Not really sure where to begin with this one. Started at 8am and completed 50 miles 11hrs and 37mins later. Finished in 16th place for the stage feeling physically and emotionally drained. Absolutely nothing left. Everything I had left out in that desert.
Temperature was not too bad at the start, probably about 30, so tried to get a reasonable run going. Managed to run the first 30 miles in not too bad shape, but then it started to get really hot and it was almost impossible. Had a decent run/walk pace going up to about 38miles, then had to walk the rest. The heat was unbearable. You could feel yourself becoming unwell/dehydrated. The 1.5l of water between each check point just wasn’t enough. They recorded the temperature at check point 5 somewhere in the 40’s.
The desert terrain was fantastic at times; massive wind sculpted rock formations, dry river beds, landscapes that just go on forever.
I was saved by my ipod about mile 35. Switched it on for some inspiration and the first song that came on was from the recent fast and furious film. Then found myself almost crying feeling sorry for Paul Walker! I think my mind was in a bit of a dark place at that point. The songs kept me going for a while, reminding me of family and friends.
When it came to the point I had to walk, it really got to me as it’s a running race. Then you get back to camp and found that the American, Ralph, who won the stage had blown between checkpoint 5 and 6 and walked the last 20k. He finished in just over 9hrs I think.
So its just the last day to go now – a wee gentle 7mile run to the finish where there is s promise of beer and pizza. I’m certainly ready for that as I’m completely sick of expedition food, powders and shot blocks. I’ve not had enough food this week – starving!
I’ll do a final blog from the hotel tomorrow. Thanks again for all your messages. It was the highlight of the day reading them. J
Hi Guys - back in the hotel now. Stage 6 - the final 7mile run to the finish - was cancelled due to sandstorm and bad weather. It's a real shame as I was looking forward to the final run over the finish line.
My stage 5 blog seems to be missing, which is not a huge surprise as the cyber tent was levelled by the storm about an hour after I typed it. It might still appear at some point.
The sandstorm that hit camp yesterday can only be described as biblical. It levelled all the tents and had us sitting out in the desert being blasted with sand for a few hours. The storm died down again and it looked like we would be running Stage 6. We set our sleeping mats out at midnight and settled down for a sleep under the stars. It was quite peaceful for an hour, then blasted by the storm again so it was game over at that point. The organisers did everything they could to try and keep the race going, but eventually had to admit defeat and return us to Hami for our own safety. Finally arrived back at the hotel at around 9am.
After a week in the desert with only 2200 calories of gels and expedition food per day, the Hotel breakfast buffet got hit hard. Food has never tasted so good. I sampled everything including all the Chinese dishes I couldn't read or recognise. Then it was into the bar for beers then shower. After a week like that, simple things like eating proper food and showering feel like a huge luxury.
I'll say a quick few words about Stage 5 incase my blog remains in the desert. I completed 50miles in 11hrs 37mins. It was the most brutal test of physical and mental endurance I've ever experienced. I gave it absolutely everything and was physically, mentally and emotionally drained at the end. Nothing left. The heat was unbearable at times - into the mid 40's - managed to run up to about 30miles, then run/walk for 10, then walk the last 10. Brutal. I was saved by my iPod songs at mile 35 which reminded me of family and friends. And a mini pepperami at about mile 38 as I just couldn't stomach any more energy foods. Learned a lot about myself that day.
One of the most amazing things I have ever done. Never thought I would be cabable of this and never imagined I'd finish in the position I achieved. I've met some really great people this week and it's been a great experience. The 4 Deserts staff and volunteers could not do enough for us and we're incredible.
It's also been great to raise so much money for the NDCS - National Deaf Children's Society - and a huge thanks goes out to all who supported me with their donations. Very kind and greatly appreciated.
I'm looking forward to getting back to Dori, Amy, Nico and Lucas and to seeing all my family and friends.
Would I do one again? Absolutely yes.
Will I be doing one soon? No chance! I'm back on my mountain bike for the summer after a few weeks rest :)
Thanks again for all your messages. It was great to read them every day. Catch you all soon.
Hi guys - finished Stage 4 now. Started off well as we were still in the foothills of the mountains and it was cool. Pace was good at the start, then we dropped down to the desert and the temp started to rise. It's a different ball game running in this heat. It really slows you down. We were running straight through desert landscape pretty much in a straight line for almost 20k. All you can see is horizon, with the mountains behind. Massive landscapes. It was hard to keep going in the heat.
I ran to the finish line with Mads (Denmark) and Witek (Poland). It makes a big difference sharing the last 4 or 5 miles with someone.
So I ran 26.2 miles today in approx. 4hrs 35ish. I think I finished in 13thplace. I was sitting in 10thafter stage 3. We don't get the full results until the following day as there are still people coming in at 8pm. I take my hat off to these competitors - 12hrs in the desert. At least I get finished around 12 or 1pm so can try and recover, although you need to run to do that. So I've just run full marathon through the desert, after running the best part of 3 marathons in the last 3 days - total 100 miles - Unbelievable.
My legs were very sore today. Almost seized up. Quads and calfs are screaming. Its really hard to keep going when you feel like this. First thing in the morning you feel like you cant stand up.
Its baking hot here now - approx. 30-35degrees. Tomorrow's stage is 50miles long and will be very hot. I have no expectations for tomorrow other than finishing safe and getting to the end. There's no way I can run 50miles in this heat without walking so will be planning some walking stops. Will run as many miles as possible in the morning to take advantage of the slightly cooler temp. Hopefully I'll surprise myself again.
