From Namibia (see previous blog post) back to Frankfurt, then on to Beijing (the coldest and most unfriendly airport I have ever set foot in) and a final short hop to Ulaanbataar: departing Namibia on Sunday night and arriving in Ulaanbataar on Tuesday, yes, Tuesday afternoon, losing 7 hours on the way.
Our adventure started on a wet January morning as we flew from Glasgow to Frankfurt where we hooked up with David Scott (Sandbaggers) the organiser and the rest of the group before the overnight flight to Windhoek the capital of Namibia.
It has been a strange old year in so many ways: Brexit, Trump – who’d have thought – if I’d put money on those results my Global Odyssey would be paid for. Yes, it’s been a funny old year.
My father has been in my thoughts recently, more so than normal. He died a good many years ago now at the age of 59. A life too short for a larger than life man who had such gusto for life. I am not sure why he is so much in my thoughts. Several things may have prompted it.
At the recent Glen Ogle 33 I had my first experience of sweeping. For the uninitiated a sweeper is positioned at the rear of the race behind the last competitor: and as the name suggest sweeps along the route ensuring that the runner stays on course and letting the check points know that there is no left on the course: simple, but there are a number of rules. I was sweeping with Ada, a seasoned sweeper and great person to learn the tricks of the trade from.
Should I be worried that my trail shoes have increasingly extreme names? Grit, Fellrasier, Roclite, Terra Claw, Arctic Talon.
It’s a case of horses for courses, or rather shoes for courses. Unlike road shoes, where I have a single brand and model that I run in; I have learned that one shoe fits all does not necessarily apply to trails where the underfoot conditions can vary greatly. I learned to my cost in April when my chosen and only shoe did not cope with a technical downhill involving damp and wet conditions over leaves, rocks and tree roots. A number of slips and falls, and a wrenched ankle later I withdrew from the race.
And therein lies a story. When I caught sight of a new ultra-marathon signing up was a 'no brainer', and so I entered the inaugural Dunoon 50k a good few months ago. Note the zero after the five there and the ‘good few months ago’.
There was weather. There is always weather in Scotland, but this weather was biblical. I was wetter than a wet thing that is very wet for nine hours.