Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kit review mark 2

Ok so the last bits of kit I used for the race. I will try not to go on too much in this post :)

Race Pac

My main piece of kit was my inov-8 race PAC 22 litre. This along with the bottle and holder and mesh pouch for attaching to the front strap was kindly donated to me by the wonderful people at inov-8. I usually use a much smaller backpack but obviously for this race that wouldn't cut the mustard.

This is the bag in all its glory. I was worried when it arrived that it would be too big but soon realised it was the perfect size to fit in everything I needed (I will add to this post the kit list I made for me and Sarah on my pretty excel spreadsheet).

The bag had a big inside pouch and several other pockets for storing things in including a hidden inside pocket under the lid of the bag which is where I stored my passport and valuables during the race. There was another pouch on the top of the bag which was great for things you needed easy access to but didn't want every 5 minutes such as tissues and little sun lotion sachets and rock tape. On the waist straps there was a pouch which I used for putting in my snacks and lip balm and pain killers. There were two diagonal pockets on the sides of the bag which could be used for putting the water bottles in but I chose to have one bottle attached to the front of the bag and my Nathan bladder fitted nicely inside the bag where there is a section for the bladder to fit in.

The pack was easily adjustable even when running and with the use of some extra Velcro straps the poles attached safely to the back.

The only thing I would suggest is that if the water bottle bouncing will annoy you it is worth adding a few extra strips of Velcro to the bottle holder just to secure it a little more. I did this before I left and the holder stayed in place perfectly. I also chose to switch to the raidlight bottle with the longer straw as this meant I didn't have to take the bottle out when I wanted to drink (this later proved to be an excellent idea)

I would highly recommend this PAC for the longer races where you need to be carrying a lot of kit. I have just bought the smaller 10 litre one and will be using this for my shorter races.


I took BLOC sunglasses with me - stupidly I forgot to take the coloured lenses but I survived just fine with the clear ones as they still had UV protection. Sarah also wore a pair of BLOC sunglasses (she remembered the lenses for hers :) )
These were so comfortable I actually forgot I was wearing them after a while and will for sure come with me on my future runs and next year to the OFR.


The Gaiters I used were by Raidlight and were stuck on with velcro. If there is one thing I would 100 % recommend it is to get the velcro sewn on to the shoe. I used some very strong glue and in the heat this just started coming away from my trainer - I still maaged to keep most of the sand out but by the end of the race there wasn't a whole lot of velcro still stuck to the trainer as I kept taking them on and off to re tape my feet.
You will also notice that on the front of the gaiters, due to the amount of rocky sections in the run they did get worn slightly but not to an amount I would be concerned about and I would be perfectly happy to use these again next year.


I took my trusty brooks road trainers with me. As the terrain was so varied I didn't see the point in changing over to a trail shoe and to be honest I think having the extra support from the trainer was beneficial.
One thing that was noted however was that the people who wore Hokas had the best feet at the end of the race so perhaps something to consider if you are looking at this race for this year or next.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kit review Part 1

Ok so here goes my first kit review. I have decided to split the kit reviews up so I can give a better focus to each item. Hopefully this will provide a good insight in to exactly what I used and what I would change for next year.

My first review will be on the clothing I wore for the run.

Those of you who have been following my blog or my facebook will know that Striders Edge very kindly sponsored me my clothing for the run and I can safely say that this is a brand I shall use time and time again. I did take a few other items with me which I will go in to further down this post.

So what did I take with me to the desert

I started the run in the kit above. My shorts were by Nike as Striders edge didn't sell shorts when I left for the desert. I chose these shorts as they were fairly breathable and I run in them all the time so I know they are comfortable. I don't really get along with the tighter running shorts and didn't want to risk it so I decided to stick these. I actually wore these for the entirety of the run, just putting my long bottoms on over the top rather than worrying about changing them all the time - thanks Mimi for this tip - although it did give an incredible VPL it was much easier.

My Calf guards are by skins - these are one thing that I hadn't actually used before so I broke my own rule with these and to be honest I have no idea if they helped or not. I took them off after the 2nd day I think it was (it all blurs) but they were very comfortable and didn't cause me any irritation at all which is always a plus point and if you usually wear calf guards then I don't think you would have any issues with these.

