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Finally … an update!

Phew! It’s been over a week since my last post and all sorts of things got in the way. No sleep at all following the Desert King’s amazing race in Atacama .. (which he very convincingly won) .. the race updates were never on time and nail-bitingly exciting amidst a completely impractical time difference! Add a slew of work and a stinking cold to the mix and you have a very grumpy smurf. Ah well, I’ve come out the other side relatively unscathed (except for the Bottega Cabat-sized eyebags!) so all is pretty much on the up again.

I did manage a 13 mile test drive in my new running skirt on Sunday … what a revelation! Pics will follow when I get the chance. But seriously .. such a liberating experience! No more sweaty shorts sticking to the front of your legs .. no muffin top .. and I’m pretty sure I had an extra spring in my step because they felt great! I’m not sure how short they are when I’m actually running in them, and I was running at East Coast on a Sunday afternoon, but I did notice I got a lot of attention running past people .. definitely more than a normal cursory glance .. hopefully in a good way! I wasn’t even wearing the cheetah print one .. it was just black with purple panels down the side.

The main reason for trying the skirts was to eliminate any chafing issues during an ultra .. and 13 miles isn’t quite an acid test, but we’ll get there. The skirts come with their own little mesh bag for washing  in to keep the fabric protected .. well thought out! I’ll be back with a better review once I’ve done more miles in them, but no complaints so far! 🙂

Have a great weekend .. I’m pretty sure I will! (Despite having to work all of Saturday .. bah!)

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Altitude training … suggestions please!

The Atacama Crossing is underway! For the record, I am not racing in Atacama at the moment .. but I will someday! The previous post on the race was to drum up some support for the Singapore-based participants Thaddeus Lawrence and The Desert King. The race is run at altitude, the highest elevation being 3000m.

This got me thinking about my training for the UTMB .. where there’s about 9500m (yikes!) of positive altitude change. We start at 1000m, and the highest peaks are about 2500m, so training in pancake flat Singapore is a bit of a problem considering our highest ‘peak’ is 164m (no, I didn’t leave out any zeroes).

UTMB Course Profile

After some research, I figure I could go to Genting and train, hopefully an affordable option both time and money-wise, and the elevation is between 1000m and 1800m at the top.

So, here’s where I need some input. Anyone knows of any runs in that area (trail or road .. preferably trail) that would be safe to do alone? Any other locations which are possible for altitude training would be appreciated (Must be accessible and affordable from Singapore). Also, any recommendations for places to stay? I figure I could stay at one of the Genting resorts like First World Hotel and just run loops from there. Anyone keen to do this as well let me know! Cheers!

BTW, take a look at DO‘s post on barefoot running and this one at Birthday Shoes on starting barefoot running and barefoot running in ultramarathons. Still doing my daily barefoot runs and trying very hard to be patient about this!

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The Atacama Crossing, Chile

Training at 2400 ft of altitude
This year’s 4 Deserts series kicks off in March with the Atacama Crossing 2011, the world-renowned, 250km endurance footrace across the driest desert on the planet.

Competitors will spend seven days, from 6 – 12 March, moving through the stunning landscape of Chile’s Atacama Desert, on a grueling course that spans salt lakes, sand dunes, canyons and oases.

The racers will be carrying all of their own equipment and food for the week over the forbidding terrain and through soaring temperatures, with the added test of high altitude and severe aridity compounding the challenges they must endure. The Atacama Crossing is grueling not only because of the forbidding terrain which is rarely flat underfoot, and a harsh climate, but also because of the altitude that averages 2500m (8000ft) during the race.

Atacama’s ankle-breaking terrain

Many consider the Atacama Crossing to be the most difficult of the 4 Deserts series, thus always attracting top athletes — this seventh edition of the event is no different. The top contender for the 2011 race is 29-year old Anders Jensen of Denmark, who won the Sahara Race 2010, and is intent on repeating the feat.

Six competitors will also be setting out in Chile to finish the 4 Deserts series, which includes the Gobi March (China), the Sahara Race (Egypt) and The Last Desert (Antarctica), and join the prestigious 4 Deserts Club. Those competitors are Diego Carvajal (27) and Lady Lucy Tang (43) of the United Kingdom, Mayuko Okabe (29) of Japan, Alain Wehbi (42) of Lebanon, Devrim Celal (40) of Cyprus and Singapore’s Thaddeus Lawrence (38).

The Desert King
Anders (his mahjong ‘kaki’ call him the Desert King)  and Thaddeus are based in Singapore, and you can send them messages of encouragement and support here or leave a message on Anders’ competitor blog. They won’t get their mobile phones back till after the race so their only form of communication with the outside world are our email messages and blog comments. 

… so sign up for the email updates and send them a message to keep their spirits up! The race starts Sunday 6th March at 8am Chile time, which is 7pm Singapore time.

Sun 6th March, Stage 1: Navigation by Rock = 35 kilometers / 22 miles 

Mon 7th March: Stage 2: The Slot Canyons = 42 kilometers / 26 miles 

Tue 8th March, Stage 3: The Atacameños Trail = 40 kilometers / 25 miles 

Wed 9th March, Stage 4: The Infamous Saltflats = 43 kilometers / 27 miles 

Thu-Fri 10th-11th March, Stage 5: The Long March = 74 kilometers / 46 miles 

Sat 12th March, Stage 6: The Final Footsteps to San Pedro = 16 kilometers / 10 miles