DID YOU KNOW? Over 130,000 Australians have Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common chronic disease in children, and is more common than cancer and cystic fibrosis.
DID YOU KNOW? People with Type 1 diabetes face many serious long term health complications.
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong incurable disease, and without daily insulin injections people with Type 1 diabetes would die.
DID YOU KNOW? The cost to Australia of Type 1 diabetes is estimated to be $600m per annum.
DID YOU KNOW? Over 275 people a day are newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
DID YOU KNOW? Nearly 1 million Australians have Type 2 diabetes.
DID YOU KNOW? The cost to Australia of diabetes is nearly $7billion per annum.
DID YOU KNOW? Over 60% of people with Type 2 diabetes can overcome it with fitness and healthy lifestyle.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
MINDBLASTED AMAZEMENT!!! How do I describe our time in Antarctica so far? Uploading to internet from here is a bit of an issue but as soon as we're back in Argentina I have some great photos of the team, killer whales, other competitors, 2200 metre high snow and ice mountains, meshed layers of low-lying cloud almost touching our heads as we run, and closeups of Jess' first penguin encounter, plus - of course - penguins themselves.

All our gear is working well. First day we ran 13 hours, yesterday was about 9 hours with a rest and sightseeing day in between. Doing this final desert with such brilliantly unique surrounds, awesome crew and organisation, and friends we have made throughout the year is a truly original experience.

The expedition leader is a hardy Scotsman called Kelvin who wears shorts in the face of everything except blizzards. Picture Gerard Butler with giant, hardcore, expedition-leading, mountaineering, orca-punching 25-kg adventure balls, rather than teeny-tiny, designer-label-promoting, actor balls.

Coming back on the rubber duckies yesterday with frozen figures after a day of rolling around a 3-km loop course, one side in sun, the other in Mordor-esque metallic grey, there was near calamity. Our boat-driver unloaded one of the ten runners back on to the main ship, the Plancius, then in a thick Russian pirate commander accent barked 'Abort operation, abort operation!'. Naturally, we thought 'Wuh?!?'.

Just 8 metres away, a lone Zodiac pilot was butting the front of his boat against an iceberg, trying to push it away from the ship. They don't threaten the ship itself, but when its anchor is dropped, they can push the ship, drag the anchor, and damage the ocean floor. Our rubber duckie pulled up alongside and began pushing with its bow too. But suddenly, the Zodiac driver in the first boat revved his motor too hard, his prow accelerated up on to the berg itself and his boat sheared off to the left, tipping sideways at a 30-degree angle. Holding on to nothing other than the motor handle, he was banking sharply backward through space like a sailboarder, precariously hanging over the frozen waters for a breath-holding moment, before miraculously regaining the horizontal plane as he shot toward the open harbour we were skirting.

The line between comfort and cataclysm here is pencil-thin. On the first day, we added one final taste of the 7km out-and-back section of a 13km figure-8 course. heading out with our backs to the high-hanging sun, the day was not much cooler than it had been since 9am. But as we turned to head back, just before 9pm, it was clear that the game had changed. Menacing clouds had risen from nowhere to block the sinking sun. Wind intensity doubled and the temperature felt like it had dropped by 5-10 degrees in a matter of minutes. Fingers numbed and concern grew as some team members dropped behind, seemingly slowed by the cold, rather than accelerating as a means of diminishing its effects.

The support crew and expedition operators who waited for us, the last runners on the course, were awesome. They had us off the shore and on Zodiacs headed back to the Plancius within about 3 minutes of hitting the theoretical finish line. There was no doubt that even the experienced polar crew were wary of the sharp change in climate.

Running this afternoon, sleeping on the ice tonight, and hopefully a big final day of racing tomorrow.

Time and climate will tell.....

PS Our Mafate 2 are keeping our feet well-insulated from the frozen ground and long running. The hair-dryer wax treatment I applied before leaving Argentina seems to have worked really well for the waterproofing we needed too.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Ooooh, controversy! The presentation, 'Ice Maidens: Women in Antarctica', just started with James Brown 'Man's World' blaring over the ship's speakers. We've just had lunch after an amazing presentation by Henryk on Shackleton's heroic but ultimately misdirected adventure that began aboard the appropriately named Endurance.

