RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon Blogs 2021

View All Posts 2021 From : Brian Lang

Brian Lang
10th Century Fort near 2700M to 12th Century Bridge near 1200M

20 August 2021 06:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Alright, alright, alright- best day of the trek for me. After leaving our Russian turned Armenian village by the lake we started marching up through beautiful green and gold hills which we kept on until we hit stage 3 and looked straight up. About 10 mins in Pat was back in the co-pilot seat with me and I enjoyed his company until we hit the much anticipated “most difficult” stage.

 

This is the toughest and most rewarding stage I think I’ve ever experienced. We climb over 5000 feet in 6K and dropped about the same amount on the other side. Waiting near the top of the ascent, over boulders and huge tuffs of grassy dirt was the frame of a historic fort from the Ottoman Empire and a view from the top of Georgia. And as we crossed the mountain range we were met by farmers cutting the hay which smelled so sweet and watching them wield a scythe motivated us downhill for the next few kms.

 

We then headed into more rocky terrain and across swathes of farmland with sections of muck that required thoughtful navigation.

 

The 4th checkpoint sat on the rim of canyon that seemingly sprung out of the ground recently with a surging river below and very young and lush green riverbanks. Just before arriving at the checkpoint I had my most enjoyable altercation with a herd of sheep which  attempted to navigate on a very narrow street leading to a 12th Century bridge in a historically quant village- needless to say I received a couple of Georgian expletives from the herder.

 

By the 5th checkpoint I was ready for a bowl of noodles and we were surprisingly offered a coke that could be in the top 5 coke quenches of all-time. Rolling farmlands, running alongside train tracks and a little more roadway (where I was offered lifts by the locals twice- completely bewildered expressions met my refusal and thanks) was all that was left to get me to amble with pace to the finish before dark and way ahead of my expected time closer to midnight. I’ve left out the rain, thunder and lightning that we enjoyed the last 4 hours as it was all part of the course and once you climb into your tent you put the wetness and muck in the rear view mirror.

 

Although the night brought little sleep the view that we woke up to was spectacular. We are in a village on the edge of a significant canyon- our site is called Plateau above Vardzia. The sun has burned off the early fog and we’ve checked out a 12th century church and spent time at the edge of the canyon where we can see our trek ahead of us tomorrow. So much fun laughing and hanging out with a really unique group of individuals that have shared a very compelling life event, together. I look forward to sharing my adventures with family, have loved all the words of support from my life partner AR, and friends, special call out to Mr Dipede who couldn’t join but kept a good eye on me from afar, and anyone else interested in infected, blistered toes (yes I’m on antibiotics), nose-holding freeze-dried meals and life-changing moments. PS Auntie Gwynne, will have great feet pictures to share ;-)

 

We’ll be finishing in front of what I understand are 12th Century BC caves which will complete another journey to the outer limits of body and mind. Signing off from Georgia 2021.

 

Comments: Total (4) comments

Ryan Dipede

Posted On: 21 Aug 2021 03:46 pm

Sounds like just another day :) It goes without saying I have great respect and admiration for you and and so happy you successfully completed another monumental race. Looking forward to celebrating the achievement with you in more hospitable climates. Travel safely buddy and enjoy the hot shower that awaits you imminently. Love RD

Debbie Pearmain

Posted On: 21 Aug 2021 04:32 am

So amazing and inspiring! Have loved cheering you on and so proud of you!!! Love xo Debbie

Kyra Lang

Posted On: 20 Aug 2021 08:34 pm

Go dad!!!!!!!!!! We love and miss you so much! So proud of you:))))

Daphne Randall

Posted On: 20 Aug 2021 03:59 pm

Way to go, Brian! Very proud of you!
Brian Lang
Magic at the Top of the Mountains

18 August 2021 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Woke up to blue sky, very light winds and a 1300 meter climb in the first 20K- this day is almost as anticipated as the long march because everyone knows they need to survive today to have a shot the next day.

 

The little village was glowing in the early morning light as we passed over river bridge crossings and started our upward climb.The climb was beautiful- through golden grass fields and along a majestic mountain line. Well above any tree line you could see forever.

