Adam Woolliscroft

Adventures, Races, Kit and Life

Atacama Crossing 2013 – The Long March

Day 5 – I survived the long March

It was very much a race of 2 halves, ‘strong’ and ‘broken’ !

p10507751.jpg The start of the race was fantastic. The lead pack pranced like show ponies, straight out in to the shallow, clear water of the salt lake that we had been camping next too. It was a beautiful experience. Very special and magical to canter ( due to full energy levels ) through the crystal clear salty waters as the sun rose. Some were a little worried about the effects of the salt water on their blisters – stinging and soaking the bandages practically holding their feet together ( a fair call and a potentially tough start to a 75km run ! )  – but for me it was an ideal start to the day and the photos capture it perfectly.

P1050777We then headed across about 15km of dreaded lumpy, ugly salt flats…. The lead pack took this difficult terrain and a steady march pace, which was great as it meant another 15km nailed without really dipping into the valuable energy reserves or over heating. It was very social running, 5 days into the event, with plenty of good chat. We saw wild Lamas and Donkeys, which was nice.

Then the pace picked up and we trotted into rolling sand dunes, and further salt flats all leading to a tough climb up a huge sand dune, acting as a ramp onto the dramatic moon like plateau above. I was still going strong, and trooping along in an impressive 4th place as we reached the top, and both pleased and determined to hold the position. Grrr !

P1050823We then descended through incredible Martian type scenery, unlike anything I have seen, ( I kept expecting to see a moon buggy or a little green chap ) onto a narrow, steep and therefore fast sand dune ridge down into the hot, arid valley below. Great photos again.

To me the valley was “the valley of motivational death” ! A scorching 15km monotonous plod through hell… I guess I had pushed it too hard on my sprightly, high adrenaline sand dune ascent, and it was payback time… I almost instantly bombed here and the dynamics of the long march changed for me then and there.descent to the valley fo motivational death

P1050800I pushed on as long and hard as I could with a mix of walking and shuffling but struggled massively in the heat, at circa 45 degrees ( even with a touch of cloud cover ). A few runners started to sneak past but there was nothing I could do to keep up. When I pushed the pace to pursue I became nauseous. My stomach refused both my energy drink and electrolytes, leaving me in an increasingly difficulty position. I summoned all of my mental determination to push on and take my body to its limits, but when my pee turned to a dark brown sludge, and became very painful, and my body suddenly decided it wanted to try and pee every 5 minutes ( when I hadn’t needed to for 5 hours previously ), I knew it was time to REALLY slow down and force myself to drink as much as possible… Gotta listen to the little fella !

The rest of the day, about another 5 slow, hard hours, was tough going mentally as the competitive side of me knew I was losing hard gained places, yet I knew I needed to take it easy on the body and let it rebalance.

salt lots of it

Every cloud has its silver lining and the scenery in the last 10km was incredible, as we continued down ’the valley of the moon’ an impressive tourist spot. Twice I was asked for directions !! I was lucky to be able to appreciate this before the final relief of spotting the finish flags  and as triumphantly as possible declaring the gruelling 75km, behind me. Yey !

After 10 hours and 25mins of battling it out, I came in 8th on the day.


Today, Day 6, is a rest day, as some of the runners will take 24 hours to cover the same distance and then tomorrow there is just a short 15km canter to the final finish line in San Pedro…….. and real food, juicy, fresh, moist, delicious food !! Can’t wait !!


Now down to just below 80kg, so really ready for a huge juicy ( did I mention Juicy already ) feed, as I have been fantasizing about food for some time now.

P1050791camp 5 sunset


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on March 21, 2013 by in Main Menu and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: