Hey folks. Just like that the 4th race of the series is complete with another big WIN.
The Atacama crossing was an unbelievable experience and a really special victory for me.
Last year at the Atacama Crossing, I was 2nd place overall. It was my very first self-supported ultra-marathon ever and I had a lot to learn. It became the spark that lit the fire to take on the quest to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus. It was after this race when seeing the inspiration that began among the masses that the grand idea came to try to make history this year.
And now fast forward a full year later and it is now my 5th race and 3rd victory in the 4 Deserts Race Series. One race remains to make history.
The Atacama crossing began with arriving early for the first time for a race. I love San Pedro and I really love this one coffee shop called Roots so it is always special to visit it during my stay. It has delicious lattes and really good crepes.
The Atacama Desert is known as the driest desert in the world. It rests at high altitude and has magical terrain within it. The terrain can be compared to zion but on steroids. The terrain that we run on is a mixture of a coral reef, mud that cracks and collapses under your feet, 38 river crossings, sand dunes, and salt flats. Every now and again we will get a little relief on a dirt road or path.
The race started off a little rough on day one. The altitude starts at 11k feet and we have already spent a night at camp 1 by this point that was really cold. Thanks to TREW GEAR I am loaded with a jacket and long sleeve wool shirt that I then donate at the start to the grounds crew. I was so cold during the night that I used hand warmers on my neck to help out.
The day went very smooth at first. Steady, and as effortless as it can be when lugging 18lbs on your back. And then the traditional day 1 battles began. My digestive system held out much better than other times but I was struggling with fatigue and overheating. I was so hot and my neck felt restricted in my clothing. I trotted along and finished in 1st position for the females by 30 minutes but feeling drained and exhausted. Right out of the gate, even on a bad day, my time was over an hour faster than last year so I was immediately excited about my fitness.
Day two was a blast! My absolute favorite day out on the race course for the entire year so far. It had 38 stream crossings and I was in 1stposition overall all of the way up until the last checkpoint. At that point, Tommy flew by and I ended up 2nd for the day. All of the sudden I realized that my fitness was going to put me in a place to compete with the boys.
Day three I was prepared for the hardest day of the course. It has a significant amount of harsh terrain that you must manage yourself through. Even through it is only 24 miles that day, it is one of the longest stages as far as time in the first four days. I prepared myself for a hard day because it was so hard last year. In the end, it was super fun. We had a group of guys and myself up front that were playing a game of yo yo of who was in front. At each check point I was in a different position from 1st, 2nd, 6th, 1st, 3rd. I ended up 3rd overall and first lady for the day with a finish crawling up a sand dune. The day was fun but exhausting and I felt a hot spot on my toe. In the end I had a blood blister under my toe nail. It was so disgusting and lead to a visit to the medical tent to drill a hole through my nail to pop the blister. Disgusting eh?
Day 4 was hard. I was tired and exhausted. The day that last year was my favorite quickly became a doozy. My buddy Daniel pushed me along the entire day. He was such an incredible help to me as we picked off the 28 miles. The salt flats and the course can be grueling. The heat can really get to you and you want to save as much energy as possible for the long march the next day.
The long march came quick as ever. It was a LONG and hard day. Unfortunately, my time of the month came and I had to muster all of my might and energy to get through it. Luckily at check point 4 I was able to get some iron and that helped pick me up some. Doing the course before helped me significantly because I could keep pushing to the next section that I knew was coming. Once I hit the valley of the moon I became extremely emotional! The race was now in the bag. Although I slipped from 2nd overall to 4th I knew at that point I had a significant lead for the female champion of the race. This was a huge dream come true that I dreamed about for 12 full months. The Valley Of The Moon is also a tourist destination and going through it at 5pm was a thrill. Tourists would take photos as I ran by and I was so proud to run with the leader jersey.
The race ended with a celebration victory lap back into town in San Pedro. It was a thrill.
Now there is just one race left to make history. I cannot believe it.
I am currently in Antarctica for The Last Desert race, which goes from November 18th -29th.
As always I am so lucky to be fueled with VOKE TAB during this journey.