Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My First 2012 Challenge : Atacama Crossing 2012

I have set myself a few challenging races to compete in this year, my first one being the Atacama Crossing 2012, which will be held in Chile from 4th to 10th March. I have not told many people about this lest any injury befalls me and my plan to Chile fails. Only very few of my close friends are privy to this knowledge and hence, I have been training silently and pushing my limit since beginning of December.

With the arrival of the Atacama Crossing 2012 and 4 Desserts patches from the organiser a few days ago, the excitement of the Race is slowly building up in me, with only just about 34 days to go!! I am now an official Competitor for race. You can check out the whole list of competitors and other information about the Race from this link:

I also have a blog set up on the site, where I will try to update as much as I can, of my experience during the 7-day run at the Race on a daily basis, provided I am not completely knocked out by the end of each stage! You will be able to leave your comments for my blogs but I will only be able to read them after the Race as there will be no internet connection in the desert, where we will be camping every night. This is the link :

Be that as it may, you will be able to send emails to me here: Just choose my name from the Competitor's drop-box, type in your name and your email address. The organiser will print all emails to me via this method and I will get to read them (hopefully!) after our run each day. So, a line or two of words of encouragement from you will be much appreciated!

Weaving in my training between my crazy work schedules (I often have to work 7 days- a-week on 11 hours’ shifts) have been made more challenging with the horribly wet, cold and muddy English weather of late. However, the thought that there are about 180 other competitors going through the same challenge as I am facing, keeps me going strong and inflames the determination in me.

I have only started running again in 2010 after my last big race in 2007 where I suffered a severe injury. The psychological impact of the injury on me has been so tremendous to the extent that it had put me off running completely for a whole 3 years!! Like a child who begins learning to take his first few steps, I started to tread cautiously (initially) before progressing to run through the beautiful English countryside trails around where we live in April 2010 (when the weather decides to be nice and generous). The joy of being able to do it again was overwhelming and indescribable. I have not stopped running since!

How have I prepared for Atacama 2012? What equipment have I bought for the Race? What food? What clothing? I am afraid I am not very savvy when it comes to “Preparations-before-the-Race” and had only just very recently ordered most of the stuffs which are recommended by the organiser’s website from Racing the Planet Outdoor Store. My wife went berserk when I told her that for the Marathon des Sables which I participated back in 2006, I only received my rucksack and most of the mandatory essentials in Paris one day before leaving for the race in Morocco because my Parisian friend has kindly purchased all the things on a list I sent him in cosmopolitan Paris, which I could not at that time find in Greece.

This attitude of mine has got my wife more nervous than me as she has been reading the blogs of other competitors who have discussed about all the equipment and essentials in earnest. It was the nagging (sorry, Wifey!) which has got me going and I am now glad and grateful that it did, because I soon realised that the mandatory list of equipment is quite a lengthy one! So, having bought most that are necessary and mandatory, I can now concentrate solely on my training.

I do an average of 90 km per week and I was quite happy with my training until one day, Wifey asked me as I was piling on layers of clothes for my run in the now icy and slippery trails around our home : “why is it that you are running without your rucksack when other competitors are training with theirs, packed with all their gear and essentials?” Arrrgh!! She has been reading the blogs again!! I told her that I will certainly do that nearer the time of the Race.

So here I am now, with only 34 days to go – a full rucksack on my back, complete with water bottles and energy bars etc. etc... running through the ferocious rain, splattering on my face and the vicious wind, howling at a merciless speed of 50mph. With each step that I made, I found my feet sinking into 5-inch deep mud and my balance therefore, dangerously affected and my movement, highly restricted!! And there in the rain, with Lesiem’s Fundamentum blaring in my ears, I dream of Dry, Hot (well, at least during the day!), ATACAMA !!!! Take me there, quick !!!!!!

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