....... 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|
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 :)
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 :(|
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