And, so it came to pass… Race day 1 was upon us!
I had a relatively good sleep and only got woken twice. Once as it was windy and my body needed to get up at 02:00 for ‘relief’. It was ‘cold’ at 02:00, possibly below the 10 degrees it was the night before.
Camp life starts approx 05:15 with the noise of the lorry motors being started, preparing for the camp to be dismantled. So, it’s hard to get wakened and start your day too. Therefore, up & at ’em!
Collecting twigs etc around camp the evening before meant we had a wee stash for heating water for breakfast. Pot filled, fire on. Breakfast soon.
I had a rather yummy Custard and apple from Exp foods. Having tried them before I knew it worked for me. With 800 calories for 180 grams it means you get a good feed before setting off.
I wouldn’t say the tent was nervous as such but you could definitely feel there change to the atmosphere of camp as racing was starting real soon.
Breakfast done. Bag repacked and all things ‘ticked off’, i.e. water collected and poured into bottles, salt tabs in an easy reach pocket, I was walking to the start line.
Before we lined up, there was the obligatory photo. We were penned into the number 32 and the helicopter circled overhead taking shots and live feed, for we were being beamed into hundreds of homes, across various channels.
To try and ensure we knew where we were, the Lion rampant got raised above our heads. I took a photo of the helicopter circling, as you do.
Can you spot us in the 32?
As with most of my previous races, I try to get as close to the start line as possible. However, with like minded folks there too, I ended up being three lines from the front. Not too bad at all. You could still see the start line and the opening of the course in front of you.
I enjoy the feeling of being at the front. Regardless of where I end up within minutes of the gun going off, it’s always good to see the pace the front runner can set and it’s all down to yourself to either think your good enough to try and keep up with them or, ignore the fact you’ve just been passed by 50 folk in 50 meters.
The latter didn’t bother me at all and I was keen to stick to my ‘plan’.
Off I set, towards CP1, 12k away. The going was good underfoot for the first few k so I was running, running somewhere in the first 100-150 peeps and running well within my pace.
Running up the front it’s easy to see the pack string out and folks settling into their pace and it didn’t take long before we hit sand.
The road book we are all given read a little something like this…
K0 – Go South (course 175 degrees)
K1 Follow the Oued
K4 Leave Oued from left side, go South (course 170 degrees) over stoney plateau
K5.5 Hilly passage
K6.7 Cluster of rocks on left side. Go SSE (course 151 degrees) sandy terrain
K8 Enter line of dunes. Go SE (course 135 degrees) until CP1
K8.9 End of dunes. Cross Oued. Flat, sandy terrain with stones
K9.5 Follow markings between lines of dunes
K13 CP1 at end of dunes. Go ESE (course 115 degrees) over slightly stony plateau
So, as you see, we had a 13k stretch of variable terrain.
All seemed well. Temperature wasn’t a problem, at the moment. So all was ok… right up until my stomach decided to tell me otherwise. That would be approx 6k in. However, I kind of ignored it and keep on running. Running towards CP1 with a good pace. I came through CP1 in 1Hr and 9mins. Only 18mins (lol) behind the leader.
Due to a little bit of walking to try and settle the stomach, I came through in 226th place. Not that I’d know that at that point.
With water refilled, I set off running, in search of CP2…