My top is by Striders edge and is the engineered climate map Lite T in sunny lime this was perfect for the temperatures in the desert. I didn't feel uncomfortable and it didn't get sticky at any point. It also helps that it is antibacterial which stops you from smelling like you have just run for hours in the heat (unfortunately it doesn't work miracles and stop you from looking like you have). This is one of my favourite T's from Striders Edge and I am hoping that they still have some on sale when I get paid :)



For the night time section I carried these Peak elements tights in my backpack. We did have the option of leaving our cold weather kit in a well placed drop bag - the only issue being that I had no idea how long each section would take me so by leaving my cold weather gear in a drop bag I left myself open to being out in the cold in my shorts and T-Shirt and I really didn't fancy that. These tights are slightly heavier than my other running bottoms but they were well worth the extra weight for the warmth they provided and the comfort. Again these are the only longer bottoms I took for the race and they were perfect.These are also antibacterial and are wind resistant which in the evenings was actually a bonus (not something I had expected to worry about in the desert).I didn't get any irritation at all from the bottoms and even after not being washed and worn every evening they still didn't smell and kept their shape perfectly. I didn't use the pockets on these for the run as I had plenty of pockets on my backpack but have used them when running in the colder weather in the UK and can vouch for them when they say they are designed to reduce whatever you stow digging into your body - they really do and look good to boot :)

Donning my peak elements tights ready for the colder night time section

Layers, Layers and more layers
core elements Gilet

Core elements Jacket


Soft brush insulated mid layer

I took the above layers from Striders edge interspersed with a top from Nike and one from Skins just to make sure I had some different options when I was out there as I wasn't sure how cold the evenings would be.
I am so pleased I did take all of the above tops as it did get very cold at night (the race organisers have altered the date of the race now to October with one of the reasons being it shouldn't be as cold at night in October)
Obviously what you need in cold weather is down to a persons individual preferences - I know that I get very cold very quickly so it was important for me to have lots of layers and to be able to keep warm because once you get too cold there is no getting warm again.
I chose to leave these tops in different drop bags rather than carry them with me (I carried my jacket instead which I will go on to in a moment) but was very pleased when I got to the checkpoints with these in, especially checkpoint 9 as it was very cold on the last night and for some reason I just couldn't get warm so I actually ended up wearing about 4 layers including 2 of the tops above my jacket and a t shirt.

The tops were comfortable, very soft (brushed on the inside for comfort) and breathable and again antibacterial. They all had the thumb through sports cuff which helped keeping my hands warm and they were all wind resistant as well. You can't really go wrong with these (unless you are a man in which case perhaps not the best option :) )

My Jacket was the Stride-lite run Jacket (again from Striders edge) I bought this in advance of the race and have been using it all through the winter. It has the trademark thumb through cuffs and although not fully waterproof it is shower proof so as long as you aren't going out in torrential rain you are fine. The jacket is very light so I carried it with me for the whole race and it was perfect to just put on whenever I felt a little cold.

With my Stride-Lite Jacket on at the finish of the race


Myself and Sarah were very lucky to have the support of Feetures Socks  they are an American company who have the most comfortable running socks. I used the ones below for the whole race - I did take some of their other ones but by the time I got halfway through the race my feet had swollen too much to be able to get them on. These ones were brilliant and very comfortable. Unfortunately they didn't prevent me from getting blisters but then again I don't think that anything would have prevented any of us from getting blisters over this distance. I shall continue to use this brand of sock from now on for all of my running and for the gym as well.

These are made from Marino+ a blend of Rayon from Bamboo and Marino wool. I chose these ones as they are the quarter length so they stop just above the ankle (I thought this would be good to prevent sand getting in).


Never underestimate the importance or versatility of a buff. I took 6 buffs with me - yes 6 - I had my Thermal one for the night time sections which proved to be one of the best things I took. And my other buffs were used as Headbands and for protection in the sand storms.
I actually saved Tom by very kindly giving him one of my buffs when he lost his in the checkpoint when we were held because of the sandstorm (I am not sure I will ever get this back) see people may have laughed at the amount of stuff we had for checkpoints but it did come in useful :)

I don't know what I did before I found out about these wonderful items now.
I didn't only have the standard buffs though - we were very kindly sent a Buff desert hat as well which had the neck protection. These were brilliant - light weight and easy to pack away as they rolled up - we also found that as they were quite thin, when it was hot pouring water over them made them an excellent cooling aid.