Why are we inside for presentations instead of outside running? Right now the ship's deck is covered in snow, even though the wind has now dropped to a gentle 30 knots or so. The weather isn't so much a threat to runners, as we have a vast array of weather-safe running gear. But at a certain stage, generally around 45 knot winds, the Zodiacs can't operate safely and that means, problematically, no return trip.

The past 24 hours has been remarkable. Yesterday afternoon we had a short run on a short loop, but within a 1.2km circuit our comedic course planners managed to find about 140 metres of elevation gain, bordered on 2 sides by risky overhangs, facing the result of two massive snow shears and overlooking a vast, black mirror of near-frozen ocean harbour bound by 5-storey thick walls of prehistoric snow. The team made a reasonable number of short loops in two hours, but capturing footage for the video record of the Grand Slam was the priority.
We ended the day by returning to the shoreline and sleeping there last night, in bivy bags (waterproof, technical versions of the classic Australian swag) on the shore of the Antarctic mainland, metres from chortling penguin colonies under softly falling snowflakes. Unforgettable, and quite possibly our last underfoot experience if this weather holds.

The captain and expedition leader are pursuing alternative locations with hope for activities on shore somewhere to go ahead, but the runners all seem in a chirpy almost-celebratory damn-near post-finish-line mood. On the one hand, it would be great to have more off-boat experiences in this place of persistent beauty, and of course Jess wants a 13-hour run : )

On the other hand, Born to Run's Ron Schwebel is down with what may be a bacterial infection or some nasty virus. He might be Born to Run but right now he Needs to Rest. How the next 15 hours will unfold is, as seems a matter of course down here, uncertain and largely beyond anyone's control. Will this effect his Coast2Kosci start next Friday? No idea, but right now 'contagious' is a very dirty word.

Once again, we experienced penguins up close yesterday. While they wandered around us and through our groups, or scudded underwater like ultrasonic torpedoes, 'testosterone problems' - namely, an excess - saw a number of runners and race directors almost-nude up and take a 'polar plunge'. With water at roughly zero degrees, they're still looking pretty refreshed today.

Hopefully pictures will tell a better story when we have the bandwidth to post them, atwww.facebook.com/hokaoneoneaustralia or www.facebook.com/teamborntorun or on my own fb or my blog at www.runeatsleeprun.com. The singular primitive and elemental purity of this forgotten world has touched everyone here, resulting in either bliss or suffrage. There's no effective means other than a Vulcan mind-meld to convey the bond we now share with many of the people here with whom we have run and adventured this year.

And no representations can really express the heart-bursting wonder that surrounds us. Only a visit to Antarctica can likely explain a visit to Antarctica.

Not quite the desert experience we're used to. (Roger Hanney)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s been a star-studded trip so far on board the Plancius, headed for Antarctica. Yesterday, Day 2, we met Liz Hurley, Russell Throw, Barf Simpson, Heave McQueen, and even still-motion all-stars Wallace & Vomit. My all-natural approach to zenning seasickness away without help from stuck-behind-the-ear scopolamine patches lasted until about 10am, by which point the alternating view of big sky and big swells had done its work as I hopped off the icebreaking boat and boarded the porcelain bus.

Everything’s hunky-dorie now though. We’ve had the talk about how to board the rubber-duckies for our first trip ashore. We’ve vacuumed our bags, clothes and shoes for stray invasive seeds and dirt contaminants, the first day’s racing over 14 hours ona 13km figure-8 looped circuit on King George’s Island has been fully explained, gear lists for carrying and stashing have been circulated and WE JUST CAN’T WAIT!!!!

This trip is just dreamtastic. It seems like every couple on the boat has been housed in a spacious and fully-appointed suite. WIN! While our teammates have been sent back to school camp. HA! : ) Sorry guys!

It’s such a reunion with some our favourite new friends from throughout the year. Whatever their first language is, we all understand the excitement of the unknown evident in everyone’s face. Alina and Alistair (Mary’s man) are missing but otherwise the core team of Riitta, Sam, and Mary from RTP are here which is also very cool. Hiro’ from Japan is missing, so too Japanese Spiderman but he’s here on my t-shirt. Also great to meet new faces like Wendy & Gary with their own amazing stories of endurance to share.

Whales were sighted yesterday, so too dolphins. Various Antarctic birds have been circling and racing the ship since yesterday. They feel a bit like a welcoming committee. Oh yeah, and Joel – where are you dude?

