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Rose Anne Hawkeswood
The Finish

25 June 2022 03:09 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

I made it. Woohoo! 

The final stage was just 10km downhill along a winding dirt road. My pack was significantly lighter, with all consumables either eaten/used or tossed away.

I've been struggling with a sore achilles tendon since day 2, and a sore shin on the other leg since day 4. But with the end in sight,  I managed to ignore the discomfort and make it to the finish in under an hour. (It also helped that I had someone trying to overtake me and I couldn't let that happen!).

I have a huge smile on my face now.

It's been an incredible experience. I felt it was over almost before it had begun. And in many ways it was much easier than I anticipated. 

For me the worst part of the experience was sleeping dirty. I was also really cold at times and and  running through mud every day was a bit tedious. But even that wasn't  too bad, as I was mentally prepared for pretty much anything. 

 

The best part of the experience was the comeraderie amongst the runners. By and large, trail runners are an encouraging and  supportive bunch, and there is nothing like sharing the highs and the lows of a tough adventure to bring people together.

It was also so inspiring to hear about some of the amazing and incredibly tough events that many of the racers have done or are preparing to do. I am in awe of them and their extraordinary achievements. 

But now that I know that I too can manage a pretty tough race, I am already dreaming about my next event. 

Next time, my pack will be a little lighter when I start though!

Before I end this little blog for the final time, here's my last request for you to make a donation to Good Return to help fight poverty. The link to my fundraising page is https://goodreturn.raisely.com/rose-anne-hawkeswoodhttps://goodreturn.raisely.com/rose-anne-hawkeswood

And thank you to those of you that have already made a donation or a loan. 

And now a final goodbye from my Georgian adventure. 

Comments: Total (2) comments

Gail Cowan

Posted On: 26 Jun 2022 04:01 am

Rose Anne, it has been amazing reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to report in each night. Congratulations on finishing - with a smile - which would have been difficult to maintain but you seem to achieve even that!! Some of the experiences you documented were incredible to go through. Well done. Look forward to seeing you back home.

Gail Cowan

Posted On: 26 Jun 2022 04:01 am

Rose Anne, it has been amazing reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to report in each night. Congratulations on finishing - with a smile - which would have been difficult to maintain but you seem to achieve even that!! Some of the experiences you documented were incredible to go through. Well done. Look forward to seeing you back home.
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
The Long March

24 June 2022 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

It was a great day with a bit of everything: a long climb up around 590 m over 12 km, a long downhill, lots of fields, and lots of flat road.

It was cold and misty at the top of the hill, but the day warmed up and it was particularly pleasant when the sun peeped through the clouds occasionally.

I felt pretty good up to check point 4, around 40 km in. I was mostly walking and enjoying the scenery and the beautiful fields of wildflowers. At checkpoint 4 we were given a treat: a can of coke. Ahh, the small pleasures in life!

After checkpoint 4 the trail followed a railway line for a while and then some relatively flat country roads. The going should have been easy (good for real runners), but the last 25km seemed to last for ever. My goal was to get in before dark and I managed to do some running, but mostly it felt like a slog. About 5km before the finish line the heavens opened and I got drenched – and very cold.

It was great to get into camp. A very kind front runner organized a warm footbath for me to help me warm up. What a treat. Clean feet and legs. And then straight to bed in my double sleeping bag to warm up.

65km, just over 12 hours and a much lighter pack (probably around 9-10kg). Still smiling (the smile may have waivered just a tad in the last 12 km). But big smile now. Only 10 km to go, although that only happens tomorrow. Today we have spent the day lounging around the camp.

The sun shone for most of the day and it was nice to socialize with the other runners.

Apparently there is a little surprise for us in the next 15 minutes. We suspect some food to celebrate two birthdays. Real food! Hope so!

Final blog after the end of the race tomorrow.

Ciao

Comments: Total (0) comments

Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Villages. And mud.

22 June 2022 09:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

It bucketed down with rain last night and there was even some hail. Our tent luckily remained dry, but some people had a bit of a wet night, I believe.
 
It wasn't raining when we started, and I kept my shoes in the tent overnight so I even got to put on dry shoes. What a treat! But it didn't last long. Within minutes of the start we were running through mud and puddles, and of course my shoes and socks were saturated again and my legs were splattered with black mud. The rain also started  again about 20 minutes into the run and it was pretty wet and cold for about 30 minutes. But not too bad after that. 
 
There weren't any major hills and the trail was fairly easy for most of the day. We went through quite a few small villages. I doubt the people see many tourists in this part of the country, and the villagers were very friendly and welcoming. One child was holding up a platter of apricots to the runners when I ran past. Apparently my fellow runner was offered a plate of bread.  They refused to take money,  though clearly money is in short supply in rural Georgia.
 
