Namib Race Blogs 2021
View All Posts 2021 From : Robert Ripley
Stage 1!! Racing at last!
24 October 2021 03:20 pm (GMT+01:00) West Central Africa
So my pre-race Covid test was negative and Sam came and got me and I was blindfolded and taken to an undisclosed location. Just kidding! We were transported to Camp 1 on the shores of the Swakopmund River. The camp was lovely and parked beneath some interesting rock formations. And it was a little windy. Per the wildly circulating rumors, Carlos the course director was out frantically changing the course to a location where the wind wouldn't blow the pink flags on which our lives depend away. the wind died down the first night but returned with a vengeance on Saturday, gusting to over 30mph. The sand blew up under the fly of my tent and filtered down through the mesh, coating everything I had with sparkly bits of the Namib. I must admit I was feeling a little downhearted as I crawled into my gritty sleeping bag. I was wishing that I was still back at the Strand Hotel and I could call housekeeping to come and change my linens. But I was able to get 10 hours of sleep (interrupted by my old-guy bladder a few times) and I felt good in the morning and was able to get into my running kit without getting too much sand into the wrong places.
After the requisite briefing and the camp staff's beautiful singing of the Namibian National Anthem, we were off. The pack was riding well (my pack weighed in just over 6kg and was reportedly the lightest in the field) and the legs felt good and then about a kilometer up the river we hit the mud.... Carlos must have read my blog posting about my shoe choice of the Hoka Carbon X which has essentially no tread. Because, as I mentioned, I wasn't expecting mud in the Atacama, or the Namib. So for about a kilometer I was flopping around like Bambi on Ice. I managed to completely soak my right foot and spray mud all over, but, thankfully I remained upright. And for the next few kilometers we followed the Swakop River in moderately loose sand with a few deviations into a Motocross track (fortunately, no motorcycles were up yet).
Early on, Ben came by me running 8:30 miles. I ran with him just long enough to clock him and realize that was way to fast, so I let him go. And then I ran with Mabasa for a while. By Checkpoint 1 I was on my own. At checkpoint 2 I could see another runner behind me, but couldn't make out who he was..
After Checkpoint 2 we turned off the river for awhile and did several long grinding climbs. I could see Ben way up in the distance and he was moving well, but very gradually he came back to me. We exchanged the lead a couple of times with Ben passing me on the downhills and me moving ahead on the climbs.
The scenery was nothing short of breathtaking (and it wasn't just me struggling to breath on the climbs), with jagged slabs of striated rock jutting out of the sands. Everywhere I looked on the ground there was quartz and other shiny things that in any other circumstance I would have been picking things up and putting them in my pockets. But I restrained my urges and pushed on. And then we dropped back to the river and pulled into an amphiteatre of volcanic rock and the old Goanikontes Ostrich farm.. Absolutely stunning.
And Ben was still a bit behind me when I hit the farm, so I finished Stage 1 in first place. Of course, there are 5 more Stages. I think the critical thing will be how the legs feel in the morning.
I would say the ratio of type 1 to type 2 fun was roughly 50:50 today. Hopefully we can maintain this ratio! I am thankful to be here in this beautiful country, healthy enough to run through it. And I am thankful for everyone's support. Wish me luck for stage 2! I'm off to find more calories and some recovery tights.