Posted by: Richard Bray | October 3, 2010

Day 1 – Welcome to the Sauna

I’m going to skip through the pre race checks and briefings. All that i took from them was to drink heaps, watch your electrolytes and good luck in the heat. Man were they right!

We caught a bus out to the first camp and what an eventful trip. Psycho drivers, open coffin caskets in station wagons and even a lady pushing a wheel chair in the middle of a highway!! We finally arrived at camp which was a welcome relief. The exact location of the camp – middle of nowhere! Sand everywhere and a dodgy lake that no-one wanted to think about entering. We scoffed down our  nights food (a takeaway pizza from the hotel for me – great last minute treat) and then sat around the camp fire trying to settle the nerves. We hit our tents around 8pm where we tried to get sleep whilst a storm was going on outside our tent. To ensure we didn’t cook, we kept the door open which meant we were covered in sand this morning.

We woke at just after 5 to prepare for a 7am start. Scoffing down breakfast calories and preparing the feet for what’s to come. Gladly the heat was not on us yet!

Just before 7am we lined up full of beans and anxious of what was to come. Everyone was suggesting to take the first day very easy as you need to save energy for the later days – esp the long day. I set out at a reasonable running pace and found myself next to a fellow kiwi – Lisa. We hammered our way through the sand to checkpoint 1 where I found myself in 30ish place. I stopped to attend to a blister hot spot that was developing and let a few others through. My fellow tent mates had shot out fast and were now way ahead. I had to use my will power to hold myself back.

I set out  on my own and tried to efficiently get through the sand watching my pace all the time. I quickly hit the 2nd checkpoint and was greeted by a large kiwi volunteer who helped me top up the bottles and pushed me out the door. 20km done and now the sun was starting to bite… to go fast or to hold back… i had no idea what to do. I stayed to my strategy and pushed through to checkpoint 3. Now it was getting hot. Very hot. I camped out at checkpoint 3 for 5mins to catch my breathe and refuel. It was a welcome break. With just over 7km to the finish line… I set off  again. We were nearing  the middle of the day and the sun was baking. I pushed on. My legs were starting to suffer and my energy was being drained by the heat. I started to ask a few questions at this point!! I closed in on a welsh man not too far from the finish. He informed me his watch was telling him it was 45deg! Damn – no wonder I was suffering. We finished together and man was it great to be greeted by drums and 3 bottles of water!

I came in just under 6 hours for the first day and in approx 33 position. My tent mates finished over an hour ahead of me so I’m still debating tomorrows strategy. The long day is yet to come… To save energy or run it out and get in before the heat. You will all find out tomorrow.


  1. What a day ! We think your strategy is spoton !! Long way to go and lots of energy reqd each day……Well done Richard…watch that blister ..

    R and BX

  2. Richy,

    Great first day! Stick to your guns and strategy. Still long way to go, so remember to save your energy.


  3. Wow the heat sounds like it really saps you . What an amazing first day !

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