I am fatigued and decided to walk the whole day and save my legs for the big day tomorrow.  It was nice to walk at the back and get to chat to some of the other runners.
 
Tonight we are sleeping in a village hall because it is raining again. One large hall with a concrete floor, so might be cool. But it will be nice to sleep on a level floor. There is no privacy however, and apparently the toilets are more gruesome than the ones in our previous camps.  I haven't checked them out yet.
 
So today's walk was just under 40km. It took me just under 7.5 hours. I think my pack weight now is about 10 kg when it's not wet. Some runners would now be carrying about 4 or 5kg. My shoulders are envious!
 
But still smiling! The big one is tomorrow. 70km. 
 
 

Comments: Total (4) comments

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 06:48 pm

Wow, that was quite something but you took the long march in your stride. Hope your Achilles isn't giving you grief. Keep it up, one last push, we're rooting for you!

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 07:22 am

So impressed with your progress and determination. Keep it up! Love from Mom & J

Brett Hawkeswood

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 06:58 am

Good luck for the big day

Michelle Lefevre

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 12:57 am

Thanks for the updates Roseanne. You are doing sooooo well 🌟🌟
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Sun

22 June 2022 12:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Sun

It was freezing last night and the wind howled. The sloping tent floor and the buffeting sides hitting me didn't make for a good sleep. After a couple of hours of shuteye, it was time to pack up  and get ready for marathon number 3. 
 
It was wet and still freezing, so most people listened to the race briefing from the tents. But we finally braved the chill at the start line and set off - without quite as much enthusiasm as we did the last two days.
 
But actually, within an hour the sun peeped through the clouds and it started to warm up. The going was fairly easy, with most of the day on a dirt road with reasonably warm weather. The one hard section was a big 10 km steady climb to around 2400 m altitude. But we got to run down the other side of the hill too. 
 
The good news was there was no mud and my shoes dried out eventually. The first time they have been dry since Saturday! I have spent the day fantasizing about putting on dry shoes tomorrow.
 
Got into camp about 6.5 hours after the start and it looked like we might get to finally enjoy a bit of relaxing in the sun. It was not to be - within about 40 minutes the wind had risen to a howling gale again and the clouds had moved in. It is about to rain heavily, apparently. So much for dry shoes!
 
I'm feeling ok but very fatigued, as you would expect. My achilles tendon has become a bit inflamed, which is not so comfortable. But otherwise holding up.
 
Today was 40km, just over 6.5 hours and around 11 kg on my back. still smiling!
 
Ciao for today.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Karen Alcock

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 12:07 pm

Wow., Rose Anne Just catching up on your blog. What an adventure, such beautiful scenary and what a wonder woman. Go Rose Anne!

J Groves

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 11:55 am

Well done, still holding your own nicely. Keep it up, superstar. Good to see a marathon update on the web at last and also your new blog entry (and the others' blog entries too - I am a fan of all the racers!) Hope your Achilles holds out without more damage.
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Mud mud glorious mud

20 June 2022 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Today was and easier track overall, although The first 25 km were reasonably flat and I could run (shuffle) most of it. A lot of the track was over fields with some amazing wildflowers. The ground was a bit treacherous on the fields because it was hard to see the humps and holes under the long grass. 
 
There was also a lot of mud (there was a lot of mud yesterday, too, but the mist was more interesting to write about). Not only is the mud stinky and dirty, but it is slippery on the down hills,  and great clods of mud kept getting stuck to the bottom of my shoes, which made them very heavy.  
 
At one point I had to cross a black, muddy puddle. It looked very shallow, but on my third step my leg disappeared up to my hip. So I had ( sticky muddy wet thighs and shorts in addition to stinky muddy wet calves and shoes. The mud doesn't come off properly either. Would need a good scrub in a shower - a luxury we don't get. The wet wipe wash just doesn't cut it, so I get to sleep  with a leg mud mask. 
 
From about 25 km in my legs started feeling pretty wooden and slowed down dramatically. I think I just got slower and slower for the rest of the day, particularly as the trail started to climb into the lower Caucasus Mountains, following the ancient silk route. It wasn't as steep as yesterday, but it was still tiring. And it got cold and windy as we ascended.
 
The scenery has been spectacular and quite varied. Field, villages, forests and hiills. Right now we are camped in a natural bowl with a nearby peak that appears to have snow drifts still on its slopes. There is a large lake in the other direction. The  wind is blasting mind you, and it's chilly (any strange words in the blog are likely due to the fact that I have shivering as I write).
 
