Atacama Crossing Blogs 2023

Nicholas Bartlett



Atacama Crossing (2023) blog posts from Nicholas Bartlett

29 September 2023 05:01 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

Thank you
For the support
For the love
For the patience
For the belief
For the encouragement
For the commitment
I could not have done it without you Sarah.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Sarah Bartlett

Posted On: 29 Sep 2023 08:30 pm

You’ve made me a blubbering wreck. It’s 5.30pm and I have 2 kids snoring beside me. Don’t care about any kind of routine - flamingos and lamas, heat and altitude has made for a day of kid highs and lows! Now I sit in the dark listening to their snores and counting down the hours to be reunited xxx

Sarah Bartlett

Posted On: 29 Sep 2023 08:30 pm

You’ve made me a blubbering wreck. It’s 5.30pm and I have 2 kids snoring beside me. Don’t care about any kind of routine - flamingos and lamas, heat and altitude has made for a day of kid highs and lows! Now I sit in the dark listening to their snores and counting down the hours to be reunited xxx

29 September 2023 03:01 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

 The day after
Euphoria. That is the single word that swallowed me up a I crossed the finish line as the moon rose over the Atacama desert having completed day 5’s Long March.
72 kilometres, through 6 check points that took me 11 hours and 51 minutes to complete. Every hour of training, every piece of advice given every single ounce of self belief came together to give an experience that was phenomenal.
The valley de la Luna was spectacular. Brutal but totally amazing. The highlight for me was a 350 foot sand dune climb and descent that elicited nothing but swear words on the way up and whoops and hollers on the way down. The run into camp was fast, was spine tingling and as you crossed the line, everyone in the camp wrapped their arms around you with congratulations.
The last competitor crossed the line having marched through the night, 24 hours after the start - totally inspiring, the determination to finish and belief in your ability to get there a proper life lesson.
Today is a rest day. We’re all trying to relax, get our feet tended to and barter whatever food we have left so we can taste something else. Sarah and the kids have arrived in the desert and after the last 18 kiilometres tomorrow we’ll be back together (although Dot has banned me from any hugging as I’ll be too stinkie - unlucky).
It’s nearly over. It’s going to take a while to download what I’ve seen and how I’ve done but I’ve met some amazing people all united not by their ability to run, but by their determination and willingness to get it done.

Comments: Total (0) comments

27 September 2023 09:59 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

I'm gonna give you a run down of this crazy day by the hour so you can get a feel for the details.

5 a.m - first people are up and getting breakfast in
6 a.m - I get up!
6.15 - 1000 calories of dried porridge with mango, a coffee and 750ml of electrolites (I detest these breakfasts but you have to get it down as early as possible so its digested.)
6.45 - Repack your backpack - its started at 11.5kgs (way too heavy) its now down to about 9
7.00 - Sun comes up. Apply Suntan lotion, foot lotion, lip lotion and put back on the clothes you've been wearing for the last 3 days or 120km's. Ignore the smell.
7.30 - Race briefing - today is 44km's and across the magnificent salt flats 
8.00 - Race starts - go through start line turn right, run up a 80 foot sand dune. Thanks
3.15 - cross the finish line, 15th with a time of 7hours and 15 minutes.
I'm going to stop there and fill you in on today - the heat was off the chart. The organisers had to abandon the race for a few competitors as the tempreture was in the high 40's and the terrain meant that if anyone got into trouble then help and water was too far away. They're still in the race but safty first.
The salt flat crossing was 12.5km's. Under your feet was an ancient lake that now was crystalised. This had the added impact of reflecting the heat back at you from the ground. The salt was exactly like running on massive frozen brocalli - it collapsed under every step, running was out. It was truely the most mentally and physically tough thing I have ever done. To add flavour to this when I bent down to do my laces, there was a chilean black trantular or baby chicken spider right by my trainer. I played it cool, thought about deadly sixty and how would Dottie like me to play it. I ran.
I had to break my earphone cherry today as I had been marching for 3 hours on my own and needed some inspiration. It was like I'd never heard music before. I simultaniously burst out laughing and crying - it was intense - I must have looked mad (theres lots of crying going on around this place as people achieve things and break things and the food starts to disappaear.)
4p.m - hobble around, wash feet, get busy with the wet wipes (they are not designed for this job)
5p.m - Eat 1000 calories of dried spag bol with some dried mango and some biltong. (During the race I have about 300 calories of gels - so you can see that we're all starting to look thin now!)
7.30 Sun sets, bed.
I've made it to the long march - tomorrow is 75 kilometres, its going to be hard - thanks for the support, its means so much and means I'm not the only one in this tent blubbing.

