Jun 24, 2017
Wow, what a day!!!! And what an event. The terrain makes this the toughest race I’ve ever attempted, multiplied by a thousand. This course is really, really hard. But the people are great and the race organisation is second to none.
Whether it be giant sand dunes (including the biggest dune in the Simpson Desert – Big Red), gibber plain littered with tennis ball sized rocks, eroded ground with holes everywhere (I trod on one and my foot disappeared almost to the knee), or potholed ground from cattle treading all over it, there was virtually no part of the run that wasn’t really difficult. At times we had to crawl up the sand dunes, so steep were they. Fast times went out the window after the first few kilometres. And the temperature in the direct sun was officially measured as 46.8 C (27 C in the shade). And that’s winter. Outrageous.
As tough as it was, I did manage to place 4th on the stage (there are 55 competitors). Early on I was about 25th, but gradually made my way through the field as many of those who started too quickly began to fade. I finished this first marathon stage in 4:59:05. It’s probably my slowest ever marathon in a race, but I reckon the effort was worth a 3:15. My new friend, Tim, won the stage with a 4:19.
I’m now at the camp, watching the tail of the field come in. Telstra have provided satellite internet here in the middle of nowhere, which is much appreciated. Tomorrow is going to be another tough day, and that’s not even considering how tired and sore we’ll all be. It will be very interesting to see who backs up well. Some might fall apart. I hope I’m not one of them.
Here’s a photo from the top of Big Red. We had to run along the ridge of this massive sand dune for about 1 km, just before the end of the stage. It was definitely soft sand running, as was much of the day. In retrospect, I’m amazed I was able to go under five hours.
On This Day
Jun 24, 2012
Distance today = 50.88 km; Total distance = 8272.36 km; Location = North Branch, Minnesota – 45 30.711′ N, 92 59.231′ W; Start time = 0836, Finish time = 1701
Despite it being hot and humid, I had a good run today. The countryside was a mix of forests and very green crops, and the roads weren’t too busy and had good shoulders on them.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m finding my appetite is no larger, and perhaps less than, when I’m not covering such distances. I am just not hungry most of the time. If I force myself to eat when I’m not hungry, I end up feeling sick. So last night I had a small dinner, and I didn’t have breakfast before heading off this morning (because I didn’t feel like it). After 11 km I had a small sandwich, and I felt much better today because of it.
Something I’ve noticed in this region of northern Minnesota is the number of Scandinavian names. Further north there was a preponderance of Finnish names, and now it is predominantly Swedish. It’s logical, as the landscape is so similar to Scandinavia, with its green rolling hills, intermingled with thousands of lakes. Early Scandinavian settlers must have found it so much like home. It’s certainly a pleasure to run through.
Jun 24, 2013
Distance today = 53.89 km; Total distance = 22,050.41 km; Location = Norseman, WA (26 km north of) – 32 00.281’ S, 121 39.980′ E; Start time = 0749, Finish time = 1621
I knocked over another 54 km today, running through eucalypt forests, with not a town in sight. As you can imagine, it was a day without incident.
One noticeable exception was a massive oversize load. A normal oversize load simply has signs on the truck, indicating as much. If it’s a bit bigger, there’s an escort vehicle driving ahead of the truck. However, if the load takes up both sides of the road, then there are two escort vehicles, as well as a police escort driving down the wrong side of the road, forcing the oncoming traffic to pull over until the oversize load passes. This is what happened today, with two enormous mining diggers being transported north.
The other unusual issue here in WA is the road trains. I have seen numerous two, three, and four carriage road trains. The latter are often 53.5 metres long – more than half the length of a football field. Cars overtaking these behemoths had better make sure they have plenty of time to complete the manoeuvre.
I am now just 26 km north of Norseman. Tomorrow I will run into town, then start eastward, officially beginning my run across the Nullarbor.