Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gobi March ! Stage 1

Charlie and I met up in Beijing at the airport just before our flights were to leave for Urumqi in Northern China to meet up with Kev and the whole RacingThePlanet crew.

We were totally stoked to be racing as a team together. The first time for all of us ! After gear checks at the hotel, we boarded buses for the race camp. Anticipating a fun race we were totally exicted to get started ! We met up with eveyone we were sharing our tent with and instantly liked everybody ! More about our tent companions later.

The Gobi March is a 250km, self-sufficient 6-stage race across the Gobi Desert in China. It is called the 'race of no return'- and it was a toughy !

RacingThePlanet races are always exceptional events, and we were not to be dissappointed wit this one. Course design was a perfect blend of mental and physical toughness and beauty. Mountains, sand dunes, valleys, villages. So much to see.
So much challenge too. 9 500 foot mountain passes, salt/mud flats, and even a major storm !

Stage 1:
Approx. 35 kms

Team ChungWha/Mago has left the start line ! After 200 meters or so we headed upo our first mountain pass. A small but steep scramble and then it was down to the salt flats. Basically an area stretching several kms of salt covered mud ! Charlie lost his shoes several times in the deep mud. He even sank at one point past his knees ! Several of the runners had a hard time keeping their shoes on, and ended up with muddy feet re-inserted into their socks and shoes. We got across and then it was into 'up and down' very steep rocky hills. Charlie was an animal in this stuff. He has so much experience in mountainous terrain. He kept Kev and I motivated and we moved together at a pretty good pace, just getting used to running together. It seemed right away like a great fit together.
Kev was chomping at the bit for some gravelly flats and I was pumped for some sand and dunes !
We would get all of the above in the coming stages !
We finished up the first day with muddy feet- and headed back to our tent to eat, sort our gear out and strategize for the next day. All of our tent mates made it in quickly. Pat, Howard, Becks, Thierry, Jack and Coolito 2 all joined us one after another and we crashed for the night.

Tomorrow stage 2...

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