Hey there my fellow Voke fans!
This is a story of the 4 Deserts Race Series Gobi March. This is the 3rd segment of 5 this year to become the first female in the world to accomplish the Grand Slam Plus. I actually can’t believe I am writing this one with just 1 day until the 4th race starts in Chile. We are getting bussed out to the desert in 1.5 hours to begin our journey with a night at camp 1 which rests at 11k feet. To follow the journey please visit my instagram and Facebook pages.
For those just chiming into the journey, this is a series of 5 x 250k (155 mile) self-supported Ultra Running races in 4 Deserts and 1 Jungle throughout the world, while carrying everything that you need to survive on your back. This includes food, sleeping supplies, safety equipment and any luxury items you care to tow along the journey. The race team will provide medical aid in extreme cases, hot and cold water, and a tent to share with up to 9 others. The first race took me to Sri Lanka and I placed 9th overall and 2nd female. You can read about the journey a few articles down in the Voke Blog. The 2nd race was in Namibia Africa for the Sahara/Namibia stage where I placed 1st female and 6th overall. To see this blog, please scroll down in the feed as well. I am running this quest in honor of the LymeLight Foundation to raise funds and awareness for Lyme Disease. We have raised almost 6k already and hope to raise at least 10k to give at least one grant away this year.
To learn more visit here: http://wonderwomanjax.com/grand-slam-plus/
Here is the website as well to the 4 Deserts Race Series: http://www.4deserts.com
The Gobi March was an extremely difficult race, that left me with 2 inch blisters in circumference on each foot to come home with. The weather and course served up many challenges if this segment of the 4 Deserts Race series. With all of that aside, I was honored to race my heart out and became the female champion once again and won by 11.5 hours! I also placed 6th overall once again.
Here is the story of the Gobi March.
Pre-race: The first challenge for the Gobi March is just getting there. It was 42 hours of travel from the United States to Hami. It included 3 planes and 1 high speed bullet train. I planned my travel super tight for this race so I am very thankful everything worked out to get there. On the way home flights were cancelled and it was very stressful. If this would have happened on the way there, my dream would have been crushed by not making it to the starting line! Overall travel was smooth but upon the segments getting to Urumqi and Hami, english became a language that was not common. Thankfully, we all stuck together and made it. The bus ride out and up to camp one was super fun as always and quite long. It took us over the Tian Shan mountain range. Going into the alpine terrain was so beautiful and camp 1 was at around 7k feet.
Day 1 (20.8 miles): The day was smooth, steady and cool. I loved the mixed terrain of alpine mountain running and we enjoyed running over a massive sand dune. As much as I tried to avoid it, my stomach had the day 1 blues again so stage 3-4 was once again a little rough. The blessing was that we spent the night at a Yurt camp which meant we slept in Yurts with blankets! The night was cold with mixed rain storms so the Yurt was a huge gift.
Day 2 (22 miles): On day two we traveled back over the Tian Shan Mountain range. The top altitude was around 10k feet when going over the pass. The weather was not very favorable for the climb up and over. At the top I felt borderline hypothermic and was very scared. Sam suggested to just keep pushing and run through it and get over into the warmer temps. This worked like a charm and before I knew it I was taking off all of my extra layers and the sun was shining!
Day 3 (26.1 miles): Day 3 started extremely early. Around 1:30am a huge wind storm was blowing through and the tents were flapping like crazy. I am not a big fan of storms or wind so this had me tossing and turning non stop. Around 6am the wind increased and the tents began to loose their stability. Posts began to fly and everyone rushed to hold on to their belongings and just decided to pack up. We spent the rest of the morning cuddling in a ball of people until the race began at 8am. The first part was windy, misty and rainy. Around stage 2, we were welcomed by the sun and the wind slowed down. This was so wonderful and from there the heat began to show up.
Day 4 (27.8 miles): This day was hot, dry and undulating for me. It was probably my most difficult day. I was exhausted from the up and down in the temperatures but still hung on strong. The increased heat made my feet feel like they were burning up. I could already feel sores beginning to develop on my foot pads and every step was a sore one. The entire terrain that day involved many rocks. Every single rock would push on my shoes and into my feet and hurt really bad. It definitely became a day of mental grit and stamina as I battled the heat and my feet. Upon making dinner that night, I also dropped half of my Expedition Foods mac and cheese on the ground. When only taking 14,800 calories for the entire week, this moment was a bit tragic and I might have to admit a few tears fell. Out there, every piece of gear is a tool to survive so this was a bit rough.
Day 5 (46.9 miles): The long march is the longest of the days. And for us, it was the hottest with temps maxing out in the afternoon at 130 degrees! Somehow, I tend to excel in hot and dry heat and I ended up making history this day by coming in 2nd overall, which moved my overall position with the boys up to 6th. It was definitely not an easy day, especially as I finished and took my socks off to find two huge blisters that had formed on both footpads. It was excruciating to walk and I didn’t really know how I was going to even run the last 6 miles in 1.5 days. Around 10pm, the wind began to rush in. I tried to sleep but the tent pole collapsed on me once and then 30 minutes later other parts of the tent frame began to fly up. From there I decided to take a deep breath and get some water. During those 2 minutes, the tent blew away, with my sleeping bag and sleeping pad! Fun times eh? So from there we took shelter under a sandstone formation and sat up the rest of the night. Once again my survival tools were blowing away in the dust. The dust storm escalated to the point where at 6am they called the stage and went out to scoop and runners left on the course. We then evacuated camp and moved to an abandoned Museum for the rest day.
Day 7 (5.9 miles): For the final stage we were bussed back out to the finish from the day before to do a 10k loop out and then up and around a few sand dunes with a finish in the desert. Every single step hurt so bad but I had to just grit my teeth and get through it. Knowing that it was my victory lap made it all a bit easier to get through.
All in the Gobi March presented a lot of adversity and a lot of success. 13 weeks have now passed since then and I feel the fittest I ever have for a 4 Deserts Race. To see how my preparations have gone for this race, please visit here: Blog
At The Gobi March, my protocol is 1 VOKE Tab in the morning and then 2 VOKE TAB’s in the afternoon =) It works like a charm and I am so grateful for that immediate kick start in the desert!
Cheers folks and get VOKED!