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View All Posts From : Brian Townsend

What A Journey!

5th November 2012 09:33 AM[(GMT+02:00) Cairo]

I am back in Cairo at one of the high points thus far in my life. Thank you for all the support out there. I wouldn't have made it without hearing from everyone. I hope to have more experiences as amazing as this one, but am not sure if I will. This race was without a doubt one of my proudest accomplishments and I had more growth in my life. I have made incredible friends, saw part of the world I would never experienced and pushed myself to limits I thought I wasn't capable of. Yesterdays 54 mile 25 hour run was the hardest thing I have ever I ever done physically but beyond that mentally. I never considered the mental challenge coming into this race but in the past 36 hours I was in some very dark places in my head.  

Overall I came in 78th place out of the 146 people who started 116 who finished taking me 53 hours. If you had told me 10 days ago this would have been my result I would have probably thought this race was a huge failure. Having finishing now I am so proud of everything from finishing, my time to the people I met in this race. Reflecting back the best days were the toughest ones. If my race had been days 1,2 and 4 I would have had a much faster race, but a much different experience.  

I spent a huge amount of time preparing and training for this race. I would not have made it if I hadn't had everything dialed in. I had every calorie I would eat accounted for, every piece of gear I would need, heat training and months of running. I am not a superstar runner but a strong one and this race was very hard for me. Everything seems so manageable reading about it ahead of time, but there are so many unforeseeable challenges in doing your first ultra. I just reread my blog and am so glad I kept it for myself and the memories as well as to share with everyone. I thought they would be some more whining in them and be a bit more emotional. Instead they seemed more like a factual account of what was going on.  

Racing the planet staff, Sam, Alaina and Ross, were incredibly professional and ran the race very smoothly. The volunteers put in hours of work for nothing in return and I am so thankful to them. The medical team, which I got to know all too well, were incredible. Jay, Rob, and Joe all took amazing care of me and were constantly looking out for my health and safety.  

People really had a caring for me, my success and well being. Two people especially cared for me and I might be overstepping when I say this but loved me. Katie and Manon thank you two so much, without you two I couldn't have finished this race. They believed in me when I didn't and their caring for me was unbelievable. It feels so amazing to have that from people I met five days ago.  

Manon is an ER doctor in LA. All that anti nausea medicine I was taking was not paid for by the race, she was giving it to me out of her caring and wanting me to succeed in this race. I was responding by being delirious and losing it. Here is a picture of her "cooling her jets".  

 
Katie was out here doing research on hyponatremia, but all her equipment was lost in the mail. She was a lifesaver out there taping my back, blisters and handing out "medical" cheese. Such a great supporter who was always looking out for me. I think she must have been being silly for the camera in this picture in long sleeves and a tuque as I can't remember one day with it being cool enough for a hat or long sleeves.  

 
As for the actual race on day five it started off at this campsite at about 5:30am.  

 
Here is a photo of my tent mates from the previous day. We started with eleven in the tent but ended up with eight since three people had to stop their races. Even with eight we were all cramped in head to toe while we slept.  

 
The first two stages were beautiful through an old ocean called the valley of the whales. The footing was amazing and I moved very quickly running almost until the forth check point. My foot began hurting very badly, like there was a knife being stabbed through the bottom. I worked in some walking and finally sat down to take my shoe off and tapped a gauss bandage roll to the bottom. It felt so much better but running like that for more than a few miles wouldn't work. As I approached check point four, about 20 miles in, the heat set in and I knew I would have to take a break as the next stage was a very difficult one over soft dunes. I arrived at check point four somewhere between 17th and 25th place around 10:30 or 11am.  

The lead medical doctor, Jay, looked at my foot and said it was an overuse injury. He said I wouldn't hurt myself anymore and it was just pain.  

I lay at the check point for the next four hours and was passed by almost every competitor. Here I am with Jon Gannon, the competitor I spoke about earlier with a broken toe. He is a real tough guy, I can only imagine the pain he endured.  

 
I am impressed we were still smiling as it was 118 degrees out! Here is a shot on the other side of the SUV to give you some idea of where we were, with the dunes we were about to cross in the distance.  

 
As I was lying on the ground some of the sweepers with camels came up. After a few minutes I hear the loudest sound out of the camel. I lift my head to see the camel on its knees and the rider wrestling with its head. He grabbed the camels nostrils and pulled back its head forcing the camel to open its mouth and shoved a 1.5 liter bottle of water down its throat which the camel drank in about five seconds. That was probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. I just checked online and unfortunately couldn't find a video of it.  

I ran out of check point four until I hit the dunes and hiked until check point five which Manon was running. It had cooled off a bit but was still 110 degrees out. By check point five my foot was killing me so she gave me an aerosol spray can to roll my foot on. It felt AMAZING, such relief. She also gave me some more nausea medicine as the heat of the last leg was getting to me a bit.  

I continued on to check point six which was 30 miles into the last leg while the sunset. It was very pretty. Check point six was the overnight check point with tents set up. I stopped and ate my last dinner, chicken korma. It was surprisingly tasty considering it is all I ate every night for the week. I should have taken a nap but decided to continue on. Having done five marathons in five days I was tired and at mile 30 out of 54.  