Well, two marathons down and two to go. Then the long one.
 
Today I ran/walked 45 km in 8.5 hours with ~12 kg on my back. Still smiling!
 
Next update tomorrow night.

Comments: Total (7) comments

Betsy Rogers

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 01:32 am

Wow! What an adventure. Keep up the strong legs and work. You got this. What beautiful pictures too. Your strength is deep.

Betsy Rogers

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 01:32 am

Wow! What an adventure. Keep up the strong legs and work. You got this. What beautiful pictures too. Your strength is deep.

Claudia Niessing

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 08:04 am

Amazing Rose Anne!! The scenery sounds fantastic and hopefully makes up for the mud bath. Great to read your blog.

Michelle Lefevre

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 09:43 pm

Hooray Roseanne 🤸🏻‍♀️🤸🏻‍♀️. Day 2 done and dusted and a free mud mask to boot. Looks and sounds stunning 🤩… i know where i would rather be right now…

Brett Hawkeswood

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 07:45 pm

Keep it up you are doing so well. Don't know about that mud though

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 06:24 pm

Hooray Rose-Anne, you're doing so well!

lex groves

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 06:15 pm

Amazing! You are awesome for doing this. Are we going for a hike afterwards when you get here?
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Lost in the mist

19 June 2022 08:00 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Day 1 of the race finally arrived and it was a bit more of an adventure than we had anticipated. with more than half the racers getting lost in the mist within the first 8 km of the race.
 
The morning started early in our tent, with all of us waking at about 5 am after a fitful sleep on a muddy mogully campground, We spent an hour packing and repacking our packs. Again. Then the race briefing. And finally it was time for the start. Yay! The moment was finally here for me.
 
It started out as a scenic but wet and muddy run across undulating fields. At one point a pack of large sheep dogs that looked and sounded quite ferocious escorted me away from the nearby flock of sheep. We had been warned multiple times about the dogs being not so friendly (in fact they recommended brining a dog repellent), so I was keen to move along quickly.
 
The mist thickened and it became increasingly difficult to to see other runners or the trail markers, It didn't help that some of the markers had been trampled in the mud and there seemed to be bigger gaps between them. So I didn't worry when I hadn't seen one for a while., But I wasn't feeling comfortable being alone in the mist so I decided to pick up the pace to catch up to the runners, that I knew were not far ahead. Just as I did so, there seemed to be a bit of a commotion, with people returning along the track saying they still hadn't seen a marker. Then there was lots of garbled shouting and whistling between various groups that all seemed to be spread across the fields. Turns out everyone was having the same problem with finding the trail markers, and people had all taken different wrong routes. The shouting was apparently everyone asking everyone whether anyone had seen a flag. 
 
Eventually we all converged and debated the best course of action. The rule is to return to the last flag, but there was disagreement about where that was. It was wet and cold and we decided it was best to stay together. We periodically whistled to let any other lost souls know they weren't alone. Someone called the emergency number and we were told someone would come and rescue us. We got the GPS cooridinates for the checkpoint and navigated to the checkpoint, staying together for safety.
 
We didn't find the most direct route, and it did unfortunately add about 8 km and 3 hours to the day. But we did go through a very scenic forest, which was also significanly warmer. In fact, the day warmed up after that and the rain and mist lifted, so we were decidedly less uncomfortable. 
 
The rest of the day went as planned, but it was pretty brutal. There was a very mean steep burn-your-calf uphill that went on for a good 8 km. Lots of beautifiul wildflowers and very scenic in a quite diffierent way from the fields in the mist.
 
Finally made it to camp 2 just after 7pm. 11 hours and 45 km. 13 kg on my back. But still smiling.
 
It's pretty nippy sitting here typing, so time to check out. and get to bed.
 
 Bye world!
 

Comments: Total (8) comments

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 04:54 pm

We're following your progress with awe. Relieved that you escaped from the mist, though until we read your blog we were feeling sorry for all those runners up front who had lost so much time and we were so happy that you weren't one of them... then we read your blog... (:o Love and strength to you from us.

Kirsten Summers

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 02:15 pm

Well done Rose-Anne! So glad you all found each other. Can’t wait to read about stage 2. :)

Michael Groves

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 10:25 am

Wow, what a first day! Hope you rested well, good luck for the next stage!

Michelle Lefevre

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 01:47 am

What a tough start!! Tomorrow will sooooo much easier 😊. Well done 🌟🌟

Arthur Azevedo

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 12:06 am

Rose-Anne! What a challenging first day. Actually, challenging day! congratulations for overcoming it. It shows your strength and endurance capability. Carry on!!!

