Stage 4: Part 1

Stage 4: Part 1

The Stage 3 marathon had done a number on us. By the time Day 4 rolled around, the drop out rate had already equaled the total drop out rate in past years’ races. And the distance was finally taking its toll – either you couldn’t keep any food down or you simply burned a lot of calories; whichever path you took you would have acquired a frighteningly gaunt look (Edward Matts, I’m looking at you). The men were also sprouting cavemen beards. So in some ways we just looked like a bunch of clueless people stuck in a really badly planned weight loss camp.

A star attraction had also blossomed in our neighbor’s tent as the abomination that are Emma’s feet (if they can be still called that) were rapidly becoming the gold standard for injuries amongst competitors. Honestly, the woman deserves a medal just for her speedwork in developing blisters. By Day 2 the blisters at her heels had grown so big that she looked like she had four heels instead of two. You can only imagine the condition the feet were in by Day 4.

sahara race 250km-126A perfect day to be out in the desert

But whatever cards we were dealt, the sun rose over Stage 4 anyway and we were off at a gallop again for our rendezvous with the next campsite. I say it like it’s some romantic adventure, but in reality it was a lot more strategically thought out than that. Having survived Stage 3, most of us were already casting our sights on Stage 5, the infamous Long March which was set to be all of 94km this year. Today’s 38km stage was effectively a breather, a gulp of air between dives; all strategies deployed today had the sole purpose of getting us to the starting line of Stage 5 in optimum condition.
An undercurrent of tension ran through the camp the morning of Stage 4 as we mulled over the implications of this stage. Should I go out strong and finish this leg in good time to get more rest time at camp in preparation for Stage 5? Or should I take it easy and stock up on energy for Stage 5? If the former, there was the risk of going out too strong then blowing up during the Long March; if the latter, then the long stretches spent out in the sun today could wilt you away even before Stage 5 began.

It was always a battle of balance. Against the backdrop of such cold, logical deliberations, we witnessed the most romantic start to the race we had yet to glean.

Go to Stage 4: Part 2

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