Coached by Bill Brunner.
The Atacama Crossing is done and very dusted for 2015! Part of the annual 4Deserts series, the Atacama Crossing took us across 250km’s of the driest, saltiest, sandiest, and most beautiful terrain imaginable. We camped each night in a new location as we made our way one step at a time through 6 day stages towards San Pedro, Chile. Most competitors found a run/hike strategy was needed to traverse the rivers, scramble up and ski down the sand dunes and ravines, and most importantly: face the unrelenting salt flats.
Apart from a few Lamas and Donkeys, there was nothing in the way of wildlife except lizards. Evidently we were the only living things interested in taking on the dry, 40C+ heat, but it was worth it!
5 months of training had me in good shape to complete the race, however as this was my first 4 Deserts event, I probably kept conservatively within my limits. Now I know I can go faster, and run more, but will need more strength training and time practicing on the technical, rocky descents. I’m willing though…. training has begun for the roving race in Sri Lanka, Feb 2016!
Overall the Atacama Crossing was an amazing event – a true mental exercise in positive thinking and will power, and a physical test of perseverance. I’m glad to say my strategy for taping my feet worked – only 1 small blister and the expected lost toenails. I came away much better than those who didn’t go with pre-emptive taping – a quick YouTube search on the OxFam Trailwalker tips would have saved a few athletes from some bone deep sores - ouch. Next time I know I need more sunscreen, better gaiters, and I can take less food and save the pack weight – my poor shoulders were much more sore than my legs!
The Atacama desert has since flowered – a rare event. I think we sprinkled enough sweat to bring the whole desert into bloom. Amazing, and highly recommended as a true life experience.
Photo credits to race photographer Scott Manthey.