shoes are soaking wet and wont dry before tomorrow. Am taking it day by day and will only do what I can. 42k tomorrow over similar terrain.

One of the major things that kept me going was making you all proud. I was thinking of all your positive words of encouragement before I left and this gave me a major boost.

82km now done!

Emily, arrived home at 7:30pm, she won’t have time to blog but she is looking good and remarkably strong. Her feet seem to be holding up and do not have too many blisters. She loves you all and will update you herself when she can.

Our Partners
PAULA BRAITHWAITE
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

Hometown
Dubai

Profession
Manager of Quality & Administration at Raffles Hotel in Dubai

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PAULA BRAITHWAITE
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 competitor

Bio

Hometown
Dubai

Profession
Manager of Quality & Administration at Raffles
Hotel in Dubai

Why are you competing?
A personal goal I have set myself - I have never
done anything like this before, and was not
particularly fit as of the start of the year. I am
enjoying the intense training and pushing myself a
little more each time.

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