Atacama Crossing 2015 – Stage One

4 October 2015

Greetings from Camp 2 at the end of Stage 1 of the 2015 Atacama Crossing in Chile.

Stage 1 is done and dusted. Ryan Hill and I finished the 37km first stage together in 4h47, joined 14/15th position.

However, before I tell you more about today’s run, I would like say happy birthday to Dalene. I hope you have a fantastic day, and as you know, I’m doing this race just for you!!!!

We arrived at Camp 1 late on Sunday evening after a full day of gear checking and other admin issues back in San Pedro. The camp site was about 90 minutes’ drive from San Pedro, right in the middle of beautiful canyon. After settling into my tent and meeting my tent mates for the week – from Brazil, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, US – is was time for my first freezed dried meal (hate that stuff) and then straight to bed – read sleeping bag on the hard rocky surface of the Atacama. And what a night we all had as a first introduction to the Atacama Desert. It was freezing cold, and with our campsite at more than 3000m above sea level, I really struggled to sleep. The end result was a definite lack of enthusiasm for running when we were told at 06h00 this morning that we had two hours to the start of the race.

But in the end stage one was much better than expected. It is always nice to get the first stage out of the way. The first 26km was fairly moderate through a few valleys and open plains, but then we hit a tough 5-6km uphill section in very hot conditions. This section is going to test the late finishers this afternoon. Although the landscape was not as dramatic as what I witnessed around San Pedro, we are still surrounded by snow-capped mountains and volcanic picks as far as the eye can see.

It was great running with Ryan again – we completed the Sahara, Gobi and Antarctica races together, and only need the Atacama Crossing to join the 4Deserts Club. But, one stage at a time, 210km to go!

Other than one blister and a bit of stiffness in the shoulders and calves, I feel fairly good and ready for tomorrow’s second stage – 44.5km which include 8km of various river crossings.

I’m dedicating my participation in the Atacama Crossing to the work of The Sunflower Fund in South Africa. Visit http://www.sunflowerfund.org.za to learn more about their work and how you can make a contribution.

Until tomorrow.

Best wishes

David

(This blog was first published on the 4Deserts website)

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