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Day 4 – the big one.

 

Apologies for a short day 3 report; I had to seek medical attention. For the first time I needed a drip which just goes to show how tough and hot the first three days were.

Again there was a staggered start designed this time to ensure that every runner had to run part of the race after the sun went down. It also means that the checkpoints do need to be open for extended periods. The slowest runners set off at 6.00am with the leader, Hylton Dunn, being held back until 1pm. Unfortunately Patrick H and Fergus had to pull out before the start.

Mr Sandman, Estienne, regained some of his reputation by sending the runners up a sandy river bed first thing. Sandy river beds have not been a major feature this year which is fortunate given the high temperatures and the fact that running or even trudging through deep sand saps your strength. The temperature was a little cooler than the day before but still very hot. Given that the runners had already endure three days of heat Day 4 was brutal.

We were treated to some wonderful scenery; lots of conical koppies, swathes of rose quartz then some wide open views. Punctuating this beautiful barren landscape were some little oasises, checkpoints with shade and water. There was always a warm welcome and attentive. It was good to see retired runners at some of the checkpoints giving much needed encouragement; they truly knew what a challenge we were having. Later in the day some of the checkpoints looked like a scene from MASH. Runners would be lying on the floor receiving a drip, having blisters treated and in at least one case both at the same time. Lorraine was videoed by an excited Holly (film crew) who had never filmed a blister being drained. Lorraine had several. Others were sleeping for a short while. At CP4 I had a lie down, a first for me, Day 4 was turning into a very tough challenge.

We witnessed a magnificent sunset as a big red sun slipped below the horizon and then a little later a red moon rose. The later checkpoints had hot water so some runners witnessed the sunset and moon rise sipping a cup of coffee or eating a rehydrated meal. Surprisingly there were only two drop outs; Pierre went relatively early with a foot problem. He stayed with the checkpoint crew and helped and encouraged his fellow runners, Thank you Pierre. Karline had to drop out shortly after nightfall. It is a testament to the medical team that there were not more casualties.

After the sun went down the temperature didn’t particularly. It was still 26 degrees C at 10pm. Running, or walking, in the Kalahari under a full moon is an honour, although most of us were just grinding out the ‘k’s and did not appreciate it as much as we should. One disadvantage of running at night is that you can see the lights of a checkpoint from a long way away – they are the only lights. You run and run or walk and walk and they never seem to get any closer.

People arrive in Camp, a most delightful spot by the Orange River between 8.50pm and 8am the following morning. I think those trying to sleep regretted the introduction of a bell to ring on the finish line. The late arrivals were so pleased to have come to the end of their ordeal and finish that they rang it loudly waking the sleeping earlier arrivals.

Camp was very quiet, everyone was tired and just wanted to rest or soak themselves in the river. There was some excitement when Gen arrived. She announced that as it was the 20th edition a special prize would be given to the runner that finished 20th in the standings at the end of day four. That was Annie Dougal who received a voucher for 50% off her next entry. She also received a cold can of Coke. I’m not sure which she appreciated the most. All the other runners also received a cold drink.

Today is a chance to rest and recover – 50k tomorrow.

Leaders

Men

1st Hylton Dunn

2nd Russell Nugent

3rd John Williamson

Ladies

1st Helene Buley

2nd Erica Terblanche

3rd Annabelle Latz

Runners quotes.

The rest day! Yippee! Lovely river, hot sun and an awesome surprise! After a loooong 77k yesterday how lucky are we ………? Time for another dip in that cool river I think – Annie

What an incredible journey. They say if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you…..Consider us challenged and changed. – Sandra & Genna (The Cows)

OMG Blisters, Blisters, Blisters – never before like this. Heat in Death Valley and beyond was extreme. But what a beautiful race, beautiful volunteers and amazing runners – Lorraine

Long day was a hard day. Very hot and lots of sand. Still going. Hopefully Thursday will be a less taxing day. Remember that pain is weakness leaving the body – Harry

The Long day was too long for me! Went through hell and woke up in paradise on the grassy banks of the Orange River – beautiful sports you would never see without the KAEM – Hugh.

There is more than one Death Valley in this place. Two more nights to go – do I feel some Stockholm syndrome kicking in? – Julian.

Day 5 Rest day. Swim day. Repair all damages day. Get a free ice ice cold drink! Those who made it to camp are extremely glad to have survived the long day. It was terribly tough and we all struggled – mental and physical lows. Beautiful moonlight during the night. Fantastic crew at the checkpoints. The medics are incredible – life savers and we love them. Beautiful camp at the river and the water is lovely. Thank goodness for the rest day! Very encouraging to receive emails from home. Thank you. M