I will do a separate review later for my other kit including my gaiters, trainers, backpack, and glasses :)

Also as an update since the run I have been struggling with an injury on my hip (if you notice in the picture of me at the finish above I am holding my hip and leaning slightly) it is preventing me from running any great distance at the moment which is more than slightly irritating but not to say I am not doing anything - Insanity - Swimming - Gym - DONE

Friday, March 1, 2013

Part 4- CP4 to the finish line

We were soon set and ready to go, clothes changed muscles massaged and feet taped. Off we went to check point 4 on what was to be the hottest day of the race .................

To be continued
We left fairly early  - I think around 10am  but this day was one of the hottest we had with temperatures reaching 38 degrees. I had originally thought that the higher temperatures were going to cause me big problems but I was pleasantly surprised that I seemed to be coping with it quite well. There wasn’t any shade at all on this section of the course so we decided to just try and run as much of it as we could and take fewer walking breaks to make sure we got to the next checkpoint before we either ran out of water or burnt. As we neared the end of this section we became increasingly concerned because we couldn’t see any checkpoint even though it was mean to be directly in front of us, with less than 1k to go we still couldn’t see it and began to panic but thankfully a few hundred meters later it appeared and peace and happiness was restored J in the checkpoint we found Matt and Jamie, they had also been struggling with the heat and It was at this checkpoint that Matt decided it was time to stop and he pulled out of the race. We were gutted to see him go but wished him well and he very kindly offered the use of his drop bags at the next checkpoints should we need anything which was simply Marvelous J We rested a little here and had something to eat and another goodness shake. Jamie set off about 30 minutes before us on a mission to get another 30 miles done before the morning.
Once we had sorted our feet and put our tights and base layers on we too headed off in search of checkpoint 5. We started this section full of enthusiasm but were soon struggling – mainly with tiredness as we had only had a short 50 minute sleep, but also because with it being dark we only had a small area we could focus on and as this section was mainly sand it was very difficult. We kept going in to trance like states but we managed to keep going right up until about 5k from the next checkpoint before collapsing on the sand and deciding that enough was enough we were going to get in to our sleeping bags and have 30 minutes shut eye before continuing. Looking back now 5k seems so little but at the time there was nothing on this earth that would have made me go any further until I had rested (unless of course they had told me that there was a cream egg or some other such exciting object waiting for me at the checkpoint).
 The catnap seemed to do the trick and we headed off again on a mission to get to CP5. On arrival we were very surprised to see Bryan, Tom and Tony still there and that Jamie was not – he had apparently come in full of beans and decided to head off to the next checkpoint before stopping.

Will and Phillippa woke up (they had been sleeping outside) and came in to the tent to check we were ok and tape feet etc which was wonderful and I can’t thank them enough for this as I was really struggling with my hip at this point so a massage was a welcome relief. We chatted to the guys briefly before trying to get a bit of sleep – the plan was 2 hours and then go before it started to get hot.  Tom, Tony and Bryan left about an hour and a half before we did but not before Tom tucked me and Sarah in using the blanket he had been sleeping in as he thought we looked cold - bless :)
When I awoke to the alarm I am not ashamed to admit I had a few tears mainly due to exhaustion but also due to the challenge we still had to face. I was however placated by the fact that the next section was the dunes and the part I was most looking forward to. We headed off and much to our amusement were greeted by some pictures Tom and Bryan had drawn in the sand for us (I really wish I had taken pictures). The dunes were as good as I had expected them to be – pretty painful on the feet as there was a lot of climbing sideways and running full throttle down the other side but such a laugh.

A dune - the actual dunes section was far dunier but I like this picture :)
CP6 was at an oasis which was beautiful to see but not so nice to stay at because of the amount of flies. We didn’t spend very long here before moving on – deciding that we would have a little rest later.

Me and Sarah after the dunes at CP6

 This was one of my worst sections of the course. I was both physically and mentally drained we had done 90 miles already and bearing in mind my longest run before this race had only been 47 miles I was well out of my comfort zone. I don’t think it helped that this section of the course was also one of the most barren and you could see for miles where you had to get to. We soldiered on though taking a few rest breaks here and there until eventually the sand storm hit.

