Continent 3 – 250k Atacama Desert 250k – Daily Recaps

Continent 3 – 250k Atacama Desert 250k – Daily Recaps

Dear desert diary no. 3…

ha mmmm I have no idea how I thought that was so funny at race one… anyway I won’t be leading in with that anymore… way too cringe.

Well ten days in San Pedro flew by so quickly so I can imagine this week is going to go even faster. It’s nice to think I only need to amp myself up for essentially 5 big days so I am actually happy about the new layout of the race now (241k in 5 days) then a rest day and the final day.

So today began at 6am for me, I woke up at the hotel and was feeling pretty ehh so decided to jump into the pool outside my room to wakeup. All the volunteers were starting to flow into the hotel to get organised and I’ll paint the picture for you in regards to the weather… everyone had about 3 layers on haha yep it was prettttyyyyy chilly.

Tony the head of volunteers who has been at every race with me this year said he didn’t even need to look to see who the crazy person was swimming in the freezing pool haha he just knew it’d be me. My response to everyone’s comments was ‘wakey wakey’. I then packed my bags, went to breakfast, we had the briefing at 9am and then at 10am we had mandatory bag checks.

HAPPY DAYS!! My pack weight was only 7.5kg, this is a personal best for me! Haha lets just say I am glad it was the bag being weighed and not me haha… I have some burgers to run off this week! 😛
Ben, fellow aussie competitor and I then went into town to grab some pizzas for dinner at camp night 1 and at 230pm we were off. It was a 2 hour bus ride out to the camp and I was beside a 28 year old South African girl who I met last night, she is here with her mum. They are hilarious, they are doing the race together but are worried they will bicker and one of them will jet off so they have bought a rope to tie themselves together haha… they have given themselves 7metres in rope length. Can’t wait to see how this goes!

Camp is amazing the scenery is unreal, the biggest attraction is my shoes haha it is some light weight padded mat cut into the shape of my feet with some Velcro over the top haha they have been photographer about ten times already.

So it is 530pm here at camp 1 and it is nice and warm still but apparently the temp will drop to zero or more tonight.

Alright time to clock off, I am going for a walk with Alec to checkout the rainbow valley.. 1k walk.. better be amazing haha
Day 1 is just 36km’s through canyons I think and we kick off at 8am.
I am feeling really good and ready to go.
Thanks Fiona and Kim for the emails already I totally loved arriving at camp one to some messages.
Keep them coming Fiona haha.
My biggest worry is my lip is already slightly blistered… I will be overdosing on the zinc all week.

JB xx

(These shoes would belong to noone but yours truly)

DAY 1

1st in for the girls. Stoked!! Best result for me yet.
The day began at 5am with people beginning to wake up, I had already slept for 10 hours but was still a bit tired so I popped my ear plugs back in and dozed off till 7am… whoops as I then had only 1 hour to strap and tape my feet, repack my bag and get sorted for the day… it was a MAD RUSH… but wow I slept so well in the desert last night.

Before I fell asleep I was laughing for a good ten minutes at Ben, a 93kg guy made of just muscle, trying to fit into his sleeping bag and fit onto his sleeping mat bahaha too good. Then at 1am an Asian lady in our tent who speaks no English was cold and grabbed out her bivy bag haha (this is like a massive sheet of alfoil)… LOUD… yes haha my ear plugs blocked it out but not so much for ben and the other poor guys.

So got to the start line… and well poor Bens camel pack was broken and his whole bag leaked, he started the race about ten minutes after everyone. He didn’t stress too much though and by 20k in he had caught up to me, he did so well for his first day although his back is battling with his pack and he has some pretty brutal blisters happening.
I came through checkpoint 1 feeling good and then by checkpoint 2 I had to stop and fix my blisters, I was like yeppp time challenge this haha and was commentating my own blister situation haha, I got it done in about 2 minutes which was good because another lady caught me by checkpoint 2.
From there I was hurting pretty bad, the altitude was rough, I felt a bit nauseas I had no appetite which is totally unlike me!.. I ended up not eating for the entire 5 hours running. I was also coughing up a storm, I can’t stop coughing, I have a really rough deep cough happening. Every 15 minutes I’m having coughing fits, I sound like I’m going to bring up a kidney haha…everyone just keeps telling me to stop smoking haha.. clearly I’m not a smoker but my husky voice says otherwise…

The last 6k was a brutal gradual up hill climb, that hurt, I was wheezing so bad. All day I stuck with this guy Stan from France he is 30 and is fast, he was always 20m ahead but he kept waiting up for me and really helped me push myself. So that was great, I ran with Ben for about 10k but then he got some blisters and I was charging on cause was worried about getting caught by the 2nd lady haha, yep still competitive as ever.

