Eyal Shimoni's Namib Race 2021 Race Report
At the start line of the Namib Race 2021, the last two years went through one competitor’s mind – thinking back to early 2020 at the start of lockdown and how hanging on to running helped maintain insanity at such an uncertain time.
Eyal Shimoni, from Israel, first experienced a RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultramarathon at the Gobi March (Mongolia) in 2019 and, soon after this race, had his heart set on his next one being the Namib Race.
After April 2020’s Namib Race was cancelled, Eyal turned the month before the new race date into a mini project with his own goal so that his training still felt like it had purpose, should the race be postponed again. Eyal’s approach was a step in the right direction as the race was then postponed a further two times resulting in his very own marathons which he named ‘Rotate Roman Crater’ and ‘The Sanhedrin Trail’.
Eyal was race-ready having learned a lot from his previous experience in Mongolia - his race pack was 2kg lighter having invested in more advanced equipment and considered his nutritional plan of food and snacks even more.
After a focused day of getting used to the terrain, acknowledging the heat of the world’s oldest desert, and finessing the way his body moved and worked with his new backpack, Eyal reached camp and enjoyed his first evening meal watching the sunset.
Day two’s long stretch of climbing into the Moon Valley rewarded Eyal with some amazing views that made him feel like he was on another planet. A moment of reflection and respect to the racers who couldn’t be there was quickly followed by the daunting challenge of continuing in the furious temperatures.
True to the companionship and community of RacingThePlanet, Eyal even found the opportunity to look out for a fellow competitor who had gone slightly off track.
Throughout the third day, Eyal decided it was not the time to focus on pace and instead paid close attention to managing effort – a decision made during the morning briefing after hearing about the day’s temperatures being even hotter due to a lack of wind.
After some rest and food at the end of the day, Eyal took time to acknowledge the last competitor across the finish line – another example of the brilliant support that the RacingThePlanet community is built upon.
Eyal describes day four of the race as the friendliest day thanks to overhead protection from a layer of clouds and a gentle breeze. Eyal spent bursts of time throughout the day alongside others and even crossed the finish line with another competitor.
A realisation hit Eyal while he was calculating his finish times for each day. After looking back at the previous days and considering the Long March (68km) was starting the next morning, he discovered that it might just be possible to complete the entire race in under 50 hours!
Starting the Long March, Eyal knew he would be finishing in the dark – a constant reminder of the challenge ahead. For now, the 50-hour goal was supressed as a little dream, so he didn’t make mistakes or push too hard into exhaustion.
Eyal stopped for some much-needed rest just over halfway through the Long March but, with every minute making a difference, he had to finely balance the much-needed flash of rest with keeping momentum up – that 50-hour goal creeping back to the forefront of his mind.
The air of the Atlantic coast carried smells of the ocean over the deep purple sand as Eyal approached the finish line. A greeting of celebration, smiles, pizzas, beers and the introduction to Mabasa’s family.
Mabasa’s journey was 5 years in the making, a story Eyal got to know very well during the Namib Race 2021. You can read more about Mabasa’s adventure in this recent race report ‘Mabasa Finish Mubatapasango – 5 Years In The Making’.
In Eyal Shimoni’s blog post of the Namib Race 2021 you can find out about his favourite moments, the people he met, what’s next, and learn about the charities he continues to support – Eyal Shimoni: Great Race, Amazing People.
If Eyal’s story of the Namib Race 2021 has inspired you to take on a new challenge, or conquer a personal best, you can sign up to take part in a RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon.