What 2018 has taught me (and no I did not promise you a games room)

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2018 has 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. As my odyssey journey continues into 2019, there is still far to travel and challenges to be taken and I will be prepared for them.

Time for an annual roundup, and not so serious look at what the year has taught me: so, in no particular order:

  • I go a long way to run a long way.

  • If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry again. It seems that northern Europeans, or at least this northern European, are not well designed to operate in extreme heat. After two heats in the African stage of the Global Odyssey its African deserts 2, Audrey 0. It is somewhat ironic that the woman who thought she hated the cold and loved heat has found that when it comes to running it is the complete opposite.

  • Having a Dory moment is strange. I cannot account for about two hours in the Namibian desert, but I am still certain that I did not promise my husband a games room.

  • If you try to curl up on an old tyre covered in a foil blanket in the desert you quickly start to feel like the Sunday roast.

  • Those strange zig-zag lines in the sand are snake tracks.

  • Witnessing a canyon re-shaping itself is pretty spectacular. What happened to the trail?

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  •  Beware the lurking and cunningly disguised mud pool. As I disappeared up to the hip I realised that patch of wet sand was not all that it seemed. Mongolian mud spa on the run.

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  • It is possible to be almost completely covered in mud but keep your white t-shirt pristine. It’s a skill.

  • Pooping in the middle of the road in front of an air traffic control tower is probably not so classy.

  • ‘A nugget of purest green’. Miles upon miles of green in the desert? The Gobi Desert is sometimes green covered with millions of chive plants (Gobi onions). Also, pineapple weed. The olfactory senses get a little confused when presented with the whiff of pineapple and onion simultaneously.

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  • When you see a runner lying flat out, not moving on the forest track it is not a heart attack case, its Ivan having a nap. Lift the finger poised over the nine and put the mobile away.

  • When running in polite company spitting and snot rockets are not allowed. Yes, there are well behaved runners out there. I was very well behaved.

  • The snot rocket remains the most efficient way of clearing the snot. Where does it all come from? One of life’s great mysteries.

  • There’s a one-eyed goat dog residing in Namibia: yes, that is a thing.

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  • Fifty euros to upgrade: a bargain when you want to avoid the screaming toddler two rows up on the long-haul flight.

  • Always look behind you before you start to show-boat the finish line. Someone (John) may have caught up.

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  • I hate those conversations where someone uses false modesty to suss out if you are competition or not, especially when it’s not a race: I repeat, it’s not a race, it’s a challenge!

  • Always take a moment to look behind and not miss some of the best views.

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  •  Tuesday the 14th of August 2018 was an auspicious day to get married in Mongolia. Parliament Square in Ulaanbaatar was awash with brides from early morning through to evening: quite surreal really.

  • Salt tablets: where have you been all my life. Desert essential.

  • The hotel from The Shining exists, it is in Mandalgovi in the middle of the Gobi.

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  • It is a bit freaky when you find hair poking out between the bathroom tiles.

  • Half a can of beer and some beef jerky don’t really cut it as post-race re-fueling. I was desperate and it seemed such a good idea at the time.

  • Why do I keep running in the dark? This might be why.

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  • Pay more for fewer changes and a more direct flight: Windhoek to Cologne, to Munich to Glasgow. Why, just why?

  • There’s a lot of dead stuff out there.

  • A haunch of raw meat and some coke zero are not what I had in mind when I was told the back-up support vehicle had supplies.

  • My mileage for 2018 has been lower than in previous years, but they have been hard miles, very hard miles. It’s not always about the numbers.

  • Chafing: ooft! Just ooft! There has to be a chafe free bra somewhere out there. Every time I think I have found the one ……..

  • Alasdair is the best husband ever, and the best ever support crew: and like I didn’t know that already.

  • The world according to Rowan: you should never wear odd socks. That way they will have a match when they find your leg.