Anyway other than that my plantar is okay – thanks for the 101 on strapping Bre, bit sore… few blisters nothing major. As you know I can talk under water with a mouthful of marbles, well today… silent… nothing… I was just in crush it mode and had no energy for banter haha but I am making up for my lack of speaking now that I am back at camp.

Finally
 had a little food and cleaned myself up, feeling pretty fresh… hung my clothes up. So the issue is that it’s like the hottest day I have ever experienced so there was no chance I was going to put my long tights on so everyone is having to cope with me walking around in my leopard print undies haha… a few people question it and I just respond with no pants no worries haha orrrrr if they continue on questioning it I just say honestly my care factor is zero right now… they get over it.


All in all today was brutal… it was no easy task. It was a real mental challenge – every few minutes my mind would be telling me to slow down, have a drink, walk for a bit, ouch this, that hurts but I just had to block it out and get it done.

So today was apparently the easiest.. tomorrow is similar distance by through a lot of water at the start. I am really hoping I didn’t go too hard today and wreck myself for the rest of the week but we will see. 4 big days to com!


Honestly loving it, being away at these runs I am in my element, absolutely back to basics, nothing to worry about and never any rush to be anywhere or doing anything. Couldn’t be happier with how today went!

Off to have a nap and stretch, it is just 4pm here… I can’t wait to sleep as early as I can as soon as the sun goes down. Dinner tonight is my expedition foods with some instant mash potato anddddd just for you Brileee some parmesan cheese haha what a treat – this meal will be about 650cals – taking my daily total to about 2050 cals today and my watch right now says I habe churned through 5150cals…big day.
Just hanging out to see the South African mum and daughter combo with the rope come haha keen to see if they are tied together or if things went smooth sailing.

Thanks Tate, Laura, Assaf and Karin for the messages! 😀


Jb xx



DAY 2

The Atacama Desert Churned Me Up

Well today it felt like the Atacama Desert churned me up for the last 2 hours and spat me out at the finish line haha!

Came in 4th female today, there was just 20minutes between the first girl and me so it is super tight.
I think overall I will be dropped down to 3rd now by a few minutes.
Then as soon as we crossed the line today the top 5 girls and guys had mandatory bag checks… SURPRISE.. not sure my time penalty for not bringing my rain jacket yet… brought a thermal shirt instead because c’monnnn as if it rains in Chile haha!
Some of the top guys were missing SOOO much gear so we will see the consequences soon. Eeek, I hope it isn’t too bad or it might affect my spot a bit.

So today began well, the first 20km’s I was out front and then for the next 10km’s I was a close second.. I was really happy with this. The second section was the slot canyons which was about 23 river crossings which was my favourite part, I loved it… it was so refreshing and some parts were almost waist deep. I ran with a guy Daniel through this part because he was a beast so I thought I will stick with him.
Then we had heaps of really cool sections today – across MASSIVE dunes, through long dark tunnels in the hills and finished with some not so fun stuff haha..

For the last 2 hours… I was just staring ahead into the never ending soft sand just trying to make it to each pink flag 25m apart. This is where I lost a bit of ground.
So for the last section my run had now turned into a very slow shuffle, it was a real grind. I was legit hallucinating conversations with people in my head haha it is SOOOO hot here the sun is not forgiving at all. I am running almost the whole race with my hat, sunnies and buff covering my mouth and nose plus zinc.

Early into the race I cut up all of my leg so it was bleeding pretty bad but lucky the cold water had set the blood all down my leg….ewwww. My pack which is about 10kg when water is added to it is now making my lower back ache pretty bad, I have to hold my hands under my lower back while running sometimes to relieve it…boohoo haha eveyrone is in the same boat ha so it is fine but my gosh the pain endured day in day out here is well… pretty horrendous.. I won’t sugar coat it haha.
3km’s before the finish Dan (who I ran through the slot canyons) caught up to me and was battling bad so I gave him one of my hiking poles and we trudged into the finish together, such a sweet guy he held my hand over the finish and gave me a big hug.

Good news is I haven’t cried yet haha, I’m getting so tough.. or I must be saving up all the tears for the next 3 days haha. One big issue I am yet to figure out, is why I am feeling so nauseas during the race. The day was just over 6 hours in total and I couldn’t stomach anything so you can imagine the last 11.2km’s I was fading BAD! My race nutrition is killing me right now.

Anyway at camp now and it is 5pm, and we are all hanging out, lots of people are still coming in, they have been out there 9 hours now… brutal.
Ben and I were chatting about music as he hasn’t listened to any yet and I was saying I had Enya.. hahah yes Enya blaring for the last section and he said I’m a weirdo for listening to that haha and I said ohhh Ben we are way past weird… there is over 100 people here paying money to endure ridiculous pain running across one of the harshest deserts in the world haha not sure what is more bizzare than that haha. Poor Ben is battling bad with his blisters on his feet, his shoes are too small so his feet are torn up real bad.