Comments: Total (4) comments

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 29 Sep 2023 07:54 pm

You have this. Thin is good! Not much more now! Love ya

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 29 Sep 2023 07:53 pm

You have this. Thin is good! Not much more now! Love ya

Jane Tubbs

Posted On: 28 Sep 2023 06:04 am

You are doing so well. Today will be difficult but Sarah Dottie and Kit are on their way. There is a thought to get you through. Love you

Big Nose

Posted On: 28 Sep 2023 05:41 am

And on to the big one, lovely words Mr B. Support, love and mental resilience from the uk. Smashing it….party and family not too far away now Love The Nose n family X

26 September 2023 08:59 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

Heads down for a full house
I need to find new descriptors beyond brutal to describe the day that’s just been but I made it and wow, how can one country have so many terrains to try and undo a runner! 42km, 37 degrees, no shade.
Today started with a flat road but that luxury (as ever with this race) was merely a delicious starter for what was to come. We were introduced to the famous ‘frozen broccoli’, crystallised mud that has bubbled up and set in ankle snapping formations for 10km and then we shifted to 10km climbing up the lower slopes of one of Licancabur’s sister volcano’s shale.
And then we hit the sand. Wow, heat everywhere, loose sand everywhere, swearing at everything - after the flat road of the morning, today was about trekking, fast, focusing on where you put your feet and getting your head down. It wasn’t a day for delighting in the scenery, it was a day of extremes, toil and pushing.
Feeling like I’m starting to understand how to do this thing. There is so much to learn, advice is everywhere amongst this dirty, aching community of runners and I’m soaking it up. As I sit here, people are still crossing the line, 11 hours after the start, they’ve soaked up this sun all day and they’re 7 hours after todays 1st place but they are having it, one foot in front of the other and damn, they are going to get over that line. 

Comments: Total (1) comments

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 27 Sep 2023 10:38 am

We are seeing some great photos of you and the landscape. Super blog btw

25 September 2023 05:59 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

Nothing short of brutal. Today was a 37km stage through some of the most intense scenery on this planet. It was also 36 degrees with very little shade. 

The excitement of day 1 was a bit more muted this morning as everyone now realised what was probably ahead of them. First up, the slot canyons, 8km of river crossings, waist deep and freezing cold. The first test of the feet as it was fast flowing and a proper wake up - its so hot and dry, the trainers were back up and running in 30 minutes. From here it was on to the valley of mars, a very steep 40 minute climb onto the top of a ridgeway that simply took your breath away. It was hot, it was hard, and after a while it was more climbing until the sand dune. A 300 feet down scramble which was simply incredible (sand everywhere) - checkpoint 3 and from here onto the crystal gorge - not making this up, a steep ravine with dried salt from the top to the bottom. Incredible
So far so good, legs OK, pack causing me real shoulder issues (too much weight) but then we came to the final stage - an 11km flat march across a dried riverbed, it was a pure job of work to be done. No shade, its now 2p.m and everything’s shimmering. Just keep going….to finish a climb up a 60 sand dune and the crazy applause of the racing the planet team.
Camp tonight is a strange mix of noises (as people seize up) hobbling (as the blisters now start to rampage through the group) and nervousness for tomorrow - a long day with alot of sand. 
As you cross the finish line you just want it to stop. 30 minutes later you start to download what you’ve seen and what you could have done better and then an hour after that, you start prepping for tomorrow - my fellow runners are amazing - perhaps more on them tomorrow but for now - dried mac and cheese and in bed by 7.30.

Comments: Total (3) comments

Big Rog Clark

Posted On: 26 Sep 2023 07:56 pm

Sending lots of love from London big man showed the girls the photos and they are super impressed. Keep going just think about the beers after. XOXO (hugs and kisses apparently)

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 26 Sep 2023 02:35 pm

Keep going bro. We are cheering you on as well

Jane Tubbs

Posted On: 26 Sep 2023 11:09 am

So proud. You have this

24 September 2023 07:35 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

Volcanos, lava, heat, half eaten animals and a fiery sun, I’m convinced all that’s missing is the winged beast.

