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.

1 comment:

  1. Great start Amanda, looking forward to the next episode.