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    Gobi March China 1 Jun 2014
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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Blogs

31-Aug-2014 05:31:17 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Camp 1 – we’re at a disused French foreign legion base an hour or so round the coast from Diego Suarez. Our outlook is a stunning bay backed by some low hills. The old fort stands out on the headland with its guns still on their carriages in a concrete bunker - the biggest guns you could imagine. Got camped OK – our tent No 21 is named Marofato, (malagasy for Marofato ;o)

Tonights meal was rehydrated veggie chilli with crunchy kidney beans! – think I might leave it a little longer next time. Some of the local folk are doing some singing and dancing, which is adding to the atmosphere as the sun sets - the reddest sunset!.

The camp is planted amidst a field of bushes that have shed their thorns all over the place – so my superlight and compact inflatable sleeping pad is staying in its wrapper tonight – best laid plans!

We’ll that’s it for now. Going to bed down and try to be fresh for the first stage tomorrow - approx 23 miles on Sunday, then 27 the next day.

Thanks for the couple of messages if you sent them and I’ll update again tomorrow night



Chill out time
30-Aug-2014 08:22:29 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

4 fliights and 27 hours and shazam! Welcome to Antsiranana aka Diego Suarez. A tourist brochure would describe here as an eclectic nix of decaying remnants of the French colonial era mixed with Malagasy subsiistence. The average wage here is under 1 dollar a day and I can't help but feel humbled at the toil and patience of the folk trying to scrape that living by their stalls selling anything from fresh vanilla pods to nuts and bolts. So this is a difficult location to hold a race and the competitors briefing reminds us to be safe and conservative in the conditions. Its all well thought out though and little by little we're finding out more details of the route. Made lots of friends amongst the competitors and thinking its going to be a memorable week. My pack is packed for the last time; all non-essentials removed and its undoubttable heavy when I lift it but most important is its comfortable to wear so I'm good with it. We have final kit checks coming up at noon and then after lunch we head for camp 1 which is at the old Foreign Legion base around an hour or so south east from the town. We camp down there tonight and hen we start the first race stage at 8 am - roughly 23 miles tomorrow then around 27 the next day. Trying to relax, contain the anticipation and absorb every moment all at the same time! ..inhale, count to 3 ....and breath...
Ready - or not!
27-Aug-2014 08:43:34 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Well that's 40 litres of kit in a 30L pack! It's been packed and repacked and I still have a few permutations to try at the other end. Checked in on the flight too- just need to check what kind of plane it is tomorrow to see if the pack will fit the overhead locker: if not I'll be re-enacting the luggage scene when Ben Stiller got plane rage on Meet the Fockers! Now to sleep. Safe travelling friends and see you in Diego Suarez. Ciao x
13 miles and 13 days - lucky for some!
18-Aug-2014 02:16:00 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Feeling amazing after my weekend race: for 1 1/2 hours yesterday I had the same heart, lungs and legs I had when I was in my teens and ran a lifetime best over 13 miles. So good that my team-mates came out to see me finish 15 minutes after I'd already past the road where they were waiting! I don't know where that come from as I haven't trained for road racing at all - I guess it just feels good to take the pack off and let it go!! 

Today is a slightly different story, with my feet feeling like they had a cameo role in the film Midnight Express - if you've seen it you'll know what I mean. Fortunately just tired and nothing damaged so now I'm planning to take things really easy and save what I've got for Madagascar - pacing there will need to be much more sedate or I'll never finish..

I can feel the weight of anticipation building now with everyone saying it's nearly time. Just think positive thoughts, rest and stay healthy  - looking forward to meeting my fellow adventurers too!!
Last pieces of the puzzle
18-Aug-2014 02:13:47 AM [(GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London]

The last couple of weeks have been more about mental preparation and organisation than physical training: going through kit lists, rechecking medical articles and flight arrangements etc etc. 

That's not to say the training hasn’t been tough. Last week included a total of 3 hours running with the full pack (8kgs dry) . Earlier experiments taught me that long efforts at a full run with the pack over 6 kg leads to shoulder and calf niggles so over the year  I've mixed shorter hard efforts with some longer ones at lower weight and some full days in the mountains walking with a heavier pack. Pretty much all my runs are on hilly trails so there haven't been any easy ones! 

Of course, all the above is just nervous babble - me trying to talk up my confidence, when I have a host of worries about heat, mosquitos, stomach bugs, you name it! Anyway, enough of that; 2 weeks today I'll be on the flight to Antananarivo ready to start the adventure of a lifetime! 

Stop-press: with 5 of us racing Madagascar from our village Gargunnock, the group has decided to support the STV appeal, which funds projects to assist child poverty in Scotland. You may ask why such a late decision to support a charity when we've been preparing for this event for over a year. I can't speak for anyone else but I felt there was a real risk of having to pull out through injury somewhere along the way and didn't want it on my conscience having had people commit donations only for me to call it off. Now, at this point, God willing and if I stay careful, I'm running out of chances to mess up! so hopefully friends and family will look upon our trip as a true challenge worthy of their interest and donations. 

This weekend I'll be racing the 13 mile run leg in a triathlon team relay up at Aberfeldy , which is hosting the British middle distance championships this year. For the previous 5 years I raced this event solo so teaming up this time will be fun and interesting - I've missed my bike training this summer but I can soak up the atmosphere and get in a quick 13 miler - then the next 2 weeks will be taking things a lot easier. Ah, rest, do I remember that??
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RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014

Gargunnock, Scotland

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Works for Emerson as the Global Field Services Director for Flow Lifecycle Services. I joined the company over 20 years ago and spent most of that time managing field services in the oil and gas sector. I didn't go to university straight out of school but joined the Navy instead and caught up on my education later by studying in my own time for BSc hons and MBA while working full time.

Gargunnock, Scotland

Global Field Services Director

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