The next 14 hours might pass slowly as we wait to head ashore for a 14-hour run, weather-permitting. Or it might all go superfast, as we hope that our level of preparedness will match the brand new challenge before us. I also hope our ski-waxed Mafate 2s will keep the water and frost out. Nothing fun about wet, cold toes in alpine conditions.

There wasn’t much shooting done in the few days we had at Ushuaia. James (cameraman) had big plans for each day but ultimately only got a bit of filming done. I’m about to go out on deck n swirling blusters of shortlived snow to chat with him about what an incredible year this has been for Team Born to Run (www.borntorun.com.au) and especially what it says about living with type 1 diabetes that I’m here with my running mates ready to bag the Grand Slam in one corner of the harshest and most unforgiving and rarely-encountered wild environments on Earth.

Now it’s all dreams and expectation. In 28 hours it will be substantial and real. Nothing’s done until it’s done and so it’s too soon to say how we’re going to cope this time, but let’s just say that tomorrow we run with penguins. BRING IT ON!!! WOOT!!!!!!!

Iceberg Style.

Ah, Relief -Roger

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Thanks Cipro!!! You, sir, are a kickass antibiotic. After non-stop nausea and daily double digit pit squats since day 1, day 6 I woke for the first time feeling not completely squalid. Kind of funny that we ran 220km in the meantime. Jill & Beat, I now have some clue how rat's-ass-low you guys must have felt running off food poisoning in Nepal. Blechh.

Matty & I had seesawing fortunes over the past couple of days, with yesterday's 73km run incorporating the full spectrum from runnable to nearly hurling for both of us. The previous day - Day 4 - began with a near ultimate scenic highlight of the entire trek when we dropped our packs to run up to Heaven's Gate, Shipton's Arch. At close to 3,000 metres altitude, this stunning natural archway frames a breathtaking desert mountainscape. Reaching it provided us the first real adrenal hit of the week too - a welcome and elusive rush.

The running after this was restricted by our states of health but the terrain was also the most satisfying and welcome of the week.

The quote from Sam, one of the key race directors at RTP, to best describe it was "if you fall, you will get hurt".

Picture running along the teeth of a saw, only they're not metal, they're jagged slopes of lightly sprouted dirt and rock, with ridgelines one to two feet wide plunging into sheer slopes that even goat tracks baulk at. Roughly 10 kilometres of this led us ever deeper into an astounding landscape ringed on one front by towering rocky dirt faces of brown, red, and ochre, while a new horizon dominated by snowcapped giants grew ever broader.

It was an amazing day, to be sure. Even if it ended with us running along a freeway construction zone, drowned in the diesel and dust of heavy earthmovers as we trundled along to a makeshift carpark where the shuttlebus pulled away just as we arrived, leaving us to wait an hour next to stacked cement beams and bulldozers.

Gobi, land of contrast.

Ah, the long day - Day 5. I felt shattered by the start. I could explain but my bowels have featured fully enough on this site already. Funnily enough, perfect blood sugars all week on course and off. Diabetes has played second fiddle to other things starting with di-, and all things considered there are certainly worse chronic health conditions to deal with.

The course was quite easy after some early pitches and rolls, the literally slippery slopes. Terrain ranged from sandy and flat to rocky, and flat. Matt started feeling 8 out of 10, Jess an ever-constant 10, while i was hovering around a 3. Playing 'slowest guy out front' it soon turned out I wasn't actually slowest guy. It was great though to catch up with our friend Hiro early in the day as we had hardly run together at all the entire week. He had a real spring in his step and went on to come 11th on the day's course. Soon enough, cameraman James hijacked me and then Jess as she came running through to build more shots for his documentary of our week.

He's been a welcome friend on course since Day 1 - bringing updates on other runners and race news, ideas varying between great and ridiculous about footage he's wanting us to help him get, or suggestions which we frequently decline less than politely without him ever seeming to get too flustered.

New on-course games that passed the time were Significant Moments In History, where a moment had to be guessed at without having been directly referred to or the country of origin being named. E.g. 'a wall falls down, everyone has a party' for the fall of the Berlin Wall, or '2 feet to the left would have got his wife, everyone would have been much happier' for the assassination of John Lennon. Jess didn't get that one, and a South African friend answered with 'JFK' - the first bonus points of the day for creative upgrades.