 

As usual we had a shepherds and cattle hands to deal with as I’m pretty sure some of them were having fun guiding their herds across our route but it only made for a hilarious diversion.

 

Spent almost all day with Pat as we seem to move at the same pace and he has no problem keeping up his end of a good conversation. We shared many stories and then, on the steep climbs, it was clear that silence would prevail ;-)

 

After the peak it was mostly downhill past some cool small bodies of water, including a trout pond, and we ended the day in a quant little village with local children banging the drums and cheering us on- fantastic smiles and even a cartwheel.

 

We then were transported back to lakeside tents just outside an Armenian village. We had a character of a driver who gave us the history of little towns as we cruised through and this part of the country is heavily Armenian and Turkish influenced.

 

Back is hanging in there, knee is well taped, left toes are a train wreck- one day left so spirits are high. Appreciate kinds words and missing AR and kids and RD.

 

Comments: Total (2) comments

Cheering Squad

Posted On: 19 Aug 2021 01:04 am

Hey, by the time you read this you will have finished the Long March. Wow, must feel like a dream to have that behind you. Thought I'd let you know that I had a long chat with Mike and Gwyne tonight who are following your every step, many others also cheering you on. Sleep well. Eat well. Hope your body is in relatively one piece. Have loved seeing you with your walking buddy looking chipper and goofy. Tell him thanks for keeping your spirits up and your mind occupied. One final, tiny stage and you are DONE! So proud of you for commitment to get this done through a challenging year. Can't wait to chat live. Lots of love, your forever Cheering Squad

Ryan Dipede

Posted On: 19 Aug 2021 12:19 am

What ad Great Day 4! So glad the back is hanging in for you. Will be following you all day tomorrow over the long March. The end is near and I’m glad to hear your spirits are high. Wishing a successful and memorable day. Missing being there with you but still celebrating for you. Onwards!
Brian Lang
Stage 3- The Georgian Desert

17 August 2021 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Woke up in the rain and wind and started with all our clothes on, rain jackets and poncho. We headed toward blue sky shining off a beautiful lake and once there the rain let up. However the wind didn’t let up and it was quite cold through the first few stages.

 

After passing by the lake and a village that seemed to roll into the water we started headed up a brown desolate valley. This was the start of 30K until I saw another tree. Huge expansive mountains which we started climbing up to spectacular peaks where you could see forever.

 

Spent very humorous parts of the day negotiating sheep or cattle herders whose animals were making their way across the route heading up or down to range.

 

Last 5K were a real treat as we made our way along an evergreen forest, through a vibrant village and then out onto farmlands and to the camp which was basking in the sun. That said, we can’t escape the wind which keeps it very cool and serenades us to sleep blowing through and elevating the tents.

 

Really nice hour walking with fellow Canadian, Patrick, who’s now resident in Turks. Wonderfully engaging guy who’s had a neat life from Guyana to Scarborough to NY and now to Turks.

 

We have the best tent groups around us. Isabelle from France an Simone from Luxemburg are top 2 women and on the other side are the Swiss, Christoph who’s in the top 3 and his wife Iris who I walked with for a small chunk of time today talking ice cream and other important items we wishfully hoped were waiting for us at the finish line.

 

 

Comments: Total (1) comments

Betty Boop

Posted On: 17 Aug 2021 08:00 pm

Congratulations on another fabulous day. Your spirits sound high and no foot comments...must be a good thing! Taking Fi & Pete's son out for dinner with the girls, his first true evening in Canada. We will order some ice cream for you and toast your return. Lots of love. xo Betty
Brian Lang
Big Open Georgian Plains

16 August 2021 08:00 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

Wonderful night last night watching the local kids play soccer and a game much like murder ball, which the adults took great delight in joining and taking down many young ones with high-pitched laughs.

 

Cool sunrise this morning with an orange orb ascending into a very dark grey sky which was a good symbol for the day- at times beautiful and sunny and at times incredibly windy squalls. I used my poncho for the first time in a 4 deserts which I had brought to Gobi in 2010. Started with a fair number of water crossings filling shoes and soaking socks. Beautiful run along a big lake with evergreens patches of forest sheltering us from the rain. Highlight today was trudging through villages with roads of deep mud and kids smiling and cheering us on from their horses. We spent much of the last 2 stages trudging up hills with men uses scythes to cut down tall grasses and women picking mushrooms. Tremendous passages through very open plateaus surrounded by moody mountains that provided plenty of thunderous ceremonies, along with short dumps of rain.

 

Feet management at the last checkpoint as had to pop some blisters courtesy of 6 hours in wet shoes. This was followed by very historic march up and then down parts of the silk trail- shared the road with a huge flock of sheep as well as a group of ordinary cows. It was a long 2 hours for the last 10K but campsite was the reward in a forum of rock hills.

 

Signing off from Day 2

 

Comments: Total (3) comments

Mama Bear

Posted On: 17 Aug 2021 02:57 am

Blogs! 2 of them! Just found these beautiful descriptions of your first few days. So great to hear your poetic voice capturing the little details of your days. We are following your progress through the race highlights, the photos and the videos. Looks like stunning scenery, more than the usual interaction with locals and an intimate group in the race - just your kind of gathering. Sending you lots of love and wind at your back. And of course TLC for those hard-working feet. Tom O'B can't wait to hear more toenail drill stories. xoxo Me, your two eldest girls, the furry girls and the crazy cat (Got a letter from T: he'd want you to know he's having a blast, is now out on a 6-day trip, and got picked #1 in the PHL draft ;-)

Amy Ingalls

Posted On: 17 Aug 2021 02:24 am

Thanks again, Brian for your amazing description of Stage 2, put here after an all effort day! Best wishes for Stage 3!!

Ryan Dipede

Posted On: 16 Aug 2021 08:50 pm

Another great day in Day 2! Hope you can manage to keep the blisters in check. Thinking of you buddy and wishing you a good night’s sleep! - Ryan
Brian Lang
Stairs to Heaven in the Algeti National Park

15 August 2021 08:00 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius

The first couple of days at the first camp were a bit nerve-wracking- wind, rain, hail and lightning like I haven’t seen or heard in a long time. Perched on plateau sitting atop a spectacular valley, there was plenty of time to meet the majority of the smaller than usual field (believe we are approx. 60 from original list of 200+) and swap our journeys to Georgia. My tent mate is Alex, who is a veteran of both these events as well as Iraq and Afghanistan with the US Army. Spent our first day in camp trading stories- great guy. In lucky tent 13 we were surrounded by some great people- Patrick, Simone, Sunny, Christian, Martha, Karen (CAN), to name just a few, while also surrounded by mountains sheep and very protective sheep dogs who also worked the graveyard shift (-;

 

We went to sleep last night after our camp briefing which included a warning of rain on our first day and held on as more rain and high winds serenaded us to a restless sleep of anticipation.

 

Sun rose over the hills this morning with some light clouds and began to warm us up for a fantastic rain-free day. First stage was spectacular as we descended into Algeti National Park which meant tree covered animal paths and some solid mud sliding. Section 2 was straight back-up almost 1000 meters through garden covered terrain which required serious lung work (and quads). Exited the forest through the second checkpoint, which won most enthusiastic in a tie with the third checkpoint who were dancing and cheering with impressive enthusiasm.

 

Really neat stage walking through a small village, dodging protective packs of dogs and then a couple of undisclosed water crossings which were moving from the recent rains and an uphill to a cool campsite on the edge of a tiny town.

 

Looking forward to a mac cheese dinner and tackling tomorrow’s hills.

 

 

Comments: Total (2) comments

Amy Ingalls

Posted On: 16 Aug 2021 03:04 am

Congrats on your Stage 1! I agree with Ryan - your descriptions put us there! Best wishes for Stage 2!

Ryan Dipede

Posted On: 15 Aug 2021 06:06 pm

Fantastic first stage - loved your narrative - can picture you sliding and trudging through the trails. Thinking of you and sending you strength and encouragement from the Motherland! Onwards and upwards (but hopefully not too much of an incline ;)). At least each day the pack gets a little lighter. Ryan