Justine Christie

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 09:39 pm

Well done Rose-Anne. Sounds like an adventurous and tough start. Will look forward to hearing how the rest of it goes. :)

Justine Christie

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 09:39 pm

Well done Rose-Anne. Sounds like an adventurous and tough start. Will look forward to hearing how the rest of it goes. :)

Brett Hawkeswood

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 06:41 pm

That sounds really tough and well done. All our love from Sydney. Sleep well and recharge
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
The day before

18 June 2022 10:43 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

We have registered and had our gear thoroughly checked to make sure we have all the mandatory equipment. The guy who weighed my bag told me it's not the heaviest. Hmm. Close perhaps.

Now about to head out to the race camp at Algeti National Park.

Only about 42 competitors. Looks like a lot of serious runners and I hear rumours of a "fast race". I'm wondering where the other "back of the packers" are. Hope there are some slow coaches like me. Otherwise I guess I'll just bring up the rear on my own?

Next update at the end of day 1 (assuming I survive).

Before I clock out for the day, in case you've not read my previous posts, I am taking the opportunity to raise funds for a not for profit organisation called Good Return.

Good Return started in 2003 and aims to end the cycle of poverty through economic empowerment. Good Return has already had a significant impact on the lives of people living in poverty and has provided financial skills training to 50,000 people, creating flow on benefits to 200,000 people. 

You can see more of Good Return's great work by watching this video: https://vimeo.com/349801152

Please consider making a donation to Good Return through my fundraising link. Together we can help to transform the lives of people living in poverty.

Simply click on the link below to view my fundraising page and make a donation.

https://goodreturn.raisely.com/rose-anne-hawkeswood

Or you can lend money directly through the Good Return web platform to someone like Chum Chhueng of Cambodia to help her restock her grocery business and grow her income. To do that, use this link: https://goodreturn.org.au/how-it-works

Thanks for your support. 

Comments: Total (5) comments

J Groves

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 04:15 pm

I am following this avidly. You are indeed warriors.

Arthur Azevedo

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 01:10 pm

Hi Rose Anne ... We don't know each other. I have done the last Nanib Race and Atacama and Gobi a few years ago. I am the classic "back of the pack" guy. But always enjoying the course, doing my best and making great friends in this amazing Racing the Planet community. I have a few over there with you. So, I wish the best of luck for you. Focus on your journey and listen to yourself. I am sure you have all the resources to manage your race physically, mentally and emotionally. One control point at a time. That's my motto!

Michelle Lefevre

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 09:02 pm

Roseanne good luck my friend. You are inspirational and I have loved doing some of the easy training sessions with you. It already looks like an incredible adventure so far. Enjoy you super star 🌟 . Nice photo btw.

Brett Hawkeswood

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 11:25 am

Good luck my love

Lyndsay Brown

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 09:50 am

Hi Rose-Anne, we are so proud of you! Good luck and hope it’s fun in lots of ways despite/because of the challenges 😊🤩♥️
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Georgia

16 June 2022 06:45 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

I arrived in Georgia last Friday and have spent a wonderful few days exploring this beautiful country with some fellow racers.

We have visited some very ancient churches and monasteries, walked in the Greater Caucasus mountains, watched the ballet, walked and walked the streets of Tbilisi, and eaten delicious food. 

The wine tasting tour didn't quite work out as planned. An awfully long drive to somewhere that didn't have a vineyard. Or even much wine. But we did get a sumptuous Georgian meal.  

Today was preparation day. Again. I reckon if I add up all the hours I have spent packing and repacking it might be nearly as many as I will spend on the course.

I have reduced my food and I am now down to about 4kg of food.  But the pack still weighs 10.7 kg without water. Ouch.

Day one has a long long long uphill, and the weather has been been hot and humid (30-34 deg) on the lowlands. I expect that won't change on Sunday. Will be a tough day with maximum weight. I'm scared!

On the other hand, the weather is likely to be wet and cold in the mountains during the week, so RTP introduced a new requirement a couple of days ago: waterproof pants. I bought some a while back specifically for the event but I left them in Sydney as they weren't mandatory. Consequently, I spent today trying to find some more. But no luck. Not sure what will happen at gear check in. Hopefully they will be reasonable given last minute rule change. 

Other than that little stress, I'm getting excited. It's starting to feel real. Tomorrow we move to the race hotel and register. On Saturday we have a gear check and then head to the race camp for the night before our race start on Sunday. 

 

Comments: Total (3) comments

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 04:33 pm

Bank is seeing things my way at last.

J & Mom Groves

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 07:51 am

Pledged A$350 from us two for the Good Return charity drive. Though my sweet bank thinks this is just madness and declines the transaction!

Sam Fanshawe

Posted On: 17 Jun 2022 08:56 am

Glad to hear you arrived safely and have had a chance to explore more of Georgia (including the food!) and also that you met some other racers. Sounds like you've been having a great time. Fingers crossed re the weather next week but what will be will be and will add to the stories!
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Charity

08 June 2022 08:10 am (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

I've decided to take the opportunity to see if I can do some good while doing this event.

I will be raising money for Good Return, a not for profit organisation that seeks to break the cycle of poverty through economic empowerment. Good Return gives people living in the lowest poverty brackets the financial capability to help themselves to become financially independent by facilitating access to responsible loans and financial education and business skills. 

I'd love you to make a donation to Good Return through my donations page here https://goodreturn.raisely.com/rose-anne-hawkeswood

Alternatively, you can make a loan directly through the Good Return platform to help fund someone trying to start a small business (such as a market stall, basket weaving, farming etc). These are people with limited means and no collateral, who would be unlikely to be able to access funds through traditional lending channels. 

When the loan is paid off, you can take the money out again - or you can reinvest it in another entrepreneur. 

You can read about these people and how they plan to help themselves out of poverty and make a loan here  https://grloans.secure.force.com/MicroFinanceLoans#!/home

Thank you.

Comments: Total (2) comments

Sandy Groves

Posted On: 14 Jun 2022 01:36 pm

Rose-Anne, you are one crazy and very inspirational individual!!! Going to love watching your progress and if it were me, I'd hang onto the sleep mat. ;-) Lots of love & best of luck. x

Mary Gadams

Posted On: 08 Jun 2022 08:45 am

Hi Rose Anne, looks like you are running for a great cause. Safe travels to Georgia, and see you soon. Mary
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Packing

06 June 2022 08:46 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Did a test pack on the weekend. Sad to say my gear did not all fit into my running backpack and I shall have to discard some items. 

The good news about this is that my pack is way too heavy anyway, so it would be good to reduce weight. The bad news is it's difficult to know what to remove. Apart from some extra food, the only 'luxuries' I have (items not on the mandatory list of gear) are a thin 3/4 sleeping mat (a little something between me and the hard, cold tent floor); a spare T-shirt and a fresh pair of socks and undies for every day (the idea of running and sleeping in the same set of clothes for the whole week is very unappealing); toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste and some extra meds; and my phone.

Here's what it looks like:

Luxury items

We have to have a minimum of 14,000 calories of food. I currently have around 17,000. About half of that is made up of electrolyte powders, gels, bars, nuts and biltong - stuff I can eat on the go. There will be hot water in camp, but no cooking facilities, so for breakfast I've made up packages of pronutro and oats with seeds (just add cold water), and for dinner I've bought dehydrated meals (just add hot water). 

An altogether unappetising menu! And it weights about 4.5 kg.

Food

In addition to the optional extra kit, for the mandatory items, rather than something minimalist, I have elected to take a thicker puffer jacket and a decent sleeping bag to ward off the cold in camp. I will pay for this with a heavier pack.  Not only do the items weigh more, but they take up more room and I've had to get a bigger pack, which weighs about twice what some of the smaller packs weigh.

Mandatory gear shown below (toilet paper not technically mandatory):

Mandatory Gear

Currently my packed weight without water is about 11 kg.  It hurts just thinking about it!

Comments: Total (1) comments

Karen Neubrandt

Posted On: 11 Jun 2022 11:29 pm

I am laughing, not at your predicament, but because I recognise some delicious South African staples on your menu. I am sure you will sort it all out once you are in Georgia. Take care, and enjoy your race (and your sleep). I hope you don't mind me following (aka stalking) your race progress. All the best, have fun and don't get hurt (Rob Ripley, 2022) Karen
Rose Anne Hawkeswood
Getting Ready

03 June 2022 07:36 pm (GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Yay! I'm on the final countdown to the start of the race and I'm starting to feel that I might actually make it to the start line. 

I've been wanting to do one of the Racing the Planet multi stage events since I first heard of them more than 10 years ago. It's always felt like more of an aspirational goal than a real possibility because of kids, and the cost, and well, you know...the bit about running 250km. With a pack.

But I finally signed up for my first multi stage in 2020. Not a Racing the Planet event, but a similar event in New Zealand. Without a pack, which seemed a bit more manageable.

Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to COVID. And then cancelled again (at least for internationals) in 2021.  

So Georgia it is. With a pack. And mountains. Yikes!!!

Can't wait.

 

Comments: Total (1) comments

Gail Cowan

Posted On: 12 Jun 2022 07:35 am

We are in awe at the thought! Will enjoy reading your blog. Go well.