So stats for the day:
I have done 58,000 steps
Covered 48.2km’s
Burnt over 5000cals

big day and tomorrow is bigger and harder again.
So just going to pace myself the next 2 days so I am able to cope with the 80km day on day 5…I don’t even want to think about it… one checkpoint at a time.

Anyway off to put my feet up.
Thanks for the emails everyone. Haha special mention to Dr Julie’s mum – Jane loved your message and yes I was on the bus out here with your granddaughter, she is my favourite volunteer haha don’t tell the others I said that… we may of slightly corrupted her with some of our conversations. I have been in the medical tent everyday pestering Dr Julie… she loves it haha.
Thanks Ally for your email haha I laughed a lot and may of told half the camp about that one haha..
Thanks Karen, miss having you here – the mash potato last night was a real winner!!
Fiona myself and a few other competitors are struggling… we came up with idle.ideal… island..but we don’t know.
Everyone else thanks so much, Sam, Kayla, Aimee, Yousef… think I missed some people but I read them all 💙
Jb xx



DAY 3


Argh well things don’t always go as planned... and yep today didnt…

I know alot of you reading this may be thinking oh go sit with some of the rocks in the desert and harden the eff up haha but yeah a bit of self pitty party makes me feel a little better haha.
Today was such diverse terrain, it began with the broccoli type ground which was brutal on the footing, followed by section 2 of just long, long road. Ben and I ran from this section together for about 15k which was good.
He cut the fronts of his shoes out to allow for more room and he smashed it today, he finished about 30min ahead of me. So until about 20k in I was placed 3rd for girls and running really strong. But then the next section got the better of me, I was able to eat today so my energy levels were good but the crazy rocks, sand, salt flats etc flared up my plantar fascia really badly. I added in a 3rd heel lift into my right shoe to try and elevate it but it didn’t really help. I was then compensating by putting a lot of my weight into my left foot so it is now full of blisters.
It is a bit annoying cause its out of my control but these things happen.

I stopped at the last checkpoint and the doctor helped to drain the blister… this is when my first tears of the event occurred, haha not too many though.. I was sort of crying whilst smiling… the Dr. then restrapped them for me before I crawled through 5k of sand dunes to the camp… I may of gone slightly off course in this section but it meant I ended up having to jump a barbwire fence and get through a river crossing haha… classic me… navigational skills of bloody Dory off Finding Nemo ha.
One of the sand dunes in the last section was so high and vertical that my poles (walking sticks) didn’t even help haha I had to crawl on my hands and knees… after 6 hours out there I was pretty cooked.. haha not sure why I thought swearing at the sand dune was going to help me haha but I let loose anyway.

Well I have dropped back a few spots… not exactly how far as it was pretty neck and neck with 5 of us. Seems like everyone else is getting faster and stronger and I am going the other way ha… lets hope I pull out a miracle day 4 and 5!
Scary to think we have done 110k in the past 3 days but we have 130k to cover in the next 2 days… eek.

Thanks for all the messages and blog comments, I am dreaming of jumping into that swimming pool in San Pedro on Saturday… that couldn’t come fast enough haha.

JB xx

Fiona, we say 9 for the next answer 🙂 ha.
The next 2 days are massive so assume we wont be in any head space to think of answers ha.




DAY 4

Oh my gosh, favourite day, ever – the absolute highlight of the race today…just under 50k today and 5k from the finish the video and photo guys were all swimming in a big lagoon… they had tried to convince a bunch of other runners to jump in but after running almost 45k and still 5k to go it was no dice.. haha well no one had to convince me (pictures to follow)…Alec was mid sentence asking me and I was already half undressed and launching into the water haha.
DAY MADE! – The guys got some footage of it!..it was freezing cold water so it was amazingly refreshing, especially after feeling so grotty from a week of sweating.. I then got out and had muddy, blistered, strapped feet which I just whipped my socks over and finished off the long last 5k.

Today was good, thank gosh…I needed a nice day today after it being such a hard week.
This morning I awoke on the wrong side of the bed, my gosh I wouldn’t of wanted to be in my line of firing this morning haha. I slept poorly because a guy in our tent was snoring, I gave him a serving.. poor guy (I apologised this afternoon), but it was pretty bad haha everyone in our tent was raging at him.
So breakfast today I woke up at 5am because wood was being chopped hah.
Don’t know why they had to so it so early…
I sat by the fire and ate my plain oats and was crying (there’s the tears) haha I just couldn’t fathom doing today, I was in so much pain from my feet I couldn’t handle putting socks and shoes on.
It was a rough morning, I then almost went to turn my phone onto roaming to try and call home but I resisted.

I was really happy with how today went, it was a brutal day, very hot sun, lots of sand dunes, rocks, salt flats, long tedious roads but I got it done. I spent a fair bit of time with Ben, it was good to have some company. Today I didn’t listen to any music at all and I am much preferring no music.
I came in 6th for the girls today and only had one person pass me due to the swim in the lagoon haha… totally worth it.
It is pretty close with all the women so tomorrow will be the real decider.. I will have to have a miracle to come out with a top 4/5 spot… we will see.
Honestly, I couldn’t of done any better with the past 4 days though, I have given it my all so I am just going to do my best to enjoy the 80k day tomorrow.

Thanks for all the messages everyone, really appreciate it

JB xx

(True to form, as promised)
 
 


DAY 5

The Long March

80km – DONE!!  
Woohooo…I am pretty much there, 12.9k to go and the next time I am running an ultra-marathon it will be in Antarctica 😲

Bit sad that on Day 4 there was 2 of the other grand slammers who had to pull out, my tent buddy Sam rolled his ankle…possible break and Scotty hurt his hip really badly… I guess 750k of racing can take its toll, especially in the Atacama.

So the long day… it was epic, I really found my stride again on Day 4 and 5 and felt super positive and really enjoyed myself. It is true that consistency is key with these stage events because yesterday there were a few big changes with placings.

Started the day out pretty strong, the first leg was 14.9k so it was a long slog of watery sloggy mush and then salt flat… ooffft what a way to start the long day haha.
2nd and 3rd leg were a little better and I tried to keep at a strong pace…I was sitting comfortably 3rd spot for the girls and felt strong, I was once again not listening to any music.
It was 20k in that I ran past Denise the strongest female here, she was in a bad way unable to eat or drink anything, it was VERY VERY HOT.
I kept going and then another lady passed me, Victoria so I was now in 3rd.
We then had a huge climb up a sand dune where Szilvia the spartathlon lady passed me so I was now in 4th spot, but after this huge dune the best thing was we got a can of coke at the midway stop… a tad warm but hey it was still a dream haha.
40k down … 40k to go… my gosh OUCH… tried to just think of it as one checkpoint at a time.
Ashacama Haha … Ash my tent buddy and good friend who has now done 10 of these events kicked my butt into gear for the next 25k… We would run 5 flags and walk 1.
I only ate snacks throughout the day… I couldn’t handle a hot meal so I had a cliff bar, gu chews, a carmens bar, chips, a gel and some lollies…. Not a whole heap for a 13.5 hour day haha.
At 55k I stopped and double socked because my feet were in agony from the battering they have been taking over the different terrain. I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it though.
I was waiting and waiting for Hannah the 2nd runner overall to pass me but I didn’t see her all day, like Denise, the poor girl didn’t react well to the savage conditions and she had a day like I did in Namibia long march and didn’t get in until 2am.
I went out for the day just wanting to try and win my age group but knew it’d be super tough as there are some other strong young girl runners and I only had a half hour lead on it, so all day I was pushing on hard as I needed a goal for the day to keep moving.

Anyway back to the day…
15k to go and I was walking it in with Leon and Greg (Greg usually top 5-10) hurt his hip and Leon is a speed walker. I couldn’t get amped to run the last 15k…it was such a nice night and I was just enjoying Valle de Luna and the company of the boys for a while.
The last 10k I got some music happening and tried to jog and walk again.
I got in at 9:45pm, just over 13.5 hours, I was stoked. There were no tears and I had so much fun!
I came in 4th for the ladies, just 20 minutes behind the 3rd lady.
Results are in for the overall week and I am sitting in 4th spot behind the 3rd lady by just 26 minutes. I am only 1 minute ahead of the 5th lady so I better jet the last 12.9k haha!
Ben had a cracking day and arrived in at 8pm, he smashed it!
Overall he is 22 and I am 27…. I keep saying go the Aussie but he keeps reminding me he is Kiwi, woops.

Last night arriving in was the best feeling, Ben, Ash and I were the only ones in our tent as our 3 tent mates didn’t make it in till 6am… Big night for them. So Ash, Ben and I had an awesome sleep… no snorers’ haha. I feel fresh as a daisy this morning and everyone is commenting on how clean I look haha I always respond, I told you I am the cleanest person at camp ha… anyway just relaxing today, not feeling like eating because all my food… Oats and dry food is not appetising at all.

Tonight we have some local music performance I think. Then tomorrow at the finish line where we will be greeted by pizza and I will by running straight to the hotel swimming pool for a few hours before we have our awards night tomorrow night.
Then Ben, Alec and I head to Valparaiso in Santiago early Sunday to be by the beach for 3 days for some RNR before heading home, I cannot wait.

This will be my last blog for the event.
Thanks so much everyone for all the emails and blog comments, they have been so awesome to read at the end of the day and a lot of them have made me laugh a lot when I really needed it.

JB xx


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