Gear for a 7-day, 250km desert race

Tomorrow I fly to Calama and then take a bus to San Pedro for the race which starts on Sunday. I have almost all the required gear and I'll be collecting the last few items today. I've aimed to keep my gear to the minimum weight possible and to try and fit everything into a small 16l pack.

The only items I'm taking above the mandatory gear is a spare pair of shorts (bringing my total to 2!), slops to walk around camp, a pair of arm warmers, my iPod, and a toothbrush. So not exactly moving into the luxurious side of camping.

In total my pack will weigh about 6.5kg and hopefully a little less with some careful trimming of unneeded packaging. I already removed all unnecessary straps and zippers from my pack and while it only saved 33g that's more than my "optional" slops at 27g. Every little thing added to my gear slowly adds up, but equally every little thing removed also adds up.

Backpack, waterproof liner, 2l hydration pack and two bottles.

Clothes for a week!

Food for a week!

Mandatory gear including sleeping bag, blister kit, lights, toiletries.

Pack fully loaded and clothes for running outside my pack.

Follow me during the Atacama Crossing

It's 5 days until the Atacama Crossing and I'm enjoying my taper and final race specific training sessions. I'm really looking forward to the race and exploring the desert in North Chile.

During the race I'll have limited access and communication, but there are a number of ways that you can follow my progress (I'll be wearing bib number 108) and send me a message during the race.

Follow me
RacingThePlanet will post regular updates – known as Breaking News – to their website during each stage. Updates will also be posted to their Facebook and Twitter pages several times per day. At the end of each day, Stage Update will be posted summarizing the day, as well as video clips and photographs. 

Sending me a message
You can send me email during the event by going to Atacama Crossing website and selecting Email a Competitor  from the Race Coverage drop-down list (emails are not private as they can be seen on the spreadsheet by other competitors).

Hiking and training in Yerba Loca

This weekend V and I went to Yerba Loca again. It's only a short drive outside of Santiago, it's not very popular to go far along the trail so it can be really quiet and we love seeing a glacier. The idea was for us to do some hiking and for me to sleep and train at altitude for the weekend in preparation for the altitude during the Atacama Crossing.

We started off late on Saturday and put in a lot of walking, about 5 hours until we reached Camp 5. I was planning to go for a run, but by the end of the day we put in some serious mileage and I was taking strain from lugging my heavy pack. I had our usual camping gear and an extra 5kg that I've been using to weight my race pack during training. It wasn't easy on the shoulders, but when I did run the next morning I felt incredibly light!

We did a lot of walking this weekend.

We slept as well as can be expected at altitude and with minimal sleeping mats, but still found it cold and a little uncomfortable. I think I had a better night's sleep at a higher altitude than our last trip so I was pleased and gave myself a pat on the back for getting up that high before the race. When I started out in the morning with my race pack I came across a number of frozen sections of water which showed that it was much colder than we had thought during the night (but not colder than we felt).

Frozen water near our camp for the night. It as cold as we thought!

In the morning I headed up towards the glacier. I thought it would be a flat route as it appeared to be in the valley next the river, but after about 5 minutes and around the first bend I was already hiking up a monster mountain. I managed 5kms in just under an hour and a half, took some great photos and headed back to camp in a frenzied 20 minute downhill run.

The river runs along the trail all the way from the glacier to the entrance of Yerba Loca.

The glacier can be seen on lots of sections along the way, but it's a long way to get up close.

As close as I got for this weekend.

After my run we walked back to the car enjoying the slightly easier downhill route. It was a tough weekend and we were very ready for an early night on Sunday.