6 Apr, 0900GMT: Stage Two, 31.1km (19.32mi):
If you noticed yesterday, the start of the race was according to GMT, which, incidentally, is one hour earlier from local time, which means we turned our watches back one hour. Another twist of the MdS, we were truly on our own program. (As an aside, I brought only my Timex Ironman, no GPS watch for me, no keeping track of pace, only hours.) Other things the race did were to hide the checkpoints behind terrain features, so you rarely saw them until you were less than 1K away but then placed the bivouac sites within your sight line, often from 5K out. Merciless humour.
The distance of Stage Two was not particularly daunting, but once you looked at the map of the day's route, you realized why it was less than 20 miles - three mountainous climbs and descents, with two ridge-line runs, and a 7K flat but searing slog across a dried salt bed. This is what the course looked like on the map:
|From the top of the last ascent, you could see the bivouac, 8K away.|
|Yes, a rocky descent, then sand dunes before the bivouac.|
|Start of the day.|
|From the top of the first climb.|
|The ridge line.|
|Halfway up the last ascent. Mosi took the photo. That's me, #877.|
Stage Two was my favorite for a variety of reasons - the ascents, the views and the undulating rocky trails - despite the terror I felt during the third descent. Seriously. My heart rate felt like it was higher going down than it was going up.
Health assessment at the end of the day: Heel blisters worse, especially on the left foot. Large blister on my fourth toe, right foot. A weird pain above and in front of my right ankle. Tender to the touch with a small lump. I assumed it was my shoe structure and made some modifications with my knife to the top of my shoe. Other tent mates had similar foot issues, mostly blisters though, with Dean & Alissa getting some on the bottom of their feet. There is no real remedy for this but to lance them, drain them, cover them in iodine and tape them up in the morning, raw or dry, for the next's day's trek.
|Laundry at the bivouac.|
7 Apr, 0900GMT: Stage Three, 36.7km (22.8mi):
A lot of people asked me what I thought about during all the time out on the course. Thankfully, I was able to be in the moment most of the time and just be, without pondering how to resolve the world's crises. I will say that Mosi and I had some fun and random conversations that punctuated each day and on Stage Three we crafted the broadcast sign-offs for each major newscaster in recent history, with a twist, gangsta style, as in "This is Dan Rather and that's the muthaf***in' news up in this b***! Watch yo' back."
Absurd humor notwithstanding, this was my least favorite stage. Not because it was particularly difficult with respect to terrain, but because I got into my head a little too much about the race, my goals, the munchkins and thinking about Stage Four. As a result, I didn't enjoy the course, and by the time I got past CP2, at 25.9km, onto a whole series of steady, sandy rolling hills (not dunes, mind you, just sandy enough for no traction, so extremely tiring), I was ready for the stage to be over.
So yeah, no photos from the course this day.
|See those undulating sandy hills? Yeah, they were no fun for me.|
|Tent 178, still going strong with seven! A little dirtier, perhaps.|
|Mickael, one of the eight members of the Transavia team. They were in Tent 179, our next door neighbours for the week.|
Oh yes, the bacon jerky. It was pretty much heaven to have out there and there was much sharing of it, both to tent mates and to other runners along the course. (You can keep your British beef jerky, Kieran!)