The day started at 4.30a.m with everyone up by 5.30, way too excited to stay quiet. In camp tonight, I’m pretty sure that we’ve got past these initial nerves. 
The race started in breathtaking beauty - the valley of Rainbows gave us a show as the sun came up and we all started the 35 kilometres in awe of the surroundings. Today gave us a real mix of terrains, all joined together but the total lack of shade, tough shingle and boulders underfoot and our first taste of real heat.
A few donkey carcasses strewn on the desert floor added some flavour to the heat, lizards scattered in front of us but nothing else moved as we moved from flag to flag across the Atacama plain. Today was high, just over 11,000 feet making the air thin and otherwise normal activity harder than it should have been. 
The last 5 km’s were brutal, a constant climb with never ending bends that demonstrated another section of incline around every corner. Absolute unanimous cursing by all those who finished …. A real test of mind over matter.
That’s it, spirits are high, just had my first wet wipe wash, life is now fragrant.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Meg Fordham

Posted On: 25 Sep 2023 07:52 pm

Loving reading these!! We’re all rooting for you Nick you’re doing incredibly 💪 Another day down!

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 25 Sep 2023 02:31 pm

I can smell you from here. 🤩. Keep going and avoid those 👹 monsters. Love ya bro!

23 September 2023 08:59 pm (GMT-04:00) Santiago

An amazing day of meeting new friends from every country imaginable started with a bleary eyed coffee and wander around the beautiful San Pedro de Atacama.
Before breakfast, nervous repacking and adding and taking from the equipment list led me back to exactly where I started! Briefing at 10 and all 107 competitors looked shiny and relaxed…didn’t last long as the equipment review and medical checks left a few hustling back into town to get the ticks they needed on the list.
Today, Chile played England in the rugby World Cup and although I’d found the one bar showing it, timings and some self discipline let me away from the bar and a cheeky pre game beer.
Lunch was a massive pizza, I ordered a Hawaiian  and forget about the amount of judgement you get for that order! The buses arrived and we all boarded at 3.30 for the most amazing journey that culminated in The Valley of rainbows and base camp one. No photo could do this place justice. What a place to start. We’re ready, there’s a lot of laughter, tomorrow is game day and I get a feeling that the laughs are going to stay.
Saturday done.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Ste Green

Posted On: 24 Sep 2023 11:00 am

All the best buddy! We’re thinking of you. Love from the Green Davies clan in sunny Dubai

Mark Bartlett

Posted On: 24 Sep 2023 06:59 am

Good luck! Inspirational

02 September 2023 11:23 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Less than three weeks now until I board that plane to the Atacama Desert and run with 120 others from 30 countries across 250km of the world's toughest and most amazing terrain.

Starting at 11,000 feet above sea level, we'll run over 7 days, carrying everything we need on our backs for no other reason than the joy of #adventure and seeing where our limits lie.

I'm doing it for Mind, please donate what you can, we all need some help at one time or another in our lives and Mind are there when we do. please click the link fir the full story and to donate. Thanks 😊

Comments: Total (0) comments

21 August 2023 09:12 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

The bank of belief

49 days to go till I step on the plane and join 120 people from 30 countries to compete in the #atacamacrossing

This weekend it's training the mind and stomach. 30km days with about 2000 calories per day. No luxuries, no snacks. Probably harder here than in the desert with temptation all around but it's an important preparation point.

Since the completion of the 100km #racetothestones a strange phenomenon has occurred, it seems my belief in getting this race done is full to over flowing. Mental blockers have tumbled down and training is more enjoyable. Its no doubt to do with the amount of training but it's a great feeling that's enabling me to really enjoy the run up to the big week with RACINGTHEPLANET in Chile.

Anyway, rehydrated food and flapjacks are calling!

I'm doing all this for #mind for all those people who find themselves in dark and desolate places who occasionally and forever find themselves needing words that work.

Comments: Total (0) comments

30 May 2023 11:05 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

The business of running an ....
Ultramarathon - commitment, dedication, partnership, family, investment, pressure, uncertainty, late nights, early mornings, teamwork, preparation, vision, doubt, winning, failure, equipment, focus.

With four months to go until RACINGTHEPLANET 's #atacama crossing, the miles are increasing, time in trainers on the up and the focus on the finish line in sharp focus. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely more doable for more people that you'd think. Check out RACINGTHEPLANET to see where your feet could take you next year.

Life is for living, adventure fuels that living!