Me resting my eyelids NOT sleeping

 It was getting dark at this point and we stopped to change in to something warmer and made sure we had our buffs pulled down to our glasses and another pulled up over our mouths to keep out as much sand as possible (if we are honest it was more so that we had an excuse to look like ninjas). The sand of course still managed to get in and when we got to about 1k from the checkpoint I had lost all vision in my right eye as the sand had covered my contact lenses. On arrival we were again surprised to see not only Tom, Bryan and Tony there but also Jamie. Because of the sand storm the race had been put on hold as it was deemed to dangerous to continue and Jamie had also managed to injure his calf muscle which was a really concern.
The sand storm although we wouldn't admit it at the time was a blessing in disguise as it meant we could all take some much needed rest which I doubt we would have done had it not been forced upon us. As there were so many of us at the checkpoint and we were all due to stay the night we had to begin the task of moving everything around so we could all fit in. Jamie was already asleep and completley out of it by this point so we just dragged him sleeping mat and all in to his new spot - he doesn't even remember us doing this. After we had stopped Bryan snoring we all had a restful few hours kip ready to get going again in the morning.
The following morning we were allowed to leave at about 5am but because I am rubbish at getting myself together in the morning Sarah and I didn’t leave until 6am meaning the boys had a head start (read this as the only reason they beat us)
 I have to admit though seeing them at the last few checkpoints had really increased my enthusiasm and we set off in good spirits. The sandstorm was still going strong but not as bad as the previous night. We pushed through this longer 30k stage and on to CP8 where we saw a figure running towards us in Orange – at the time it made perfect sense to me that this would be Keith because he had an orange jumper on when we first met him at the hotel so of course he would be the only person to be wearing orange (no idea why I thought that) it turns out it was actually Tom running towards us which I found amusing because surely he should be resting but none the less I was very pleased to see him– When Tom reached us he explained that the race had again been put on hold because the sand storm had gotten worse further down the course and as two runners had gotten lost during the night they didn’t want to risk letting any of us go (the sand interrupts the GPS signals so it would have been hard for us to keep on course and with the sand blowing they wouldn’t have been able to track us)

As you can see we were all in good spirits at this point – I think seeing everyone made it better as we were able to recount our own adventures but at the same time we were all itching to get moving again as we knew we that we only had about a Marathon or just over left to go. We all spent our time doing different thinks – checking kit/taping feet/eating food/sunbathing……. No that was just Tom he decided to sunbathe and also wash his hair – in a completely straight way of course.
At about 17:00 we were given the all clear and headed off for the final few stages of the race. It gets dark about 18:30 at this time of year in Egypt so we knew we would run the final section at night which was a shame as we had been hoping (before the sand storm) to complete this section by 7pm and thus only run the final part in the dark.

The lads soon stormed ahead and we lost sight of them but that was probably a good thing because we were following waypoints where as they were doing CP – CP so we would have gotten ourselves confused anyway. The sunset was incredible and is something I will never forget – I had to take a moment to pinch myself and prove I was actually there.
The next few checkpoints were passed through in a bit of a daze, we rested at each one – I was completely exhausted at this point but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would finish the race and that alone was enough to make me keep going – or as Sarah would say – put my big girl pants on and get on with it.

On the last checkpoint before the finish we had a little visitor to the tent in the form of one of the desert foxes – it kept coming in, pinching the eggs from the tray at the entrance and then running off again. Such a lovely thing to see and it really lifted my spirits.

We ran the final section as the sun started to rise and were once again astounded by the incredible scenery around us it truly has to be seen to be believed. We were soon able to see the campsite ahead but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. We kept going until we finally saw people moving around and it finally began to hit us that we were about to finish the Ocean Floor 160 mile race – my emotions completely over took me and I cried my way over the finish line. The sheer euphoria at crossing that line is one that I will never forget and seeing all of my new found friends there to greet us was just the icing on the cake.

The finish of our 160 mile run

That evening the Egyptian team put on a show for us and there was lots of singing and dancing (not by me as I couldn’t walk at this point due to the swelling in my feet) we also had the awards ceremony which was wonderful and really made everyone feel special no matter how long it had taken or if they hadn’t completed the race for whatever reason no one was left out.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a MASSIVE thank you to Keith and his team - There couldn't have been a better team of people. No task was too much and no arrival time to the CP was too late or too early. You were truly wonderful and we look forward to seeing you in October 2014 for our second running of the race (although anyone interested in running it can actually go and do it this October - I just cant fit it in this year)

I have made some life long friends on this race and can honestly say it has been a life changing experience in more ways than one ....