The next game, 'All of It', later expanded to 'All of It/Them/Those' got a bit too complicated to explain, and not a single answer was politically correct enough to be included as an example.

The other highlight of the day, other than sweeping all-encompassing mountainous desert immersion of course, was Matt's ultra-toughness. It's easy to forget he's only really found himself thrown headlong into endurance running this year. Yesterday, as the day wore on, he knew it would all come down to his performance. In weather conditions that ranged from thunderous sandstorm to cool and mild, he plugged away until the job was done. Running when he could and walking as steadily as he could manage when he had to, he got the team home in just over 12 hours. We started the day expecting to come in under torch power so it was a far less painful result than expected when we strolled across the Finish line as the last direct sunlight of the day dropped behind a faroff summit.

Hot recovery formula, long-awaited vegie lasagne, restless legs, and a deep sleep untainted by anticipation of a visit to the blog tent.

Are we there yet? -Roger

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today was brilliant . A stunningly fast run in remote and super-scenic wilderness, untouched by modern construction, diarrhea, the same police vehicle that has been following the racers for the last 3 days or Matt’s newly exploding fever. Oh no, wait – that’s all wrong.

Today was an evil war of attrition that begin with a 6 am pit-side chat, with Matt softly stating that he didn’t know if he could do it today. While I no longer expect to die, Jess gets Kitty and the car if I do. Meanwhile, Matt’s digestive dramas are now accompanied by fever while mine has receded. If Matt hadn’t been the slowest member of the team today, I’d have probably taken the wooden spoon. But there was really no time focus today, other than to get into camp in one piece (or 5 pieces) before the final cutoff at 5pm (later moved to 5:30).

Matty’s focus became the question of ‘how far?’, not to the end but to the next checkpoint. Team came to the fore again and everybody did what they could to help him get through, but I think he knew and accepted that his own resolve would determine his own outcome. Jess murmured to me that there is so much resting on his shoulders right now and she’s totally right. Thinking in terms of a relatively inexperienced and young runner thrown in at the deep end, he has enough on his plate already. Add to that the question of the team’s grand slam, the promotion of the Born To Run Foundation, and his father Greg’s overall vision and the way that the next 12 months fits into that, and he’s carrying far more than a 10 kilo pack and a stomach flu.

In lighter news, we hate hiking. Seriously, planning to cover 40km as slowly as possible and draw out as much suffering and fatigue as possible from passing trucks, desert dust, the heat of the day, and a heavy backpack is no way to spend your time. There are certainly some things to dislike about running fully laden but it beats walking all to hell. As much as we all have a newfound respect for the brave and determined citizens of the back of the running pack, we are even more incredulous that anybody would travel at 4km/h on foot by choice.

We totally support Japanese Spiderman’s choice to do so, however, because he is an underground wrestler carrying 19kg of food and running the entire 250km in a Spiderman outfit and wrestling mask. Do all those things at altitude in the Gobi Desert and you can do whatever you like.

Stage 1 & 2 -Roger

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

when daily marathons become hard to stomach (or give you the sh*ts)

Well, what to say? It's the end of Day 2 in Gobi. We have already experienced massive highs and potentially worsening lows. Team Born to Run is bruised and depleted, and we have 2 40km and a 75km day to go in oppressive heat and dust.

Highlights have been a moving welcome from Kyrg and Uighur villagers who lined our entry to Camp 1 in all manner of clothing, from traditional pointed white felt hats, fancy sequined head dress, and shiny 1980s suits reminiscent of stockbrokers. It was emotional in that we hardly deserved such a show of warmth, just for turning up to run. And because this is a country where not everything is as it seems, and there is always a question in the back of my mind, 'did they choose to be here?'. Military and police looking on seemed to also enjoy the show, which ranged from mimed karaoke and Bollywood to traditional folk accordion.

This was followed by a game called 'Urr ah tatch o-lak'. That spelling is entirely phonetic and loosely translates as 'grab the goat'. Players on horseback charge into and around each other, wrestling a decapitated goat's carcass from each other at high speeds, with the goal of making a break and throwing it down in a small ring of stones on the field of play. Gambling on each score upped the stakes.

