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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

Day 1 Finished
31-Aug-2014 02:50:07 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Today was listed as our easy day on the course. Apparently things are going to be bit difficult out here in Madagascar. We started the day from an old military base on the beaches of Madagascar. The camp was incredible, but I probably got a solid 2 hours of sleep before the race. We started off running up some incredibly sandy trails, before it opened up to a long sandy beach on the cove. There were four of us that ran the first section together (including Ryan Sandes). I probably pushed it a bit at the beginning to keep up, but how often do you have the opportunity to run the coast of Madagascar with one of the fastest ultra runners in the world.

Things got a little bit easier terrain-wise after checkpoint 1 (this is where our group split in half). There was much less sand, and was a lot flatter. At this point though the sun and heat became nearly unbearable (and it was still only 9 am). We ran through a number of really cool little Malagasy villages, where I’m pretty sure the locals all thought we were crazy. I think at this point I was in fouth-ish, but things were really a blur this morning. I also ran out of water about 10 minutes before the checkpoint, which led to a nice little panic attack.

After check point 2, the sand/ harder terrain returned. I grabbed as much water as I could fit in my bottles knowing that things were only going to get hotter and harder. At this point I was trying to figure out how I was going to survive the day, never mind the entire week. I think this is where I caught up with Andrew, who was struggling with cramping/ electrolyte issues. We kept bouncing back and forth from here until the end of the day. Things got a little bit dark towards the end of the 4th section. Luckily I had grabbed a well timed caffeinated gel to carry me to the end. The finish line today opened up to this massive white sand beach. I think I’ve swam about three or four times since finishing. It was a nice piece of paradise after a day of pain. They also had coconuts for all of the competitors to drink at our nice little tent resort.

I ended the day in third behind Ryan and a Japanese competitors 5 minutes behind him. So yeah, that was awesome (3 and a half hours-ish). My only goal today was to survive injury free, so I guess mission accomplished! Tomorrow is supposed to be harder and longer, so I think I’m in for quite a day. That’s all for now - until tomorrow!

Pre-race Chaos
30-Aug-2014 08:31:22 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

I'm a bit late starting this blog, but I guess it's better late than never. It still doesn't seem real that we are about to start another one of these races, but in 4 hours I'll be taking a bus to the middle of nowhere in Madagascar. Just to recap the last few days... The packing for this trip was surprisingly easy (or so it seemed). After the race in Iceland, I pretty much dumped all my racing gear in a drawer and left it there for the year. I did really well with nutrition last year, so I grabbed all of the same foods (instant potatoes, couscous, recovery drink, nuts, easy Mac - all the staples of a healthy diet). Everything was surprisingly really easy (even the last second airport packing worked fine!) I flew out Tuesday night from Boston to Paris (red eye number one), then had a nice 8 hour layover in the Paris airport. I was switching airlines, so I had to grab my checked in bag in Paris. Well, when my bag finally showed up, it was wrapped up in plastic. Apparently there had been some sort of accident with my bag, and one side of it had been ripped to shreds. As I was going through the bag, I noticed a few big things missing (recovery powder, some clothes). I also found a few extra things in it, proving that my bag wasn't the only one that had had a bad day (an extra shoe and an umbrella). This put me into a panic because I didn't know what from my gear was actually missing. So in the middle of the Paris airport I emptied out all my luggage (including my carryon). After going through my own gear check, I noticed the only things missing were food, my recovery powder, tape, bug spray, suntan lotion, safety pins, and some of my non-race clothes. So yeah, I wasn't missing anything that would have been hard to replace. After a day in the airport, I had my next red eye from Paris to Madagascar. Now, apparently there is a battle going on between Air France and Madagascar. A few of my friends had been on the previous day's flight, and ended up diverted to Reunion. They were about 100 meters from landing on the runway in Madagascar, when the airport turned off all of the lights on the runway and forced them to abort the landing. Luckily, my flight was only delayed a few hours from the strike as it sounded like the diverted people went through a nightmare trying to get to the race. Madagascar has already been a crazy/ awesome experience so far. It felt weird having a full day off before the race (instead of rushing in last minute). It has been great catching up with a lot of my friends who frequently race in these events. I need to head off to gear check right now, but I will be blogging at the end of each day. The race starts tomorrow with a nice warmup 20 miles across the beach. Until then!
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RALPH CROWLEY
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

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