A massive thank you to Sarah Gardenr Hall for running with me - I have made a true best friend in her and she now know everything there is to know about me which I am not sure if it is a good thing or not :)

I will be posting some kit reviews soon and will add a few more photos and if I can figure out how some videos as well :) thankyou for taking the time to read my long drawn out version of events.

Oh and before I forget - we didn't just run on sand these are some of the surfaces we ran on

Ocean floor race 1 - toenails -4

Monday, February 25, 2013

Start - CP3 - and more pictures :)

....... approx 1 hour and an impromptu side of the road toilet stop later we pulled up at what was to be the start of the Ocean Floor race 2013. 
There was a lot of checking of Garmins, making sure everyones was pointing the same way (incidentally some weren't so it was a good job this was checked) and time for a few photos before Keith pulled us all in to a huddle and wished us all luck on what was sure to be an incredible adventure - not only for us but also for the support crew - for whom it would also be the first time helping out on a race like this. 
And that was it - we were off.

At the start line

It felt very odd to finally have started running this race - one which myself and Sarah and all the others had been planning for for so long and we were finally on our way. I watched as many of the other runners raced off ahead - it was very hard to stick to the plan and stay at a steady pace but we did and fell in to step with Matt and Jamie whom we would spend the entire first leg with.

We had decided to go way point to way point not only to make sure we didn't get lost but to help us break down the race in to smaller sections. We knew from the start that this race wasn't going to be finished only because of how much training we had done, it was going to get to a point where we would have to run with our minds and our hearts and somehow doing it this way we figured we could trick our brains in to thinking we had less to do than we actually did and therefore make it easier.

We spent much of this section running along getting to know each other, chatting about races we had run, what training we had put in, where we worked etc etc. We took loads of pictures and found some particularly lovely mounds that looked like nipples :)

Me, Sarah and Jamie pointing out the nipple

The beginning of the race

doing our Jazz hands
Any thoughts of it being slightly cold (as it had been raining the days before) had been completely wiped from our mind. It wasn't un bearable as it had been on a training run in Dubai recently but it was certainly warm enough to notice it.
We safely navigated our way to check point one without too much fuss. On arrival I was feeling a bit sick - I think this was a mix of the heat, carrying the backpack (I had only run with it twice in training so would suggest anyone else doing this race in October does alot more training with their backpack with it's full weight before going out) and just generally getting used to it all.

I saw a little concern on the faces of the support crew at this point - they were obviously worried because we were only 15 miles in and I was already struggling but I wasn't going to let myself worry.
I sat down and had my Chocolate for Goodness Shake (my favourite flavour) and ate a but of pasta which was cooked for us by the Egyptian guys manning the tents.
As we knew it was going to start getting colder soon we chose to put on our longer bottoms at this point rather than having to stop and do it in the dark, and we also put on one of our base layers (when I say we - I mean me as Sarah had forgotten to put her bottoms in her back pack more about this later). 
Once we were all ready we set off again. after a little discussion Sarah and I decided to let Jamie and Matt go on as I was still struggling with feeling a little queasy and didn't want to push myself so early on and regret it later. This was quite a big decision however as anyone who knows me or has read my blog before knows that I hate the dark with a passion and the night time sections were the ones I was most worried about.
We managed to keep the guys in site for quite a while but just as it started to get dark we lost site of them. We hadn't seen them for about 20 - 30 minutes when all of a sudden in the distance we saw two lights bouncing around in the distance. We were quite a way off but by this point I was really beginning to panic at being out in the middle of the desert, just the two of us and no one to turn to for help should we need it. My mind was beginning to imagine all sorts of horrible things happening and I wanted nothing more than to catch the guys up ahead. So of course in our completely rational decision making we decided it would be an excellent idea to run as fast as we could until we caught the guys up. I was running at the sort of pace I would for a 10k event whilst carrying a very heavy backpack, trying not to fall over the rocks and ignoring the voice in the back of my head that told me that I was being absolutely ridiculous.
We were getting closer and we figured the guys had spotted us but they kept running and I swear they were getting faster - little sods - eventually we caught them and I was so pleased I forgot that I needed to breathe.
It was only about 10k to the next checkpoint (2) and we kept pace with the guys for this section. when we got to about 3k away from the checkpoint we saw a group of runners coming back towards us - it was Tom, Bryan, Tony and I believe George was also with them at this point. It was great to see them and hear that there was some nice food at the next checkpoint :) after a quick hug and a few wishes of good luck we carried on and the boys made their way on to check point 3.