As I continued in the dark things deteriorated quickly for me. I was walking slowly alone in the dark having been on this stage for about 16 hours. I was very weary and started to feel my heart race and head spin. I stopped and lied down on the side of the course and put my head in the sand. I told myself two minutes before I would get going again. If anyone is caught sleeping on the course they are pulled from the race as it is very dangerous with cars patrolling. I started to feel incredibly sorry for myself. I started thinking of all the hard work I had put into the race and why others were moving so much faster and having so much more success. As I wallowed in myself pity I saw some headlights in the distance which got me to my feet.  

The approaching car rolled down its window and Manon was inside. She rolled down the window and asked how I was doing. I said fine and she drove on. I saw her pull over in the distance and turn off her lights to see if I was still moving forward. I thought to myself how sneaky that was of her.  

I think she could see I was walking slowly when in the cooler night weather I normally would be running. After she saw that I was still walking on, she drove back. She asked again how I was doing and I told her how I had to take the short rest, felt like my heart was racing and had a fever. She checked all my vitals and asked me if she wanted to pull me from the race. I said no, though in the back of my mind I was wishing she would pull me so I would have an excuse to quit. I was so exhausted and just wanted to be done.  

She spoke with the other race directors in the car and came back telling me she couldn't let me go on alone in the dark. She had told me before that I couldn't run anymore in this race and that she was letting me go on with my last chance. She also said that I had to be 100% honest about my conditions at all times and if she couldn't trust me that was it. She knew I was a poker player, and even though I am a bad liar she thought I was misleading her about my condition. I admit I did down play it a few times this week, though I am guessing she knew that. She held me for the next competitor, Taro a Japanese competitor, saying that if I didn't stay with him my race was over.  

For the next two hours I followed Taro step by step. All I could think about was how I couldn't leave him. As I walked behind him I felt my heart racing again. I would feel really hot and woozy. We eventually reached check point seven and Manon was waiting. She asked how I was doing and I filled her in. She again checked my vitals and told me to rest at this check point for awhile before going on. I was welcoming a break and took out my sleeping bag and lay on the hard ground.  

After 15 minutes on the ground I began getting cold and took off my wet cloths in exchange for anything warm and dry I had. The wind was whipping and my 3/4 length bag was not keeping me warm. I lay on the ground for three hours getting colder and colder with my legs killing me. I told myself that I was done with this race and would continue to the next check point and pull myself. I created a little fantasy in my head about why it was okay to quit now, 25 miles from the finish.  

Eventually one of the volunteers came and poked me, saying I had been there for three hours. I knew it was now or never so I lifted myself up and walked around the SUV to find Jon and Ken, a competitor from China. We all began walking together. At this point it was about 1am or 2am and we had all been on the course since 7am. The pace was very slow as we all had a variety of injuries, mine being by far the least painful and serous of the group. We would stop every couple of miles to rest. My heart still felt like it was racing and I told them I was done. They said that I had to go on to the next check point with them as we were in the middle of nowhere.  

It seemed to take forever to reach check point eight. We couldn't see it forever as it was over a small dune which further lowered our spirits. I'd guess with our frequent breaks we were moving at 25-30 minute mile pace. As we walked in Katie greeted me asking how I was doing. I told her about my racing heart and how I was not feeling well. She checked all my vitals and told me to rest. I had been so cold in the wind at the last check point that I took the plastic ground cover and wrapped myself in it to get out of the wind. As I lay under the plastic I grabbed my bag and rummaged around for something to eat. All I had left were two freeze dried porridges which the thought of made me sick, especially having them cold. As I was lying on the ground I overheard Katie and Tony, a consultant for the race, discussing my condition. Tony was saying I couldn't make it as we had 15 miles. Katie was telling him she thought I could go on.  

Jon and Ken were talking about getting moving again and I knew I had to continue with them. I also thought getting some food would really help me, so I asked Katie if she had anything and she produced two small pieces of cheese and some wheat thins from her bag. After eating what I had for the last week these were the two best pieces of cheese I had ever had. It was unbelievable how delicious these things were.  

We began moving again and I felt AMAZING. I couldn't feel my heart racing any longer, nor was I getting hot flashes. I would have started running again but I didn't because of Manon and what she had told me earlier. Jon was in a very bad state at this point, and I wasn't sure if he would make the final 15 miles. We were creeping along barely ahead of the Eygptian camel riders sweeping the course.  

The sun began rising as we approached checkpoint nine and it was so beautiful. Jon's spirits began rising and we were joking about everything as we walked. For the first time I had the realization we had been on the course for almost 24 hours. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling with the terrible state I had been in just a few hours ago. When we arrived at check point nine Katie, Manow and some of the volunteers were waiting with huge smiles on their faces. We stopped for 15 minutes to take pictures and I was overcome with joy. It was such an amazing feeling and an unreal high. That was the high point of my trip, out there with everyone after the night we shared together.  

I don't have the pictures yet as they were taken on Manow's phone who is headed back to the states. Maybe I can add them later.  

We powered through the last stage and I began to run the last mile or two. It felt great coming in strong after being on the course for 25 hours. I was greeted by Deyl (who had an amazing day five!!! You should read about it in his blog) and a bunch of my other friends at the camp. Here is a shot of me right after finishing the 54 miles, and 155 miles in 5 days.  

 
The rest of the day was spent getting very hungry. Deyl and I had planned on not eating this day as we didn't want to carry the food all week. Trust me when I say that was a better idea on paper than in action.  