But to the running, yesterday - Day 1 - started with a personal catastrophe. Some kind of stomach bug had begun to ravage my guts and in the 2 hours before we toed the starting line I'd already found myself squatting over the toilet pit 3 times. Above, clear skies. But below, liquid thunder. Teammate Matt seemed to be experiencing a similar thing but with more nausea and less of the Squirt McGurts. Either way, by the final 10km we were both sapped, reduced to an alternating shuffle/walk even on flat road. As hard as this is for us, it's no fun for the team either. Ron seems happy enough to cruise and chat about Garmins and the weight of things, while Greg is clearly benefiting from his training load since Atacama and happy not to be the one running at his limits. But Jess is in the quiet hell of watching runners that she normally wouldn't even see in a race until they finished well after her take off over the horizon. The teams component of Racing The Planet is small, but cruel.

Things took a stellar turn for the better as we reached the Uighur village where we'd be staying for the night. A little boy on a collapsible bicycle met us on the dirt road outside of town. 'A-salam-u-lakem,' I waved. 'A-lakem-u-salam' he smiled back, also waving.

I was trawling along behind the team, maybe 20 or 30 metres back. Next thing I know, this sweet-faced kid on a bike with big Suzuki stickers is virtually pacing me. As if this wasn't enough of a boost for flagging spirits, dogged by widespread abdominal pain and a white hot ball of pain and nausea centred on my stomach, he then started to sing as he rode along, local songs in perfect pitch without the slightest self-consciousness. He even hinted at taking one of the course markers, perhaps to help shake off our competitors. Laughing I motioned not to.

As we rolled and shuffled into town, we were joined first by one, then three then finally over a dozen kids all running along with us. Jess laughed and encouraged and cheered them in shortened Chinese as they ran amongst us, but it seems that this cultural pocket is yet to be pierced by the overwhelming weight that grows beyond its dirt walls. Uighur still seems to be their one and only language, and that is a beautiful thing.

The following 10 visits to squat over the traditional pit, further dehydrating with each one, were overseen by the very talkative cows in the adjoining stables.

Matt's nausea became an issue for him last night too as he attempted and failed to fully eat, but more significantly his patellar tendon has flared up again. Just 3 weeks after his first solo trail 100km at The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains his body is paying the price for brave inexperience. Ron, Jess and I, while we all had mixed fortunes at the race itself, have enough long run conditioning built up to bounce back from running 100km within a few weeks, more or less. Matt will too, soon enough. But, apparently, not yet.

Today was rough - really rough. Yesterday we knocked over 32km in just over 4 hours. Today 40km took 6 1/2, and it hurt. Last night, all I managed to eat was a cup-a-soup and some Sustagen, followed by about 2 or 3 litres of hydralite, and 4 barely tolerated spoonfuls of rice. Breakfast was a scoop of peanut butter, some porridge, and half a chunky muesli bar, maybe 500 calories in total. Just 5km into today, I felt like I'd already run 30km, at effort. Alternating hot and cold chills, snot, nausea, disastrous guts. Time spent lying awake last night considering the consequences of failure. This is it, the hard stuff. This is why doing the Grand Slam means something. Miss one race and it's all over. Sahara in October, Antarctic in November. But without bearing up now, none of that happens.

It seems we had a really easy ride in Atacama, but it's the potential for things to go south hard and the opportunity to turn those around - however slowly - that is certainly a distinctive characteristic of ultra running. We aren't aspirational marathoners or determined hikers. We're here for the challenge of the long day. That gives me and Matt 2 days to get it together, with the help of team and friends, so that our lasting memory of Gobi won't just be warm friendly green-eyed villagers and a race we could only stagger through.

fresh post and pics -Roger Hanney

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We've all got work to do, and going away for two months of the year we're all lucky to have the support of our respective companies. I'm extra lucky in that the guys I work for at Hoka OneOne are all about running. Hoka Australia and US, and hopefully Europe soon enough, are supporting Team Born to Run with all-important running shoes during our 4 and 5 Deserts assault. 

So I've just written a little bit about our adventure and posted some fresh pictures and videos to the Hoka OneOne blog, at http://hokaoneoneaustralia.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/team-born-to-run-rock-chile/

Drop by and check it out.


Heat Blasted -Roger

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Running 73km is one thing but running 73km across unshaded white hot surfaces in a team of 5 through temperatures hovering around 42 degrees Celsias is something else. Blogging away right now it's 118F in the sun.

