Earlier start today at 6am, so wakey, wakey at 4am……I won the race to the dunny 🙂
Once everyone had recharged there phones and cameras, we were off for stage 2 over 36km. Like last year in the desert I ran without watch and phone and it was liberating
Today we were more aware of the heat but you can’t really prepare better – salt tablets and regular hydration is important.
The earlier start helped on the first 20km, which were along a long open stretched of road towards the jungle which is surrounding Preah Khan Temple in Vihear Province.
Cambodia is a country of 15 million people who are reminded daily about their horrible past because of over 6 million land-mines still littering the country side. Now we were told to never to leave the race track because of those mines but personally I have to say that the 25 million* dogs in this country (*personal estimation) seem far more dangerous than land mines. Not sure why they always barked at me and chased my through each village…..could it be the red shorts 🙂
The jungle section was difficult with wet and muddy section and many runners had some difficulty to find the right track and got lost (including me) along the last 10km section, kids love those orange ribbons which mark the course, eventually we all made it to the finish so just took a bit longer then expected
Our camp site in front of the impressive entry gate of these ancient temple ruins was impressive – after two nights sleeping in houses, this was our first night camping.
Everyone seemed to be a bit nervous about the coming day but a beer or two helped so we all enjoy a better night sleep under a brilliant night sky with fresh and cooler air.
66km done, 154km to go…..
Longest stage, 62km with first 30km through the stinking, humid, muddy, wet jungle followed by a mind-boggling 30km straight track on a dusty, sandy road towards the famous Beng Mealea Temple, which were used as the back-drop for the Indiana Jones movie.
Never been in the situation of having to start with the top runners but since I finished the last two stages in under 8 hours I was put in the leader group and as a result was forced to wait an extra hour at the start and missed out on an extra cooler hour starting only at 7am this morning.
Finally we were on our way and within two or three km I found myself first flat on my nose (third day usually are the hardest regardless of distance to be run, the body finally starts hurting and needs a rest) – so I knew I had to take it easier at beginning and soon I was at the end of this elite field with only 2 or 3 runners staying behind me. I was tired……
The first half pushed everyone hard and there was no point of trying to avoid wet shoes as the water holes and muddy section become deeper and larger.
Came across some pretty weird looking worms and insects in this section and was close to loose one shoe in the deep mud.
With only one goal in mind – getting out of here I pushed on and finally, having been on my own for hours, I cleared the woods and saw Check Point ahead of me – first chance to buy a cold coke after more then 4 hours of struggling.
What a relief to down a ice cold coke and I bought an extra ice cold water to simply use to cool down my body, which was in danger of overheating even before I started the longest straight section of this race. As some people took more time at the check-point and with half of the slow field already overtaken in the jungle, I started finding myself surrounded by the same faster runners as in the previous stages.
It was brutal – the sun was pounding down – 38 degrees, 95% humidity – so soon we all were in a state of hallucination – shuffle, walk, run, shuffle walk, run….since the road was straight and flat you could always see a few small figures in the distance and I was sure there were some weary eyes on me in the back as well. I made it a point to never look back and always power-walked hard and never stopped. My body temperature was close to boiling and I found myself soon sipping water only to spit it over my hot arms to cool them down.
My saviour came in form of an SUV and a camera – I suddenly saw KimSsan from The Foundation, standing along the side taking photos of me…..the only thing I could whisper was ‘cold water, cold water’ and he was off with the car and soon returned with a couple of ice cold water bottles, which went straight over my head and body – what a relief!
This gave me a second wind and soon I started catching Ashley, who was ahead of me all day – handing him a half full cold water bottle took him somehow by surprise and used the opportunity to overtake him, starting running towards the finish line – which still was a good 10km away.
Finally some shade for the last 3 km and with the sun slowly getting closer to the horizon,
I jogged crossing the finish after 9hrs 19min – defending my 10th overall position.
The camp site was at the outside of the temple in a jungle like surrounding, I was exhausted and had not even the strength to blow up my pillow or prepare some food….collapsing in my tent, I did not even realise all the ants getting in with me too, a mistake I paid for during the night getting stung all over my legs.
What a day!