I was trying to trade my porridge for something I could keep down. I was lucky that Steven, a very experienced ultra marathoner who came in third, took pity on me. He was nice enough to trade me for a porridge for his mashed potatoes even though I knew he didn't want the porridge. He had given me one the day before as well. That was the hungriest I have ever felt in my life and freeze dried mashed potatoes tasted so good. It was only 400 calories or so and I had only eaten 1600 calories the entire day before while covering 54 miles. I was still starving but it helped.  

As the day dragged on we had nothing to do but be hungry and sit in the 115 degree heat. By 4pm I was at my end and ready start begging other competitors for food. Deyl was in a similar state and we didn't think we would be able to eat until 24 hours later after finishing the race at the pyramids of Giza. Then Alina made an announcement that there was a surprise gift from the local people. She said they had Egyptian flat bread and cheese for us!!! I had been craving cheese all week and the bit Katie gave me just wet my appetite. Deyl and I were first in line and devoured our four pieces of bread and soft cheese. It was so good and salty. The entire time I was eating I was monitoring the line looking for a chance to get back in for 2nds. I felt so pathetic but I just didn't care, I was too hungry.  

I jumped in for 2nds and took them to my tent so no one could see me in the state I was in. I found Deyl already there having grabbed 2nds as well and we sat in the back hording our food. We went back for thirds finishing everything off. The other competitors had more composure than us and I think we were the only ones to have 2nd's much less thirds. After finishing I felt so pleasantly full I lay down to sleep for the first time in 48 hours, so thankful I wasn't hungry.  

The next morning we were bused to the pyramids of Giza for our final one mile run and photo shoot. I sat by Manon on the bus and we talked about the previous day. I thanked her for not pulling me and letting me finish my race even though I was so sick. She said that she never thought for a 2nd about pulling me on that day. She had on earlier days, but she said day five in the night everything was in my head. I was floored and asked about my racing heart and fever. She said my heart rate was normal and I didn't have a fever. She said I was having a mental struggle (breakdown?) and needed to hear that I was about to be pulled. She put me with Taro to help me mentally, not to have him watch my safety.  

I was in utter shock that I was so weak mentally. I feel gross just thinking about it and writing it here. In all my preparation for this race I never considered that my biggest weakness would be in my head not in my body. Manon had really pulled a great bluff on me. I was convinced I was about to be pulled from the race if I didn't do exactly as she said, while I had been ignoring some of her advice/orders earlier in the week.  

We arrived at the pyramids and it was a bit of a letdown. I had built it up in my head as this amazing finish but it wasn't. Sure it looks good on Facebook, but my highlight was day five check point nine with very special people watching the sun rise over the desert. That was a moment I will remember forever.  

I have so many other experiences and thoughts that can't fit into this blog that may fade from my mind as time goes on. I have grown incredibly close to so many people in such a short amount of time. So many people I spoke before the race said their journey was life changing. I never considered mine would be going in and brushed it off as people being overly emotional. I thought I was preparing for a race and competition, that was not what it ended up being for me.  

As I finish this up I am getting teary eyed. If you are reading this considering doing something like this I would say go for it. I don't know what your journey will be but I bet it will surprise and change you.

Comments: Total (14) comments

Jon Gannon

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 14:26 PM

Great last blog Brian. When i look back on the last 9 days it makes me really believe more and more in fate. From you and Deyl sitting next to me @ dinner the friday before the race, our developing friendship over the next couple of days, to me finding you at checkpoint 3 and then again at checkpoint 7 on the long day and you appearing out of the dark to guide me to the finish line after checkpoint 8. Being in such amazing physical condition you were one of the last guys i expected to be approaching the finish line with... but there we were. Thanks again for your strength over the last 18km. We finished and that in itself is simply amazing!

Amanda Leone

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 14:48 PM

WOW Brian! Such an awesome experience, of community, of strength, of overcoming and persevering through so many life changing obstacles. So stoked for you and proud of you for your amazing accomplishment!!!! Hope to see you in the future to hear you talk about it in person!

Baby Huey

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 15:00 PM

Wow Townsend, that last day sounds pretty intense. I am glad that you were able to get some cheese and there is nothing wrong with going back for thirds. It has been great reading about your trek.

Bruce Yp

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 16:44 PM

Congratulations Brian, I'm glad you did this blog. It was great following your race. Recover and have a safe trip home. Bruce Yp

Linda Townsend

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 19:28 PM

Congratulations Brian!! We so enjoyed following your blog. I often hear athletes and others talk about the mental part of their challenging journey. But you actually experienced it and I am sure this will enrich your life.. Enjoy all the comforts of life as you recover. Linda

Eric Rodawig

Posted On: 05 Nov 2012 20:51 PM

Wow, you got bluffed hard!! That's hilarious...

Bruce Townsend

Posted On: 06 Nov 2012 09:31 AM

Brian, this is a great accomplishment, which created lifelong memories for you. Thank you for keeping this well written blog for the rest of us. --Dad

Gil Mentiply

Posted On: 06 Nov 2012 13:03 PM

Congratulations, you also have dug as deep as anybody, and I'm really glad you completed, well done. I have been following the progress of my nephew Colin Jack and was keeping an eye on your progress (And Jon Gannons)and your detailed descriptions depict the real torment and hell you experienced and came through. When I read your last blog I felt I had to congratulate you. You should be very proud. Gil and Dorothy

Josephine Devlin

Posted On: 06 Nov 2012 21:10 PM

Wow Brian what an amazing blog and description of how it was for you. I felt I was there without the pain!! So glad you and my son shared your journey and supported each other. Well done, words just cannot say what an amazing feat you accomplished. Respect....Good luck in everything you do.

Alina B

Posted On: 07 Nov 2012 02:47 AM

Brian, Thanks for sharing the story of your incredible last stage. I know it was a rough one for you - it is true that Manon was fantastic. Throughout the week, we witnessed your highs and lows, but you pushed through and gave it an incredible effort. Many reasons to be proud! Warm wishes, Alina

Vanessa Felts

Posted On: 07 Nov 2012 03:00 AM

Brian, I am so in awe of what you just went through and thankful that you shared the whole struggle and feat with us. I can't wait to see how this experience continues to shape you and to what you are propelled next. Well done, my friend.

Anastasia Vourakis

Posted On: 07 Nov 2012 07:53 AM

Townsend, congratulations on finishing! Your last day sounds utterly incredible and difficult at the same time. In reading your blogs, I never once doubted that you would finish. You've experienced something that only a handful people on this earth have and are a part of something that will be with your for the rest of your life. It's not about the destination, but about the journey. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

Terrence Chan

Posted On: 08 Nov 2012 17:13 PM

Congrats on an amazing accomplishment. It's great to see another poker player take time out of grinding and dedicate himself to something incredibly hellish just to see what amazing strength comes out the other side, although you may have chosen the most hellish thing I've heard of. Big props.

Noel Hayes

Posted On: 08 Nov 2012 17:37 PM

Well done Brian. Serious read and a serious achievement. You have some fortitude to complete this race. This blog follows a similar cycle to the blog you wrote after you finished the Iron Man. A struggle, self doubt and help from a stranger. Congrats, Noel.
Finished Safe And Sound!

2nd November 2012 11:27 AM[(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana]

I don’t have much time on the computer so I will have to keep this short. I’ll write a longer blog when I am back in Cairo. Thank you all for the comments, it means the world to me.


Dad, everything here is being run well and my safety is always being looked out for.


I finished 54 mile stage safely. It was very grueling for me. I finished in about 25 hours which put me in about 100th place. I am just happy to finish as there were some times when I wasn’t sure I was.


I ran the first two stages and did very well. Once I hit the third check point, about three hours in, I had to take a 4 hour break to let the heat pass. My watch read 118 degrees and that leg of the course was rated difficult. It was so smart to take the break as I wouldn’t have made it. Most of the competitors passed me.


I did well on stage four and five passing a few competitors. Stage five was the overnight camp, but I only took 20minutes to eat something which was a mistake. By check point six I was really struggling and had to rest for three hours. I was wiped and every check point from there on I would take 2-3 hour breaks to rest up. I couldn’t sleep but I was able to rest my weary legs.


I consider myself a pretty tough guy but people out here take the cake. I am think my fitness and training is very good but I was beat today by lots of people who had more constitution than me. It sounds so easy to just push beyond your limits but when you are running in pain it’s very hard.


The medical team was great today. They were on top of my safety at all times, I was very impressed.


Thanks again for reading, I will write a more detailed post in a few days. Please keep the comments coming!

Comments: Total (27) comments

Marilyn Townsend

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 23:52 PM

Thank heavens you are alive and well. We await your blog when the pain lets up. Love mom and clyde.

Liz Groom

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 00:33 AM

Congratulations Brian! Your amazing! Hope a few strange visions and memories from training helped keep you smiling. Happy recovery...hope you get to drink a nice cold beer! Cheers to you! :)

Tim Kearin

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 00:35 AM

Brian, I never doubted that you'd make it even if you had to crawl across the finish line...which it sounds like you almost did. As you found out, it may be 99% mental but it's also 99% physical. You certainly made the right choices about stopping to rest. Again...huge "congrats" and enjoy the victory lap tomorrow. God Bless, Tim

Baby Huey

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 00:55 AM

I swear I already commented but now it is not appearing. Anyway Congratulations buddy. Drinks some beers you deserve it.Have fun with the final walk around the pyramids and the sphynx.

Sharon Kearin

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 01:07 AM

Brian! The race is over and your big dream came true! You completed one of the most challenging events on this planet. You are amazing the way you hung in there through your sickness and pain. Now rest up and enjoy the sweetness of victory! I am so proud of you!

Pawel Nazarewicz

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 01:40 AM

Sounds like the race crew is A+. It makes me feel much better to hear about their professionalism and concern for safety. Congrats on getting through such a tough day like today. A 54 mile "stage" just sounds insane.

David Jay

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 01:41 AM

Wow! That's incredible man! So blown away by you Brian! What an inspiration! Almost there!!!!!!!!!!!

Donna O'hara-jaquith

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 01:46 AM

Hello Brian, Of course I read your blog to get more info of this grueling last Huge run of the race. First, Congrats to you!!! and you sound very very smart in resting and pacing as you completed this tough tough race...eat, drink and be merry! you deserve it! Donna (old(getting even older) friend of the Kearin family )

Caitie D

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 01:48 AM

So close, Brian! So proud of you for staring this desert down and conquering it. Keep going - just remember to look up once in a while and allow yourself to let the experience kick it. Your an inspiration.