#business #investment #people #teamwork #commitment #adventure #run

Comments: Total (1) comments

Tanja Volm

Posted On: 09 Jul 2023 08:01 pm

Hi, I like your blog and looking forward meeting you in Chile. Not long..... Tanja

15 April 2023 11:15 am (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time: Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

PART 7: The Ask:

In today's world, with the everyday pressures and extraordinary global events affecting us all, most don’t get the help we need. Mind are here to change this.

The #AtacamaCrossing offers an opportunity to raise funds for an organisation who bring together an unstoppable network of individuals and communities, people who care about #mentalhealth to make a difference.

1 in 4 17-19 year olds had a probable mental health issue in 2022
75% of deaths by suicide are men. Men aged 40 – 49 have the highest rates of suicide in the EU
94% of people accessing emergency food parcels in 2022 experienced destitution (well below the poverty line and cannot afford the essentials to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean).

Mind... are here to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone. They provide #advice and #support to empower anyone experiencing a #mentalhealth problem and #campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

All #donations are welcomed with huge appreciation and #gratitude , in the knowledge that it will be dedicated to helping people when they most need it.

·     £8 will cover the cost of ONE call to MIND's info-line advice service
·     £20 will help run MIND's online peer support community for an hour
·     £50 will help campaign for better mental health services

#sponsorship benefits obviously include the #virtuous feeling of having done something tangible to impact the world right now but we want to give back something for your commitment.

Updates will be available across the JustGiving page as well as a dedicated Instagram with updates live from the desert (so you can share the pain) and a finish line photo (hopefully).

Please don’t be shy, if it helps, its going to hurt! #thankyouforyoursupport

#people #change #community RACINGTHEPLANET

Comments: Total (0) comments

01 April 2023 11:14 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Post 6: The Detail

Stage 1 - 36.6 km, Navigation by Rock will take competitors through the multicoloured Valle Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley) and along the Ancient Inca Road where there will be the opportunity to see ancient rock art from the Inca and Aymara traders who used this route in ancient times.

Stage 2 - 44.5 km, The Slot Canyons ensures that no feet are left dry, but takes competitors along the most stunning canyons of the course. Several breath-taking sand dunes allow for magnificent views across the plains with a chance to descend into the famous Valle de La Muerte (Valley of Death).

Stage 3 – 39 km, The Atacamenos Trail introduces competitors to the “Lonely Tree” before entering the restricted ALMA Project land. The ALMA Project is the most expensive ground-based telescope in operation in the world. Atacama Crossing competitors receive special permission to enter this restricted area each year.

Stage 4 – 44 km, The Infamous Salt Flats are both challenging and surreal.

Stage 5 – 76.5 km, The Long March will take competitors along the beautiful shores of a lake and across “Cordillera de La Sal” by “Paso Domingo Rames," climbing and descending challenging dunes, leading into the other worldly place called “La Valle de La Luna” (Valley of the Moon).

Stage 6 – 9.6 km, The Final Footsteps into San Pedro will lead competitors through the last kilometres with a fantastic finish in the ancient adobe-style Town of San Pedro de Atacama.

#dedication #purpose #wonder #adventure #explore #challenge #inspire #keeponlearning

Comments: Total (0) comments

28 March 2023 11:13 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Part 5: Added Motivation

I first saw someone write about their experience with RACINGTHEPLANET ten years ago here on #linkedin . It lodged in my brain as something amazing to do but the motivation just wasn’t there to sign up and pull on my trainers.

Now it's a different story. My #motivation is a family all growing up and stepping out into today's crazy world and just doing something to make it that bit easier for them, their friends and other young people.

So I asked them, what should we do this thing for? We circled back to two themes; #Sustainability and #mentalhealth

#climatechange is front of mind for all of them, even 3-year-old Dottie turns the lights off all over the house to save the polar bears.

Then #mentalhealth. The world in which my beautiful #teenagers are growing up is a tough place with forces, influences, competition and pressures few of us have the ability to cope with alone.

