Stage six was a fantastic day! We all knew that it would be short and fast and that there was pizza waiting for us at the end. After a week in the desert eating freeze-dried meals, which were the same two or three flavors for the whole week, thoughts of fresh food were the talk of the camp. The final stage started later than the other days, at 10 o'clock, so there was a little extra time to pack and get ready for the day. Everyone was taking photos with new friends and tent mates and the spirit of camp was light and excited.
|Tent 7 before the last day (Source: Yasuhiro Yomota)
We started running in the dry, salt-covered river bed where we ended stage five, but quickly turned onto a dirt road that was flat and fast. The route led downwards from the Valley of the Moon to San Pedro and it was great running at the best pace I would do all week. I was in a group of four about a minute behind the leading four.
|The last section of salt in a long salty race! (Source: Yasuhiro Yomota)
After three and a half kilometers we crossed the river and turned into the town of San Pedro. The final kilometers of the Atacama Crossing were along beautiful tree-lined streets and I could almost taste the pizza at the finish. Mark and I were running together again, we had moved ahead of the other two in our group and we caught Massi (Italy) who was running in 4th about a kilometer from the finish. Massi and I ran together many times during the previous few days and he promised to beat me in at least one stage and almost did it on the last day!
|Tree lined streets of San Pedro - almost there! (Source: Yasuhiro Yomota)
Mark and I finished together which was a fantastic way to end the race as we had been close most of the week. The most exciting part of the final day was seeing Vanessa who was waiting for me at the finish line! She was so excited, was shouting for me to sprint the last few hundred meters, and I could see her standing in front of everyone else just across the finish line. I was pleased to be done, happy that it was a short day and glad to finish 4th on the last stage.
|Almost done! (Source: 4Deserts)
|Racing with fellow Zimbabwean Mark (Source: 4Deserts)