Bruce Yp

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 03:13 AM

Good job Brian, You made it. That had to be hard to sit at the stage breaks. Smart to not move in the heat. Bruce Yp

Linda Townsend

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 03:37 AM

Congratulations!! Good to hear you are safe and sound we were eagerly waiting for your blog. What an accomplishment to compete in and finish this monster of an event. Look forward to reading your more detailed blog. Rest well and feel proud. Linda

Ashley Gove

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 03:58 AM

Brian!!! I just read ALL of your blogs...intense to say the least! Congratulations on your accomplishment, sooooooo fantastic! Ps. perhaps they had masseuses waiting at the finish line?

Kasey Sander

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 04:03 AM

You are amazing! You did it! Congrats Brian! I remember when you were telling Skye and I about this race months and months ago, even before Deyl decided he was going to do it. And now here you are. What an incredible achievement. Way to hang in there and push to the end. SO MUCH RESPECT! You are the man!!!

Erin Vernon

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 04:20 AM

Honestly Brian, the fact that you actually finished is success and victory in itself. It is unreal what you just accomplished. Enjoy the feeling of finishing!!

Erin Vernon

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 04:20 AM

Honestly Brian, the fact that you actually finished is success and victory in itself. It is unreal what you just accomplished. Enjoy the feeling of finishing!!

Ty Vernon

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 04:58 AM

Love reading about your courage and preserverance. Thanks for inspiring me. Can't wait to see you again and hear your story in person. Take care my friend.

Kate W

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 05:10 AM

Wow. Congratulations!! Brian, I think what you have accomplished is truly amazing & inspiring! Perseverance, determination, tenacity....you should be so proud of yourself! You finished we'll ahead of so many and posted really competitive times - I cannot even imaging making to through a small portion of the distance you've covered in the past couple days! Way to go! I bet that cheese was the best you'd ever tasted! :D ( I had a laugh when they quoted you as you finished- looking forward to a chunk of cheese!) Take care of yourself on your recovery!

Paige Kearin

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 05:18 AM

Brian- we are so proud of you and a big whooping CONGRATS to you. You deserve to feel incredibly happy and satisfied. You put in your hard work. You prepared. You did it! Your in better shape than 99% of the guys out there but your body just doesn't like that heat. ...you pushed through and your finished anyways. And you were smart about it. I'm planning a "Back from Sahara" party at DJ's house this Friday. There are so many people who would love to hear your story and we'd be honored if you would join Deyl in speaking about your epic adventure. Kudos to you my friend. And I was VERY happy when I saw your results post. I couldn't be happier or prouder of you. Celebrating you today!

Nick W

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 11:18 AM

Pfft that's nothing I once ran in 125 degree heat...admittedly it was 30 feet to the cocktail bar and I stopped halfway to cool my feet in the pool..... Awesome stuff Brian - you should be really proud of yourself. I can't even conceive of doing this for a couple of hours never mind what you've done The mental stress to keep going when everything in your body is telling you to stop is really tough when doing a marathon - let alone something like this when it must be nearly overwhelming so you've done an amazing thing!! Now have a massive lie down....

Bruce Townsend

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 13:07 PM

Brian, great performance! I will try to call you when you are back to Vancouver. --Dad

May Gordon

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 13:16 PM

Brian, Am so happy to hear you have accomplished what very few people can....I can't imagine what determination it took to persevere in that heat. It makes everything so much more difficult. Now, go get pampered!!

Jeff Bonine

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 14:30 PM

Amazing, congratulations on such a difficult race. What desert is next?

Tim L

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 15:29 PM

Congrats Brian! Truly inspirational. Enjoy yourself and see ya soon.

Megan S

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 21:12 PM

You did it! Congrats congrats congrats! I was thinking you should save your running gear for next Halloween and you'd have your costume made...the Sahara Superhero :) I was feeling lazy after reading your blog so signed up for a half marathon in feb...then read your blog a little more and still felt lazy! I guess you don't have to worry about being in shape for ski season after all that sand!...you are going to be hiking up hills like nobody's business! Rest up and in all seriousness that was truly an amazing effort.

Cole South

Posted On: 03 Nov 2012 21:23 PM

Way to go Brian! Congratulations!

Marilyn Townsend

Posted On: 04 Nov 2012 00:37 AM

Hi Honey, Wonderful report about the medical supervision and care. I hope the race officials are taking loads of photographs that you can share. all the best for the next Stage. Love, mom

Elena Lilles

Posted On: 04 Nov 2012 01:13 AM

Congratulations Brian! What an amazing accomplishment! I can't wait to hear all about it when you get back! Rest up!
Stage 4

1st November 2012 01:07 AM[(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time(US & Canada); Tijuana]

What a difference a day makes!


Thank you so much for the comments, it means the world to me. I am sitting here teary eyed from all the comments. It’s a bit embarrassing as this is definitely a “tough guy” race and crying isn’t really something these guys do.


Yesterday’s blog was probably a bit melodramatic. I can’t read it now, but I was at the lowest point of the race having been on the course for 10+ hours and coming in at sunset.


