Saturday, 1 October 2016

Gobi Desert International - race report - 9bar fueled in training

I was invited, with other athletes from Great Britain, to go to the Gobi Desert 100km race. After speaking to the boss, my wife, I accepted the invite. I obtained the qualifying elite race standard so they paid for the flights, accommodation and food. 
When I arrived in Jiuquan, North West China, after four flights, it was apparent that the race organisers had spent a lot of money on the event because the Hotel was expensive, there was a posh News Conference and a filming crew. 
The days before the race I was nervous because I kept meeting the other invited international super ultra runners and felt I wouldn’t be able to compete against them but I surprised myself…
On the Race day I was up at 4:30am. It took me 20 mins to put my foot wear on! Compression socks, trainers and gaiters. There was a 45minute coach journey to start. At the start the filming crew there with big vehicles, cameras, two helicopters; I was getting nervous again. 
Then the race started with big flares. 
I was surprised at how dry everything was. I didn't feel damp with sweat because it would evaporate from my skin straight away. I followed the markers which were every 100m. The sand was easier in places to run on so I concentrated on finding the easiest sand to hit. I was in about 15th position for first 15k. I was drinking 1 litre of water every hour with an electrolyte (salts). Eating bananas, crackers, gels etc from the aid stations. The crackers were hard to swallow! At 20K there were large sand dunes to navigate. Some of then were easier to run around rather than overs. 
Miles of sand! At some points I could see the course stretch out for a long way ahead. Also, in places the sand was like ash, very powdery which puffed up when running on. I'm glad I had trainer gaiters on to keep the dust and sand out of my shoes. At about 85 k I started to cramp up and had to walk for a little bit. From 90k to the end it took every once of mental energy I had to finish. I knew I was in 7th position so that kept me going as I didn’t want to loose a place. 
At the end of the race I found out that a lot of people didn't finish because of the heat, it was hotter than forecasted. 
I finished 7th overall in a time of 9h30m. 
A documentary of the race from Chinese Company TV is linked here: 
Link (roll over me to see where I go)

A massive thank you to:
My wife for looking after the children;
Walter Hill for believing in me;
9bar for giving me loads of their bars to aid my training ;
Paul Fernandez and
Melissa Venables, for looking after me and being brilliant friends.

Results of top finishers:
1. Manuel Anguita Bayo. Spain 
2. Seiji Kobayashi. Japan 
3. Yoshihiko Ishikawa. Japan 
4. Georgio Calcaterra. Italy 
5. Ulf Patrick Verme. 
6. Zach Bitter. USA 
7. Daniel Weston. Great Britain 
8. ? 
9. Paul Fernandez. Great Britain 
10. Chinese? 
11. Valeria Sasto (women) 
12. Christopher Lux 10h14m
11. Ravis 10h 17min. 
12. Juan Garcia Spanish
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