I worked out how to access the blog comments so I've read all your messages. They're fantastic. I've a tear in my eye reading them. Keep them coming - I'll hold all those messages in my mind for tomorrow's stage.
Its great that the NDCS - National Deaf Childrens Society - is benefitting from this - hopefully there will be a few more donations this week.
My next blog wont be until Friday afternoon as Stage 5 is scheduled to last 2 days. Hopefully my pace will allow me to finish in 10-12 hours, but I really don't know. Some competitors will be running all day, all night, all day to finish. (Hopefully not me J)
Speak to you all soon.
Hi guys. Stage 3 done now - what a day! Started off with an uphill through some scrub land and passing through a few villages which was nice. Then dropped into a canyon and dry river bed. It was great scrambling through there. You had to be really careful as every step was a potential race ender if you hurt your ankle. CP1 to CP2 was also good. Real desert landscape, all rocky with desert style bushes; uphill and downhill terrain. CP2 to CP3 started off with a torturous run for 2-3 miles through a massive boulder field. Massive rocks everywhere. It was really hard going through there. After CP3 the weather turned. It started to get cold, windy, and pouring rain. Probably around 12 degrees but felt like about 6. I was only running in one layer and should have stopped to put my jacket on but just kept going. The end to the stage was brutal.
I arrived back in camp, freezing and shivering. I stripped of all my gear and dived into my sleeping bag for an hour. Brutal. We're in normal tents tonight so no nice warm house or yurt.
My legs felt pretty sore today. When I woke up this morning, it felt like the day after a marathon. I was amazed that once you start running, you can ignore it for a bit and then your legs settle down. I'm hoping the same happens tomorrow as I'm really feeling it now.
I finished 10thtoday which again is way beyond what I expected. Was running for a while in 6thand 7thwhich was nice. So today was 26.7miles which means I've ran approx. 75miles in 3 days - half way there!
Thanks for your messages - I look forward every day to reading them.
I'll continue to run the best that I can and we'll see what happens. Although the way my legs feel, I'm expecting to slow up at somepoint - probably tomorrow! I keep remembering wee Emily's words from her video #you can only do your best# J
PS - how did Mark do in the Marathon? Can you msg me to let me know, thanks.
Hi guys - stage 2 complete. We started at 2200m and climbed another 500m straight out of camp. At one point we were in 6-12 inches of snow climbing up a mountain for 45minutes. It wasn't running or walking, it was climbing. The air is pretty thin up there and you really feel in. We arrived at a temple at the top which was pretty cool and then started a 1000m descent back to warmer weather.
You would think the descent would be welcome and it was for a bit, but then the constant pounding on the legs started to tell. Everyone is walking around with sore legs at camp today. Finally got my jacket off for the last 10 miles and it was good to be running in warm weather. Managed to finish the stage in 12thplace again and today's run was just over 5 hours for 25miles. Will need to be a bit careful over the next few days as I'm frightened of over doing it. My engine feels pretty good but my legs are sore. Hopefully recover a bit for tomorrow. Never did I think I could run 2 stages at this pace so you never know.
We're sleeping in a traditional village tonight so it will be dry and warm. Temperature here is about 18-20 which is better than last night - barely above zero. We're still in the mountains so probably still cold tonight.
Thanks for your messages - they really make a difference. I cant read the blog comments here and wont see them until I get back on Saturday, but you can use the #email a competitor# option on the website.
Off to recover for Stage 3 now.
Hi guys - stage 1 complete. Started off running down a really technical canyon which was pretty cool, then along some grasslands before tackling the mighty sand dune. Weather was about 8 degrees, wind and rain so just like a normal Sunday Scottish run!
Once we hit the sand dune it started to snow and as we reached the top it was a proper blizzard white out. We're above 2200m here so weather can change quickly. Running through that snow was pretty tough and freezing cold. It got so bad that they stopped letting people up the dunes and diverted them around - not befor I had done it though!
I think I finished in 12th place today which means I went too fast and will probably suffer for the rest of the week. It was so cold after the dune I just wanted to get it done. Engine feels good but legs are sore with all the climbing and decending.
We're in traditional yurt tents tonight which have fires so nice and warm. We slept in normal tents last night and it was barely above freezing.
Speak to you all tomorrow
Hi Guys. Everything going to plan so far. Long journey to get here (including a 9hr bus ride), but feeling pretty good now.
Equipment and medical check all done and just had the pre-race briefing. It's all getting very real now!
My pack is still a bit heavy at just over 10kg - some of the elite guys have 7kg packs. Also some really heavy looking packs so mine is probably middle of the road. I'd need to take food out to make it lighter and I only have 16000 calories to last me 7 days so donr feel comfortable about doing that. At least it will get lighter as I eat.
Met some great people so far - everyone with the same objective of finishing the race.
The pre race nerves are really kicking in now - just looking forward to getting to the start line tomorrow morning and getting going.
Arrived safe and sound in Beijing yesterday. Had a wander around the Forbidden City which was pretty cool and some traditional Chinese food for lunch. All going to plan so far apart from the jet lag - it's 1am and I'm wide awake writing a blog!
Up early tomorrow for 9.25 flight to Urumqi, then 8hr bus ride to Hami arriving about midnight. Looking forward to getting to Hami and getting organised for the race. The start line is getting closer :)
Hi Guys - my first ever blog!
Only 7 days to go - a mixture of excitment and anxiety (mostly excitment)
Can't wait to get to the start line one week today and looking forward to meeting everyone.