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

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