Today was simply amazing. I finished in 22nd place. I forget my exact time. I started the day off with my daily trip to the medical tent. The doctor told me that I couldn’t run today or tomorrow because of how sick I was. I was given some nausea medicine which I promptly managed to lose in my daze.


I started off the first stage following the doctor orders walking. I came to the first check point in 90th place. I was feeling sick to my stomach similar to the day before. Once I crossed the check point I began adding in some shuffling to my walk. As the miles passed I began feeling better and better. I started passing lots of competitors as my nausea subsided.


By check point two I was feeling pretty good and had moved up to about 60th place or so. I felt like I had ½ the Sahara in my shoe so I stopped for 10minutes to clean out the sand. The doctors at check point two realized I had run some and made sure to check my vitals. They have done a very great job staying on top of things while still letting us push our limits.


The heat started to turn up after check point three and we there were some large hard packed dunes to cross. I added back in some walking to my jog and didn’t pass to many competitors for a few miles. Then out of nowhere some cloud cover rolled in and the temperatures dropped by 20 degrees. I haven’t seen one cloud the entire time I was out here and was pleasantly surprised to say the least.


I began absolutely flying and was holding about a 9 or 9:30 pace. Although that doesn’t sound blazing fast on sand, with a pack and working on my 4th marathon in four days I was very pleased with the pace.


I approached check point three which was on top of a sand dune. I walked for 5 seconds right as I first hit the dune and then began to run up. It was really motivating to hear that I was one of three competitors all day to run up it.


I started to really tear once I left check point three. I caught Deyl about a mile in and we ran together for a few miles. He was doing great looking strong and holding a very steady pace. I was feeling good so I went ahead of Deyl. I even felt so good I began to sprint and at one point when I looked down at my watch I was running 6:30 minute miles. I was on the biggest runners high of my life and had goose bumps all over my body. I felt so strong and so good with the cool weather. As I knew going in heat would be my biggest hurdle not my fitness.


In the last 100 feet I sprinted past a competitor but couldn’t quite catch the guy in 21st. It’s been two hours since I got in and I feel very refreshed and ready to go for the 54 mile day tomorrow. I am praying to the Sahara gods that we get some of the cloud cover we had today, it will help me so much. This race is hard enough without the grueling heat we had the past three days.


My plan for tomorrow is all heat dependent. If the weather is similar as today I will try to run the entire thing and think I can do really well. If it is as hot as its been the past few days my plan is to rest 4-5 hours during the heat of the day. I want to run straight through regardless of the heat but that’s a sure fire way for me to end up attached to an IV in the medical tent.


I consider myself a pretty tough guy but some of these competitors are real warriors and have ten times the constitution I do. One guy has been walking with a broken toe. I cannot imagine how he is able to keep moving. It is taking him 8-10 hours a day to finish which cuts into his recovery time and sleep every night. Yesterday was so much harder to walk than run. I remember when I began researching this race and I thought “worst comes to worst I can walk.” How wrong was I walking is 10 times more grueling than running.


One of my tent mates has had his big toe drilled and drained of fluid since it was infected. I don’t know how he goes, on its truly amazing. He is a Danish guy with the build of Robo Cop.


The competitor in 2nd place pulled out of the race today because of chaffing on his groin. It doesn’t sound too bad, but I have some starting and its real painful. He has been lying at camp with his legs spread eagle all afternoon. Anyways I thought these stories would be enjoyable and I can say without a doubt all those competitors are so much tougher than me.


Beyond these random stories there are countless people in the medical tent every night getting blisters fixed and having their backs taped from chaffing of bags.


I think there are two women in the top 30. I have met some strong willed athletic women, but these girls blow them all out of the water. They are German and Swiss with legs more muscular than mine. One even brought a pack of cigarettes with her. I don’t know why but watching her smoke after every stage really cracks me up.


I realize from reading this everyone must ask why do people do this. I honestly doubt I will do this event again, though it has been an amazing experience. I started training for this six months ago and am in by far the best shape of my life. I am also really enjoying seeing the desert and Egypt in a way I would never experience on a tour bus. It also gives me an appreciate for the rest of my life. When I am back home I am going to really appreciate the simple things in life.


Thank you again for reading! As I said before it means the world to me and is keeping me going. Please keep the comments coming, I will need them.

Comments: Total (31) comments

Baby Huey

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 01:25 AM

GO TOWNSEND! That is great to hear that the 4th day was good. By the time you read this you will be done with the last 50 miles. I hope this goes smoothly. CONGRATULATIONS buddy. This is truly amazing. I am glad you were able to rest up today. I will be doing a cloud dance for you this evening. Hopefully I can convince some of the lingering clouds in SF to migrate across the world. Truly amazing buddy. No more need for inspirational quotes you are done.