At the checkpoint we sat down and had some food, another Goodness shake and some pepsi and a coffee.

In checkpoint 2 with one of our Egyptian helpers
  At this checkpoint Sarah and I decided to have a little sleep and wait until the moon came out in the hope that there would be a little extra light and that would help me with my fear of the dark. We let the guys at the tent know and they sprung in to action to erect a tent for us and got out some sleeping mats and bags for us. This was excellent as it meant we didn't have to worry about sorting ours. We actually only slept for 50 minutes but did spend a deal longer at the checkpoint when we add in all of the time spent checking our feet, eating, drinking and getting our bits from the drop bags ready for the next section (this is something I would perhaps look at revising next year).

We awoke to the sound of Dhiaa arriving at the camp with the news that Kennwynne would be arriving at the checkpoint soon - so we got out of the tent and got ready so we could see her before we left.
After some well wishes to Kennwyne we set off again in to the night. Strangely this time I felt a lot calmer, I am not sure if it is because I had settled in to the fact that if I was to complete the race I would have to bite the bullet and go out in the dark or if it was because we were going out in to the dark when it was already dark as opposed to it slowly getting darker as we were going along. Either way I felt better and we proceeded to run walk the next section at a steady pace and feeling very comfortable.
Whilst running along we noticed some trees that looked a little like bonsai trees. We decided that we wanted to try and get a picture of these so we focused our hope headtorches on to one of the trees and turned the flash off on the camera (AKA Iphone) and this was the resulting image - one we were very pleased with :)

Our masterpiece

This section was probably one of our better ones, running through the sunrise was truly incredible and something I am so happy to have witnessed, it was truly magnificent and I felt so lucky to be there in that moment even if it did mean I had to face my fears. We arrived at checkpoint 3 in the early hours of the morning and were greeted by the site of Jamie and Matt who had stopped here to have a sleep and were just about to head off towards checkpoint 4.

I had a bit of a headache :(
 The boys set off and myself and Sarah went in to the checkpoint had our shakes (made up in our 2 litre water bottles) and had our feet tended to by the wonderful Keith and his ladies Pippa and Sarah (you can see Pippa and Sarah in the back of this photo). Will was also at the checkpoint which was great as my right hip had started causing me some issues. I had taped it with Rock tape but took the opportunity to have it massaged before we headed off to the next checkpoint.
We had a change of clothes at checkpoint 3 which was wonderful - there is nothing better than the feeling of clean kit. Sarah however having forgotten to put her long bottoms in her backpack had hoped she would have  a pair at this checkpoint so she could give the ones she had borrowed off Jamie back to him but it seems that for some reason she had missed them out of this one as well so Jamie's trousers were to prove to be a life saver as I am sure Sarah would have frozen otherwise.

We were soon set and ready to go, clothes changed muscles massaged and feet taped. Off we went to check point 4 on what was to be the hottest day of the race .................

To be continued

Friday, February 22, 2013

OFR Part 1

The day was almost here. Sarah arrived at my house on the 30th January and we spent most of the evening packing and re packing our kit bags and checking the food we were taking, adding and removing items and generally faffing.
We finally went to bed at about 1am and after a restless sleep headed off to the airport. It was here that we met up with Mathew Neal who was to become a life saver later on in the week and Kenwynne Barber a wonderdul and inspiring lady.
Our flight was delayed so we passed the time chatting about previous races and getting to know each other - it was nice to be around such like minded people and all of us so excited and nervous about the prospect running 160 miles.
Eventually it was time to board - it was finally beginning to hit me what we were about to do

We were flying with Egypt air and Sarah and I had managed to secure some extra leg room seats which was great because I hate being cramped up.
The flight passed quite quickly - I hate take off but once we were up I put a film on to my Ipad and watched that for most of the flight.
On arrival in to Egypt we were greeted by a gentleman from the Cairo Novotel Hotel and were swiftly taken to collect our baggage whilst he sorted our visas. I have been to Egypt before so the fact that he ran off with our passports didn't really phase me - the others however were a little uncertain. Thankfully he did come back passports and all and took us to the hotel :) I can still hear Matts sigh of relief

