Gobi March Blogs 2019

Ashley Burke
The enormity that is the Mongolian Steppe

28 July 2019 09:00 pm (GMT+08:00) Irkutsk, Ulaan Bataar

Dear all,

Today was my first experience of the enormity that is the Mongolian Steppe. Even as an Australian it is hard to grasp the vastness of the landscape. Green treeless expanse, wide valleys, nameless peaks and ridges. Running 250km in this landscape is like standing still, so immense is the scale of this place it is as if the very concepts of distance and time are meaningless. There are no fences. You could run an infinite distance and yet not move.

Although at 36km this was meant to be an easy day, I found it exhausting. The head cold that I picked up a couple of days before leaving Australia broke only yesterday and maybe this was not long enough. Another factor was  the approx. 10kg weight that I am carrying, it has already given me very sore shoulders. Another factor is that I started out too fast too early, setting off at a nice trot and keeping pace for the first 11km with another runner from Spain. But soon after checkpoint 1 I realised my pace was not sustainable and I was forced to settle back and walk large sections.

The route eventually climbed onto a high ridge that we followed for a way, and the views of horizon to horizon green was incredible, as if the whole planet were nothing but this colossal openness. Then it descended off the ridge and struck out across a plain and you could see the camp from about 7km away.

It is a lovely camp atmosphere with many nice people and a very positive mood. There are just 4 of us in my 6 person tent which gives us plenty of space. My tent mates are a nice couple from Texas and a lady who was at the Sri Lanka race.

 I’m already sore and tired, more than I should be for the distance. So for the coming days I’m going to need to pull back the pace and walk more, lessen the running and take more photos and enjoy it more. I also need to eat through some food to get the weight down.

 Please forward to anyone who may be interested.

 Tomorrow is a longer and harder day.

 Hope you are all well, until tomorrow’s missive.

 Lots of love


Comments: Total (1) comments

Melissa Lawrence

Posted On: 28 Jul 2019 08:16 pm

Lovely evocative narrative Ashley, it sounds (and looks, from the photos that have been added) absolutely beautiful. I'm really enjoying following your progress, and looking forward to seeing more of the stunning landscapes. Hope you get a restorative night's rest :-)