I'd be surprised if the Racing The Planet Atacama website isn't just bristling with graphic descriptions of mind-warping and perspective-shifting alien landscapes, so let's skip past that for now. Day 5 was all about Team Born to run being served a big plate of nasty and chowing down until the eating was done. When we first began preparing for Chile, there was a question as to whether Matt, 21, with minimal running experience would hold up to ultra with such short and intense preparation. Asked and answered, Matt rocked, and rocked hard. Officially 'in the zone' from about 25km in, he was on a mission all day. Sydney Striders should be considering him for the ultra debut of the year.

So in the zone was Matt that after about 45km Jess ran out the front to keep him on track. With pink flags spaced anywhere from 20 to 100 metres apart, iPod-plugged Matty D locked in his groove and ran directly from one to the next, or past them. Dude is a machine, but navigation was suffering from heat and restricted calorie intake. Jess jumped in, keeping the team on track, running from front to back and back to front throughout the day, seemingly at almost no effort.

I, however, found a hole to nearly fall deeply into - the metaphorical ultra hole. While Ron and Greg towed and pushed each other on their determined and successful 700m run, 100m walk strategy, and everyone else surged or pushed, I just got beasted by the heat and relentless exposure. My body was mostly fine, but tumbling into a long run spiral on a relatively short course in the middle of the day was disorienting in itself. Towed out the back, waving the others on whenever they looked back I felt like Gollum but without the charm. Just as time wounds all heels it heals all wounds, and things eventually came good - or at least good enough.

Running through a low blood sugar, we caught up to Friends For Life, the team that beat us on all of the short days. There was some excited faffing about whether to run into the checkpoint after them or with them or ahead of them but it all came to nothing as some of us loudly opted for just running and letting whatever happens happen. Turned out we could run through the Valley of the Moon just a bit faster than Frank and his crew could walk, and that was enough to finally bag a category win for the day. Matt's first ultra, Ron charging on cheery and diesel-like, Greg really stepping up and copping the deep burn of the hardest day and our first sense this week as runners of properly competing in any real race-driven kind of way, with Jess never taking a step sideways - every ultra ends a bit emotionally but this was a proper sense of completion.

Followed by a welcome meal and a devastating lightning storm that stopped the race for the sake of runner safety - glad we finished in daylight and didn't have to go through the rigmarole that many other runners experienced, being bussed off course.

The camp on this rest day before tomorrow's big finale, ending in cerveza and pizza, is black comedy. Jetsetting adventure racers hobble about like a zombie circus and inhale the last of their dehydrated meals. Blisters, hilarious sunburn/tan marks and heat rash from heavy gaiters abound. As a team of 5 with 0 blisters and no hobbling to speak of, there have been a lot of questions asked about our running shoes. Hoka OneOne's giant footprint will hopefully be growing in South America and elsewhere after this one. Americans, South Africans, Brits, Europeans and Asian friends have all been intrigued by the Stinson Evo. Feeling fresh to run again after going for a cliff climb this morning, I can't blame them  :)

Thanks to everyone for messages of support. Now for the last of our carbs, another potentially lethal lightning storm, a last sleep in the desert, and an 11km race to beer and pizza. Let's go!!

Let's Go Long -Roger

Thursday, March 08, 2012

WOO HOO!!!! Finally at the point where we can eat a double sack of dehydrated lasagna and get our grin on because tomorrow’s The Long Day!! Can not wait to see how the team pushes through because the middle 30km of the 73 on offer will surely be in baking heat across some ugly spectacular terrain. Awesome!!

From a type 1 diabetic point of view today was a bit of a trampoline. My insulin sensitivity seems to be way up from the combination of heat, pack weight, and consecutive days. Either way, blood sugar went super high then bottomed right out on course today. Nothing that I haven’t dealt with before while running but certainly had an interesting time sorting it out on the go while thinking about my carb budget for tomorrow – the day Jess and myself and probably Ron have been utterly hanging out for, being more of the ultra than adventure racing ilk. Either way, added some variety to the experience of running across a broken-glass-crunchy salt plain for 2 or 3 hours in baking sun constantly not quite getting any closer to a shimmering green heat haze on the mid-horizon.

