Posted by: Richard Bray | October 5, 2010

Day 3 – Bring the Heat and a few dunes!!

After a better day yesterday we bunkered down in a very hot and windy campsite to get some rest. Unfortunately the wind was so strong it whipped up all the sand so it was hard to find a place to try to cool down. We finally got to sleep around 8pm. Not long after the final finishers turned up at camp. I have to commend the walkers. I struggle being out in the sun for that distance. Double the time and half  the recovery time for the walkers. They seriously are mentally strong. I don’t know what I would do without my afternoon noodles. They are a great pick me up. Much better than the freeze-dried food I have for a main meal. They are getting harder and harder to stomach.

Day 3 started at just after 4am. I woke spluttering sand. I was covered in it from the winds during the night.After a horrible breakfast of freeze-dried porridge and strawberries and my small cup of joe, I prepared my feet and packed up my backpack ready for another 6:30am  start. Today was to be one of the toughest days – 42km of soft sand and sand dunes. Mentally it was going to be a challenge.

I set off at an average pace as I wasn’t sure how the dunes and distance were going to affect me. I didn’t want to use up all my glycogen too early. The leaders set a cracking pace as they usually do… I can’t fathom how some of these guys do it. They are truly freaks!

By checkpoint 1 I was averaging a comfortable pace and I had a few pace setters ahead of me to base my time off. The sun quickly rose baking the earth and us too. I slowly but surely reeled in fellow competitors and felt stronger each time I did so. I rolled into checkpoint 2, grabbed some water and electrolytes and pushed on through. Head down, I pushed on through the dunes to the 3rd checkpoint which was a welcome relief. The energy levels were low but the spirits were high. I left feed and watered and ready for the heat. Again, the Sahara didn’t disappoint. The temperature quickly rose into the 40′s and out in the open, your core temperature quickly rises. By checkpoint 4 I was baking. Your heart is racing trying to keep your temperature down which makes it a challenge to move fast. Just walking raises your  heart rate to above 145bpm!! Try running in that heat and see what your heart rate gets up to.

At checkpoint 4 I knew I only had 9km to go. 9 very hot kms though. I threw back an ibuprofen plus, grabbed some water and put on my ipod. Anything to keep the spirits high. I set off down the dune to the desert floor – the hottest place ever imagined. Slowly but surely I plodded through the sand until I saw the welcoming site of the tents at basecamp. A tough day over and done with. I finished 17th today in a time of over 6:20hrs. That puts me in 19th position overall. A very tough day indeed.

2 more days to go. Including the long day which will be a true challenge. I’m pleased to be the first kiwi on the leader board. Especially considering two of my country folk (Lisa an Meagan) are renowned ultra racers who have done things like run the length of New Zealand or complete the Badwater ultramarathon in death valley. Both are older females with much more experience so I’m happy to be ahead of them. This could all change on the long day though!! It is certainly not over yet.

Thanks to all my family, friends and colleagues for your messages. It is the best pick me up at the end of a long hard day.

One final mention – my beautiful girlfriend Emma. Only 4 sleeps till I see you at the finish line. I can’t wait. Your smiling face in my thoughts have kept me going through the hard times. Thanks for all your love and support.

Bray’s top desert tip – 500 calorie instant noodles and salty pork scratchings are key to survival out here. Who would have thought I would be craving pig fat after a hard day in the sun! I wish I had a beer to wash it down though!!

My Dinner for the night…


  1. Hey..3 days done !! Our heart rate is right up there with yours just thinking of this .

    Pig Fat is good ! We used to snack on scratchings when we were kids….17th is unreal.

    Steak and Corona only 4 sleeps away. You can do it !

    R and B

  2. Hey Rich, awesome effort, keep it up! For interest, I’m feeling good having just won 2 Silver Medals in Commonwealth Fencing Champs (veterans), but it seems totally insignificant compared to the effort and outcome you are managing to achieve – it is SERIOUSLY impressive! Best of luck, keep it up!! Best wishes from Arthur and the whole Gatland Clan.

    • Hi Arthur. Thanks for the message. I really appreciate your kind words and support. It was one hell of a challenge and I’m happy the body held up to the test. Well done on your fencing medals. That’s really impressive. From windsurfing to Gliding to fencing… you truly are talented.

  3. Richy,

    Best wishes from sunny London. All of us here at RLUK are behind you 210%!!

    • Thanks Sean. Really appreciate your messages. It meant a lot to me on the hard days during the race. Your up next with your marathon. Best of luck… you’ll love it. Then you’ve crossed off one of your goals for the year.

  4. Hey Rich,

    You are doing an amazing job. I cant believe this event has finally arrived and your in the thick of it. Not long to go now, keep up the great work.

    Look forward to catching up when your back in town.


    • Thanks Mick. Appreciate the message. It was like a tough day at DOW that kept on going! Not sure what to do now it’s over. We’ll have to find some fun stuff around London to get involved in.

  5. Hi Superman (Rich)

    Wow, firstly my respect for you has grown immensely! (It was pretty high before the race!) You are doing phenomenally!
    I have been reading your blog daily and get more amazed each time.
    You have given me more inspiration. I go spinning every Tuesday and Thursday mornings and think of you crossing those sand dunes in that immense heat and think how easy I have it. It really has pushed me to go harder!
    Then last night when Lauren and I sat down to dinner, I won’t tell you what we ate, but trust me you really appreciate it when I hear what you are putting through your body every day.
    Amelie & Matilda are cheering you all the way!
    Mate keep going, stay focused and enjoy, (if you can)!
    I am sure you are getting 100’s of emails, hopefully this one will get through before you finish.
    Looking forward to buying you a few beers on your return!
    Keep flying the Kiwi Flag

    All the best from The Broughton’s
    XXX (kisses from my girls)

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