Roberts Jeef

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 01:33 AM

Go Buddy!!! Almost there and it seems as though you are finishing strong. I wish I could be there and shout slogans at you like "No pain no gain!" But seriously, this thing is pretty crazy. Just fight through the final stage and remember how good a beer is going to taste when you are done. Miss you bro. Jeef

Marilyn Townsend

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 02:37 AM

Go BRIAN. Loved reading your blog tonight. Cldye and I saw on the race website your 5 hour time early this am California time for Stage 4. We were stunned at the fast time given all the medical problems yesterday. So the worst is over. So now we are reading the details of your day and it sounds like quite an adventure. Keep up the writing as we are following morning and night. We are driving to Oregon tomorrow morning but will stop at internet cafes along the way to read your blog. Love you. Mom

Clyde Elmore

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 02:54 AM

Brian, Sounds good the way you managed you run today. Tomorrow sounds like a real dog. Hope you have some overcast and coolness, so it will not be a real hurting drag. Sounds like Dryl has a very steady progress that has keep him healthy and realatively fast. He seems to be very steady. Why do you think you were feeling good even though you didn't get your med? Was it only the heat/cool or was it a mental shift? It seems the cloud cover gave you a real burst of confidence and satisfaction allowing you to make up some ground.Is tomorrows 50+ miles the longest stage? Hopefully it doen't have all the other same attaractions of dunes and elevation changes with dry sand to go with the distance. Maybe stage thre is just a finish low mileage run. The desert is really a beautiful place if you let yourself appreciate the starkness. Shapes, sunrises/sunsets,etc. can be great in the desert. I have on the sesert road from Cairo to Alexandria and then the desert road tfrom Cairo to El Fayum and a little south of there, not in the western desert. I hear that there are underlying rivers in the area with running water deep in the sand. Hey, Have good day on stage 5. Pace and stay healthy. I also will do a cloud dance for you, but I was never a good dancer. Love Clyde.

Linda Townsend

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 03:49 AM

We have so enjoyed your blog. Amazing how you worked through the nausea. Go strong and smart on the long day. I will say a prayer for the Sahara cloud God to prevail. We are pulling for you. Linda

Tim Kearin

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 04:23 AM

Hey buddy, the only reason not to cry is the precious loss of water. 50 miles is a long way. It doesn't seem like your fitness is an issue but fluid and electrolyte balance will be. Try to maintain a steady pace so you don't overheat. Don't push too hard to early. I'll be praying for you and will be anxious to hear of your safe finish.

Paige Kearin

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 04:40 AM

Brian- Congrats to you! Your runners high is well deserved. People are very impressed and inspired by you. You have endured gruelating circumstances and found the strength to persevere. Kudos. Sending well wishes for cool temperatures and lots of clouds tomorrow. Very impressed. So happy for a great day for you. May tomorrow be amazing. Do what you have to stay out of that medical tent! Almost there! A cool beer will soon be in your hands and you'll enjoy it like never before.

Jeff Bonine

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 04:53 AM

Keep it up buddy, you've got one more grueling day left. 9:30, that is a great pace for me. I keep bragging about what a badass you are to all my friends and they can't understand why your doing this, but I know why your doing this, you should be extremely proud of yourself. Oh and that Swiss chick reminds me of Hague and Gurwell after rugby practices. I was breathing heavy and those guys would light up a cig on the sidelines. Stay strong and I hope for clouds!

Amelia Cline

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:02 AM

I suppose some reasons people do this race is to test the limits of physicality and perseverance. It is a testament to what you can achieve if you put your mind and energy into something. I have done some crazy hiking/physical experiences, and pushing my own limits and finishing something against the odds felt amazing. And my experience is nowhere near the endurance that is needed for what you are doing. I wouldn't say you are not as tough..you sound pretty tough to me! My mile time is probably close to 9 minutes without sand and heat :) I am hoping for the clouds as well for you. It is an inspiration to watch you put your mind to something, no matter how difficult and push through at the level that you have. Wow 54 miles in one day...Not only will a beer taste good you will be high from all the endorphins :) Good luck tomorrow!!!!!! GO TOWNSEND!!

Josh Stichter

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:15 AM

Great job today, Brian! Wow what a turnaround day for you. I can tell you it was no Sahara god that blessed you today :) It's really inspiring to watch you grow and battle and succeed on this journey. Almost there man! Keep it up and use all this growth and momentum to carry you through to the finish!

Josh Stichter

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:15 AM

Great job today, Brian! Wow what a turnaround day for you. I can tell you it was no Sahara god that blessed you today :) It's really inspiring to watch you grow and battle and succeed on this journey. Almost there man! Keep it up and use all this growth and momentum to carry you through to the finish!

Josh Stichter

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:15 AM

Great job today, Brian! Wow what a turnaround day for you. I can tell you it was no Sahara god that blessed you today :) It's really inspiring to watch you grow and battle and succeed on this journey. Almost there man! Keep it up and use all this growth and momentum to carry you through to the finish!

Eric Rodawig

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:20 AM

Wow, this all sounds incredible! Seems like you're pushing yourself just hard enough and doing great. You'll have to explain later why walking is worse than running, but hopefully there's more clouds today! I just left the desert myself after railing Jeremy Ausmus at the final table of the main event...

Jake Wilson

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 05:43 AM

Townsend you sand bagging son of a.... 9:30 miles no sweat huh... Haha all kidding aside I was excited to come home today and was looking forward to seeing how this stage went for you. Just hearing about your journey is inspiring. Not sure if you know but I coach a highschool football team. Today I shared your story with these 16-18 year old young men. We talked about mental toughness and physical pain. Things that most of us can not imagine and you are doing for "fun." hope you do not mind... But honestly what you just completed is phenomenal. I am do jacked up for you and glad you remained healthy... May the clouds be with you!!!!

Bruce Townsend

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 09:28 AM

Brian, I must tell you that I was a little worried for your health while reading your Stage one through Stage three blogs. But now I am much more confident about your prospects for a healthy finish after this reassuring Stage 4 news. Keep up the strong (but safe) effort. Bonne chance et bon courage, Dad

Sergio Benvenuti

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 10:18 AM

Great job Brian! Congratulations for what youve already done, good luck for the final stage and let's hope for some clouds... GOGOGO!!

Pawel Nazarewicz

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 12:00 PM

Brian - great to hear about your super day! Say what you want, but I have a feeling you'll be back to win it one day :)

Pablo Martinez

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 13:49 PM

Hi Brian, I am a friend of Deyl and a fellow marathon runner. I just wanted to give tell you how impressed I am for your resiliance and your ability to push thru and run or walk with heat and nausea. You have my admiration. Happy trails

Sharon Kearin

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 14:34 PM

Brian, What a great job turning this race around! I am thrilled you had such a glorious experience in the desert during stage 4! That cloud coverage was sent for you my friend! I pray you had a good rest and that the 50 mile journey is going smoothly for you. Very soon we will all have tears of joy for you and Deyl! What a competitor you are!

Donna O\'hara-jaquith

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 16:04 PM

Hello Brian, I know you only because of reading your posts. I have known Deyl since he was a boy and feel as if he is one of my own. So I followed you too. WAY TO GO MAN!!!! You kept in and have posted very well under the adversity. And now the experience you had with the 4th stage really is amazing and great. I have to agree with Sharon about that cloud following you for a bit, it was sent to you. Clouds can be that way under Special circumstances! :-)Tough work out there and congrats again. Best of luck to you Brian.

Pawel Nazarewicz

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 16:21 PM

You motivated me to get of my ass, quit complaining about the cold weather here, and take my dogs running. They would like to thank you.

Megan Stichter

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 17:23 PM

I am SO glad the race has turned around for you. I can't imagine running all those miles and never feeling good about them (Just another reason you are doing this and not me!). Way to push yourself. I am praying that you have a GREAT 50 miler!! And no chafing. That sounds gnarly.

Luke Bjoin

Posted On: 01 Nov 2012 21:58 PM

Brian!!! sorry I didnt post earlier! Its amazing to see the ups and downs of your race and Im so glad to see you are hanging in there and feeling better by the day. What you are doing is incredible and no one will ever be able to take this away from you. Even when you are a grandpa you will be more of a badass because of this. Only one more day then some much deserved rest and beer. Amazing Job bud!!!

Anastasia Vourakis

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 02:49 AM

Townsend, I know everyone has already said it, but your story is truly amazing and inspiring. I've been telling my family (my Dad says hi by the way!) about what you are doing and it is really awe inspiring. The physical strength and endurance is one thing, but the mental strength is half the battle and you are doing well! It's amazing what you can do to push yourself and test your limits. I'm really proud of you. I've got patients that have given up on themselves and to have a friend who is putting himself to the ultimate test is amazing. Take care of yourself and listen to the doctors! Stay hydrated! I'll be praying to Zeus and all the other Greek gods for clouds and cooler weather for you. I'm so proud of you. Keep it up!!

Anastasia Vourakis

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 02:49 AM

Townsend, I know everyone has already said it, but your story is truly amazing and inspiring. I\'ve been telling my family (my Dad says hi by the way!) about what you are doing and it is really awe inspiring. The physical strength and endurance is one thing, but the mental strength is half the battle and you are doing well! It\'s amazing what you can do to push yourself and test your limits. I\'m really proud of you. I\'ve got patients that have given up on themselves and to have a friend who is putting himself to the ultimate test is amazing. Take care of yourself and listen to the doctors! Stay hydrated! I\'ll be praying to Zeus and all the other Greek gods for clouds and cooler weather for you. I\'m so proud of you. Keep it up!!

Bruce Yp

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 05:25 AM

Hi Brian, Keep going and Keep going. On a long day it's about pacing. I hope you found the right one for you. Bruce Yp

Sharon Kearin

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 13:26 PM

BRIAN.....YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!! Congratulations on this remarkable finish. You are a warrior in spirit and I am overwhelmed with joy that you were able to complete stage 5. I hope you are resting well now and that the remainder of your experience does not include nausea medicine! I am proud to know you!

Tim Kearin

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 13:50 PM

Great job finishing buddy! You persevered through a lot. I'm sure you had to dig deeper within yourself than ever before. The victory lap will be a breeze. Congrats!! Tim

Jamin Stokes

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 20:15 PM

I have been following you blogs the whole way Brian. This is absolutely incredible. Keep plugging away. You can finish this. What an amazing mental and physical accomplishment! You may even inspire me to get out from behind this computer and get active :)

Clyde Elmore

Posted On: 02 Nov 2012 21:18 PM

Brian, Sounds like it was an unbearably long day. But you made it in! according to the general web info. Your mom and i are dying to read your blog. We are sitting in an internet cafe in Florence Oregon following your race. Congraulations. I'm sorry I haven't gotten your blog, happy to see you still in the race.I read a blog from a couple of those who didn,t make it today and it sounds like they really had trouble. It really tries your whole being. What determination and fortitude you must have. Keep the blog coming. Love, Clyde

Yasmen Abdallah

Posted On: 20 Aug 2015 21:36 PM

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