Washed it all away with a jump into the deep trench lagoon here at Camp 4 on arrival. Luvverly!! Also met Frank from Friends For Life, one of the teams that’s ahead of us on time. Asked if they wouldn’t mind changing their name to Berlin Death Machine so we’d feel better about running behind them. Turns out that FFL is the name of a club they’ve been in for about 5 years and in that time they’ve put on races to raise awareness about HIV in South Africa as well as donating chunks of cash to support orphanages spontaneously occurring in poor and remote communities. . . so we’re ok about them not changing their name now  J

Got word from Meghan Hicks (Hi Meghan – so cool to hear from you and hope your Sahara training is going well) finished the 350mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. Knew he would because he’s Too Dumb To Quit ;) but such good news to get word because anything can go wrong in the Yukon.

Greg’s still getting thrown into the administrative tumbledryer trying to sort out his passport, Matt’s perhaps a little nervous considering tomorrow’s going to be his longest run yet by 30km but he’s also strong and clearheaded for it, Ron’s philosophical and in good form, Jess just wants to get running long and I’m inclined to agree. Tomorrow should be interesting. Forecast remains: carnage.

With this being a complete adventure in itself but also a smaller part of an ambitious year, thoughts are already turning to Gobi, but that’s a conversation for another day. This one is a Long Day from being done but hopefully we’ll be in San Pedro Saturday night in high spirits having a cerveza with Adam, Claire, Hashimoto, Robert, and the rest of the crew who have now made it to the right side of halfway.

Stage 1 -Roger

Monday, March 05, 2012

Finally got running today! After months of anticipation, running with loaded packs, late nights ordering bulk foods, gels, bars, mandatory kit, and clothing to suit an environment likely to be anywhere between freezing and 40 degrees C we got to kick up some desert dirt. Team Born to Run is an assortment of unlikely elements that are yet to fully meld but already work together well. Matt Donovan’s the least experienced as far as running goes but is just nailing it whenever we head out together. 

A crossfit instructor with a genuine interest in nutritional theories and bodywork, he has trained by running 2-3 hour blocks wearing a 20kg weight vest. That on its own means nothing, but the guy’s both a quiet hard worker and leader by example. When he gets through this year he stands to be the youngest 4 Deserts Grand Slammer yet. The long day might challenge him with the brutal Pure South Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon in New Zealand being his biggest hitout so far, but Matt loves a challenge. His dad’s a dreamer with a vision bigger than his sweat gland. Since this whole journey began for the rest of us just a few months ago, Greg keeps pulling out the big surprises, both in terms of what he brings to the table and his own efforts. Also training hard, he ran just a bit outside himself today. Not a fan of half measures, backing up day after day will present Greg with a different challenge altogether. A dynamic father and son pairing, they’ll likely swap the lead more than a few times over the coming days.

Ron Schwebel directs a 12-hour race back in Sydney and at age 60 comes to the 4 Deserts with prospects of becoming the oldest Slammer so far. If he keeps playing team like he did today, he’ll not only get himself through but he’ll make the struggle to achieve this ambitious feat of endurance easier for the rest of us too. He loves his distances, time targets, and Garmin, but more than that I think he loves the possibilities of what we’re doing and he’s eager to make it happen. Deliberately left til last though first in my thoughts, Jess Baker is primed to knock this entire year of Racing The Planet out of the park. Even as the thin air and the first slope and overloaded backpacks kicked in, her face was beaming in the breaking light of day this morning, also so happy to finally get her run on. The strongest runner in our group, but bound like all of us by the 25-metre team rule, at least a couple of us would love to see her get the chance to Race The Planet solo and dominate like we know she could.

More specifically, today rocked. Open rocky plains, baked in sun and devoid of even the smallest vegetation were the name of the game, as were sweeping mountain vistas, red, empty riverbeds, and a sense that the week ahead will really try to stare us down before letting us pass. Reaching camp in a time of 4:15 for just over 30km, we ATE and DRANK – activities newly endowed with a near religious fascination. After exploring a nearby network of highly mineralized river gullies – again totally bone dry and crack-surfaced – we returned to camp where a sudden wind storm destroyed 2 shelters. Meanwhile, rain clouds darkened the horizon, obscuring the peaks of 6,000-metre volcanoes with foreboding grey haze while wind continued to blast us in our patch of isolated sunlight. Eerie.

Tomorrow we run through the Valley of Death. Yes, for real. Can’t wait!!