Atacama Crossing - Stage 6

4th place

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)


Brian said...

Cool pics, looks like pretty swak running territory though, but what a challenge.

Daniel Rowland said...

Hi Brian

It was really tough running terrain - the worst I've ever run on. The first day and the first 30km of the second day were on rocky, desert ground and a sand dune, but then we hit the salt flats. Salt flats are nothing you can imagine until you get into them. It looks like white rocky ground and you think it will be hard ground, and sometimes it is, but sometimes it's like thick mud. My feet would either sink in a few centimetres and then squelch out or I'd hit an unexpected hard patch and it would vibrate through my body. Every step was uncertain.

This photo taken on the last day was a really short section of salt and by then I was running in the salt flats quite well. I guess it took a few days to figure out how to do it!

Brian said...

Eish guy, that sounds epic, I think i must come and run with you when I am strong again, January is looking like a good plan.

Daniel Rowland said...

Awesome! Let's work on the plans for January and run some epic trails.

Anonymous said...

Amazing reports from each day, just awesome!

That's totally whetted my appetite for the fun/pain ahead :o)

Catch you soon Daniel.

Daniel Rowland said...

Glad you liked the reports and nice to meet you this afternoon.

It's going to be a great race!