2018 has been the epitomised the odyssey. It has been a year of challenges both physical and mental; and there have been successes and failures. It would not be an odyssey if it was easy, and it would not be an odyssey if I didn’t learn along the way.
I must be honest and say that this blog entry is tinged with disappointment and frustration at my second failure to complete the African stage of the Global Odyssey, but I am entirely comfortable with my decision to abandon forty-five kilometres into the 100k Ultra Mirage el Djerid event.
An epic run with a Mongolian mud spa treatment thrown in for free.
Where do I start? This stage of the Global Odyssey 100 was the perfect example of what the Global Odyssey is about: remote, extreme, challenging, wild, beautiful and awe inspiring. One hundred kilometres over foothills, through gorges, over desert plains in rain and sunshine with temperatures ranging from fifteen to thirty-one degrees, from dawn to night.
Roadtrip! After knocking a few ideas and plans back and forth we decided that the Global Odyssey 100 Gobi expedition should start with an eight-hundred-kilometre, two day road trip from Ulaanbaatar to the capital of the Gobi Dalanzhadgad, with an overnight stop at Mandalgovi – middle Gobi. Time to sit back, relax and get into the zone. What can I say: it was epic.
The Namibian Odyssey 100k was certainly an adventure and a journey of discovery; just not the one I had expected. How wrong did it go? Spectacularly wrong. They say, that if you are going to fail; fail with style, get eaten by a leopard or something of that ilk. Failing because you are bit pooped simply lacks panache. I can give Cyrano de Bergerac a run for his money when it comes to panache.
‘If you're seeing things running through your head Who you gonna call?’ Sandbaggers!
There I was dreaming about those remote, extreme, beautiful, exquisitely painful 100ks that you have set yourself the challenge of doing for the Global Odyssey 100. Antarctica, no problem: done. Europe, no problem: done. Africa; wait a minute, there are not that many one-day 100k events on the African continent and the ones I found just did not seem to whet my appetite. There was something missing, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. Do I settle?
Raid Des Bogomiles: Do I get the prize for the most amusing race name? You have to admit that coming from a country where the word ‘boggin’ is common parlance and where you frequently run through miles of bog it has a certain amusement value.
Did the Grand Raid Des Bogomiles, (one of three races held within the Grand Raid Des Cathars), provide miles of bog? No, but there was an ascent up vertical mud slide which left me fairly boggin.
I am generally regarded by ‘normal’ people as a bit crazy, but I am in good company; there are quite a few of us ‘crazies’ aka ultra-runners. I am not sure why, you would not want to run a silly number of miles in extreme, exotic, remote and beautiful places? Why would you be regarded as mad for running marathon distances and longer in the Scottish Highlands, the Atacama Desert, the North Pole and Antarctica?
Around and around and around we go …….
Running 21 laps (or double for the 100k participants) round the North Inch in Perth is perhaps not what most people would want to be doing on Easter Sunday. In my case it also meant ‘taking the pledge’ and leaving a wedding just as the dancing was getting going the day before. But, turns out it was worth it.