On arrival we were greeted by a very happy Keith - it was nice to finally meet him after pestering him with so many questions on Facebook. We also met Will our physio, Adrian one of the helpers and Jamie who certainly beat me on the red hair stakes. I am sure there was someone else there as well and I feel awful but I can't for the life of me remember who it was - sorry :(

We stayed and had a few drinks with the guys before retiring to bed. We planned on relaxing the next day and using the time to sort our drop bags - I secretly had hoped to do a spot of sunbathing but alas the weather was not on my side it was actually raining the next day when we went down to breakfast so we spent the day inside and went a bit OTT on the drop bag organisation as a result :)

Drop Bags OTT Style

We had a plan for our drop bags, we would have hot food in every other drop bag, snacks and sweets in all of them and a change of clothes in bags 3/5/7/9. We also has several packs of batteries for the head torches, sun lotion, bio freeze and in every single one a goodness shake. We did also make time for a little look around the hotel shops. Tony took a particular liking to this headress

Throughout the day various other people arrived we met with Bryan Rudd, Tony Hugill and Tommaso and George.
Sharon, Pietro and Tom all arrived on a later flight and as we knew the flight Tom was on I managed to organise him a meet and greet at the airport for which he seemed quite thankful :)
 That evening we met the rest of the crew - Pippa who was our doctor and Sarah who was a physio. both lovely ladies whom I will never forget.

The morning of the race we were all up and down for breakfast early. It was great to finally meet everyone and we got our first glimps of the hoodies we were to get after the race as all of the race crew were wearing them. There was such a buzz in the air. The coach arrived on time (unheard of in Egypt) and once we had all checked out we were on our way to the desert for the start of the OFR 2013.

The troups on the bus

Me and Sarah
Me and Jamie

Chatting on the way to the desert
I would love to say that the Journey to the airport went without a hitch .............. but about 30 minutes in to the Journey we realised that our van was having a few issues in that whenever the driver took his foot off the accelerator the van stalled. So of we went to make a quick pitstop and to change buses. It was here that my last photos would be taken - I stupidly managed to leave my phone on the old bus when we transferred over to the new one. I was absoloutly gutted I had planned to do little video diaries and to take hundreds of pictures. Luckily we still had Sarahs phone so all was not lost.
On the plus side our little pitstop gave Tom the time to discover an exciting new aspect to his MDS bag - it has a strap to help releive the pressure from your back to your head - simply wonderful

Tom demonstrating his new toy

About an hour and a half later and we were on our way again. It was a long journey, we stopped for lunch on the way and once we arrived at the meeting point it was very dark. We met with some jeeps and drove for about 15-20 mintes in to the white desert. This was the first time we met Dhiaa who was to be our host for the week he was fascinating to listen too (the official tour guide for the National Geographic). On arrival in to camp we were more than pleasantly surprised to find that rather than one tent with everyone sleeping on the floor (which for some reason is just what I had expected) there were tents that slept up to three and we had real actual beds with matresses and quilts. I couldn't believe it. There was even a toilet and a shower tent, a tent for eating and sitting in and a kitchen tent. It was marvellous and such a luxury which we hadn't expected.

Of course the first order of the evening was to have our race briefing - Keith explained the race plans to us and we decided to start the run slightly earlier the next day given that most people were eager to get going. After this we moved on to the most important part of the evening - the Onesie party :) prior to arriving in Cairo several of us had met on facebook and myself and Sarah had decided it would be a great idea if we all bought a onesie and wore it in the camp - little did we know that poeple would actually agree with us but they did and this was the outcome :)


I am sure that some of the others were looking at us like we were mental (this was before they found out that we actually were mental).
We all took an early night keen to sleep to make the race day come quicker just like we used to do when we were younger on Christmas Eve.
I slept surprisingly well and on race morning woke refreshed and ready to go. We had breakfast and finished packing all of our kit and took our drop bags out to the designated area in camp. We then settled around Dhiaa to listen to some information and guidance on the route and how to work out flares.

Dhiaa drawing the map for the run in the sand
Once the race briefing was over we had time for a few last minute photos and then we were off for the one hour drive to the start line

This is where I am going to leave the blog for now - I haven't even started the run yet but I didn't want to miss anything out :) I will return soon with part two and a lot more photos of this incredible and life changing event.