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Day 6, Stage 5: 48km (44’ at some point but probably hotter)

By Kim van Kets

Jeepers!  Someone just turned the heat up!  That was hard.  But before we start with the extreme difficulty of today, a brief mention about my culinary triumph last night.  It completely exceeded my expectations on every level.  Thanks to Rambo and Louis and the lovely boys for supplying a tiny fire which enabled me to pull off this desert pizza cooking conquest.  So for 5 days I lugged bases, tomato paste, olives, olive pesto (with rosemary), Parmesan, mini salamis and chili around the desert for the joy and entertainment of eating it on the night of the rest day.  And it was worth it on every level.  I had meant to have a whole lot of them to share around but in the end there were only 2 because I got hungry and had to eat the extra bases.  There were about 10 pieces to share with 54 maatjies…. it got quite competitive. (Actually 53. Harry refrained from competing because “you never eat another man’s rations”.)

Altie reckons that when she ate some of the leftovers of the olive pesto her ankle immediately felt better.  (I considered making a poultice out of the dregs but in the end fed it to someone instead.  It may not have worked and that would have been a waste).

There was a palpable sense of fear in the camp this morning as everyone prepared for what is known to be the toughest day of the week.  The weather predictions certainly didn’t help.  I had a brief moment of panic when I realised my scalp was getting too sunburned to allow the existence of my pigtails but thankfully Craig (of “they get stronger when they calve” fame) saved the day by producing some alcohol based suntan spray that enabled me to slather my scalp. Whew. We set off in 5 groups between 6 am and 8 am and it was already hot by the time I set off with the 8am group.  I decided I needed to occupy myself with something that would make me happy and so I trailed behind the racing snakes (I had no choice anyway) and made up a rhyme that went like this:

“We do not fear this desert heat
In fact it makes us quite upbeat
We have had enough to eat
In tip top shape are our 2 feet
(lies, all lies)
Today we will not just complete
Our stage 5 strat is to DEFEAT!”

[failing which we will fall on our own penknives in a Gazebo 7 suicide pact (sort of like a cyanide pill) which will at least secure us an honorable discharge.]

I performed it for myself the whole way up the first riverbed and then for virtually everyone I passed.  They seemed mostly confused, but gracious.  I was hoping to catch up with John and convert it into a rap again (he does the beat box sound and the expletives) but he (and a number of others) had taken a detour and when we met up and I didn’t feel like it would be emotionally intelligent to insist on his creative help.  Maybe later…  A number of people took the detour, including Erica, who clocked up an extra 6 km as a result (but still came in ahead of the other women) and managed to have a brilliant attitude throughout the mishap.  I think she will receive a Zen Garden as an award this evening, representative of her astounding mindset.   Apparently a lot of runners (who didn’t get lost) were treated to a herd of kudu at approx. the position of the “detour”.

Stage 5 was super tough.  There is no getting away from the fact.  We are physically and mentally exhausted, many people have injuries and blisters and today was long and hot and difficult on every level.  It was all about management out there: Manage your hydration, manage nutrition, manage temperature, feet, headspace.  Manage expectations and check point yearning.  One sip Drip-Drop, 2 sips water, one foot in front of the other, run as much as possible….put something in your mouth at every checkpoint, practice my poem.

And then with about 2 legs to go I had the extraordinary good fortune of catching up with Harry, Peter and Paddy (who reacts positively to abuse) and suddenly things felt easier and more fun.  Harry (70) is a retired Sergeant Major (really!!) and telling people what to do comes easily to him.  Although I don’t usually respond well to orders, I found it surprisingly fabulous to obey his instructions to run/walk.  The 3 of them were hilarious and wonderful company and the km’s ticked away quicker than I had hoped.  It was an enormous relief to stop.  The walking wounded are trickling in, there are some folk who are over heating, feet look trashed, there is an interesting heat rash, a lot of emotion unrivalled camaraderie.  We are getting it done.  Together.  One step at a time.  It is just starting to dawn on us that this is our last night.  How did that even happen? Hallelujah! SOB!


Back broken (I think he means the race, not his back.) Nearly home.  “Go n-eiri an bother linn. “Fergus Wall (That last bit is Gaelic, I haven’t lost it.)

Amazeballs!  1 day left! Nearly baked like a bean today.  Back in the tent.  “Colonials and Britannica.  Who knows. Tomorrow “Ar nos na gaoithe.” Neal O’Riorden

Its worth mentioning that the Irish and Boere were separated from Britannica in an effort to reduce conflict (and pillaging) but it seemed that they (Irish and Boere) missed their abusers (our own case of Stockholm Syndrome) so they are all back together again tonight.  Who knows what may transpire….

How is your hand?

Hand is ok, no troubles.

What is the trouble?  Well everyone is asking about my hand.  The actual trouble is that it is 44 degrees and I am freaking hot! Pavel Paloncy (who has one hand in a cast!)

Whoopee!  Day 6 is complete! Proper Kalahari sunshine and heat.  Just the last day to finish and then cold beer! Lots of tough guys out there! Annie Dougall

Race to the beer tomorrow to finish the event.  Whoop whoop! Robert Treadwell

Bring on the heat!  I want more heat!  Good day in the sun.  I had a good strong run and then got lost, missed a turn off and ended up running an extra 3 km’s.  Got over it and recovered.  The beer will taste even better now at the finish.  Tomorrow is just 26km and then we are done.  A walk in the park! John Williamson

Hot day but good.  One more day to the beer.  Harry Hunter

One can’t help noticing that there seems to be quite a distinct beer theme….