That’s enough for me. If this #challenge can impact just one person then its a job well done. But we shouldn’t be happy with one person. Together we can make the difference and help the next generation flourish. Force of Nature Mind

#sustainability #experience #help #purposedriven #wonder #community #whynot #nextgeneration

Comments: Total (0) comments

22 March 2023 11:12 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Part 4. Running, Eating, Mental Wealth

I love running. When I don’t run, then it’s pretty obvious I need to. It’s my go to stress buster. It’s my chance to work it out, to scream and shout or for quiet reflection surrounded by the great outdoors.
Now, running 250km doesn’t mean that I’m really stressed, in fact I’m now having to train my brain to deal with a new phenomenon, just being bored.
Running long distances is dull. This isn’t the London marathon. There’s no one playing a trumpet to celebrate your 16th mile or crowds lining the street. In fact for the vast majority of the time, you’re running on your own. Yes, I’ll be surrounded my stunning vistas but come on, it’ll be 90 degrees and 10,000 feet above sea level, how much appreciation can you give a volcano?
So far I’ve got over the boredom by training with earphones. But, earphones need charge, they don’t like sand and the problem is you program your feet to only work if they hear music. So no more earphones.
But oh how my brain is rebelling. It wanders around for the first hour, excited to be out but then gets bored during the second and then is just downright teenager like in the 3rd, 4th and 5th. Every ache gets accentuated, failure sits on your backpack, getting heavier by the mile and you mull over the smallest most insignificant things.
So now it's just about training my brain to enjoy the experience, to work through the time factors and just be OK with being switched on, aware and alive - it's not easy.
Mental health and wellness touches us all at some point in our lives. Some people can cope, many cannot and this is where @Mindcharity plays a vital role. Next time, I want to introduce the two charities that I’m running for and the work they do to help young people be all they can be.

#work #experience #people #mentalhealth #wellness #help #training #boredom #runningmotivation #motivation #chile #atacamacrossing #brainhealth #mensmentalhealthawareness

RACINGTHEPLANET Mind Force of Nature

Comments: Total (0) comments

15 March 2023 11:11 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Part 3: Life management

It's only now that you realise just how much you got to commit. 6 months to go and the nerves are settling in nicely. It's not just the dedication required to make sure you do the miles, its doing what you've always done with the kids, making sure date nights happen, keeping the intensity up at work and not wearing running gear in the house.

You got to commit to nutrition (chocolate/beer are my biggest issues), you got to work your diary hard and get up when everyone else is sleeping to be back in time for early morning madness.

Once you've signed up you gotta do your homework - how do I look after my feet? What socks are best? Where are the best hills to practice? How do I carry all this stuff as well as run? Where do I start? You gotta look for experience.

Speaking to people who've done these things is just amazing. Talking to the adventurers and explorers online and in person who've done it before you gives that encouragement you're looking for and those all important shortcuts that you're not gonna get anywhere else. (a snickers is still a snickers even if its totally melted - loved this bit of advice)

Believe me, like in everything, experience counts.

Part 4: A third running, a third nutrition, a third mental wealth

#experience #nutrition #businessandmanagement #adventure #commitmenttoexcellence #nutrition #atacamacrossing #Chile #prepping #ultramarathon RACINGTHEPLANET Force of Nature Mind

Comments: Total (0) comments

10 March 2023 11:08 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

Part 2: 'Sounds great but why?'

This is most people's response when they hear about the #atacamacrossing

Firstly, I never really thought about it like that. I didn't need a why, but if I'm pushed I suppose it's mostly driven by curiosity.

Can I do it? What will it feel like? Will my body hold up? How will the finish line feel? What will the desert throw at us all? Who will I meet? Who can I help?

You've got to be comfortable with the unknown. You've got to be willing to do what it takes. You need a team around you and the love and support of your family! All elements some of us actually have access to every day so perhaps it's more achievable than u might think.

Part 3 were gonna talk about the commitment needed and start talking about the preparation.

@racingtheplanet @forceofnature @mindcharity @hallpersonaltraining #running #preparation #mentalhealth #sustainability #ultramarathon #dedication #teamwork #mindfulness #team #help #fundraising

Comments: Total (0) comments

01 March 2023 11:06 am (GMT-12:00) International Date Line West

207 Days

That’s how long it is until I cross the start line in San Pedro De Atacama, in Chile’s Atacama desert. For the next 6 days I’ll be running, walking, climbing and falling my way across 250 kilometres of the worlds most arid landscape along with 120 other souls from 40 countries.
Across the next few weeks I’ll be chronicling what it takes to prepare for an Ultra marathon, the reliance on teamwork, your colleagues and family, the planning, the dedication and the mental impact of getting yourself in the right place to push yourself to new places.
Alongside this is the question Why. That’s where we’ll start next time. Feel free to jump in with questions, tips or comments – believe me, you appreciate all the help you can get.

#chile #atacama #dedication #teamwork #ultramarathon #preparation #mentalhealth #sustainability Force of Nature Mind

Comments: Total (0) comments