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By Lorainne Wilkinson

Day 1: The sand entered my Salomon runners which were two weeks old and already starting to split in places. I was wearing half gaiters. Living in Canada and running in snow for 7 months of the year sand getting into my shoes did not seem to enter my thoughts at all. So, after day 1 finished the balls of my feet were a little sore, but it was hot and a different climate to my norm. I emptied the sand from my runners and got on with my tasks of feeding myself and sorting out for the next day.

Day 2: The BLISTERS were present and felt pretty awful by the end of the day my feet were sore. Off came the runners and gee what the hell I have never had blisters like that before. But whatever get on with it tape them. Blisters covered the most of the ball of both feet and the toes don’t forget the toes. I mended my feet and scrounged Duct Tape from Kim thank you Kim… to stick on the runners to stop sand getting in which did not work, but I had to try as the pain was getting pretty bad. I also had a bladder infection to deal with too.

Day 3: OMG the pain was unbearable to say the least and I have a high pain tolerance. So Off I started and thinking back my mind was blank to the amount of pain blisters can give you yet you’re able to carry on regardless. I had to seek attention from the Doc and the Medics at this time as my own taping was not enough. A decision was made the skin had to come off as infection was present. So off it came OUCH…. New dressing applied and standing up and trying to walk was the most difficult thing. I tried to walk normal so no one could see I was a mess. I had to finish this race was all I could hear my self-saying. It was the most pain I ever felt in my life up until that point, but it did get worst later on walking in the water at the end was like walking through acid. So, I kept on telling myself remember what dad used to say when I fell and complained of pain in my knee. He would say “Pain is a figment of your imagination girl”. It works, for the most part, believe me and this is what kept me going for the next 4 days.

Day 4: The long day 77 km. How was I going to get through this day and finish the race on these feet? Oh yes, I remember pain is a figment of your imagination I nearly forgot. Well it took me 24.45 hours to finish day 4 and it took Hilton Dunn 24.37 hours to run the full 7 days WOW amazing man. Every time Hilton passed me as it was a delayed start he would give me encouragement to continue; thank you Hilton it meant so much. Then the lovely Doc Tamsin walked with me to the checkpoints giving me encouragement and watching my progress too. Also, the Paramedic, Dustin, walked with me on the last day so much encouragement and I was so grateful to have you both with me.

Day 5: Rest day thank the lord but it was early morning by the time I finished day 4.

Day 6: 50 km seemed to me the easiest not sure why, I think my brain was fried by now or the pain killers kicked in.

Day 7: Only 23 km to go to the finish that will be easy I thought even with blisters. I was so wrong this was the hardest day, but I had to keep going. I truly wanted to finish I had come so far not to. As I walked around the last corner tears fell from my eyes. I was overwhelmed. Everyone runners, staff, supporters, medical staff, photographers absolutely everyone was there lining the finish. Clapping, cheering, the Mexican wave. I have never been so emotional at the finish line ever and never felt such an accomplishment for a challenge for myself. I had FINISHED.  It took me 74.14 hours to complete the 7 days. I believe the longest time ever over the years. But I did finish and getting to ring that big brass bell at the end was so powerful and fulfilling I will never forget how that felt.

What kept me going I ask myself?

1: Pain is a figment of your imagination girl

2: I had pulled out of a few big races and my graduation for my degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing due to the tragic sudden loss of my dearest brother-in-law.

I had to finish this there was no other way to think about it.

3: The care and encouragement from the organizing team, the volunteers, photographers, runners, the dessert itself, the medics and the lovely Doctor Tamsin. Also, for my Ron for volunteering and spending his 60th birthday out there in the desert giving us all so much support.

4: Lastly ME!!! I had challenged myself to do this and being a stubborn arse, I had to finish for me. I knew I had the strength as it was only my feet that were giving me grief my mind and body were still strong. I am a fit 60-year-old and had put in the training minus the sand of course.

My message to others

In life we are challenged not only by others but mostly by ourselves in what we do every day. To run this amazing race was one of the most amazing challenges in my life. I would not be the person I am today if I had not taken part. I learned so much about myself even at the age of 60 over the 7 days. The strength you can pull on in yourself, the determination to finish was so powerful for me, and the encouragement from others was out of this world. I gained so many new friendships, met so many wonderful amazing people. I got to see part of South Africa that so many people will never see in their lifetime. I slept under the stars in the Kalahari Desert for 7 nights who can say they have done that.

Would I do it again?? Hell, YES, I am already paid in full for 2020. So, come on set yourself a challenge and join me on this amazing race and amazing journey in life.