Friday, March 11, 2011

Sumanth's blog update of Stage 5 - The Long March

Pictures from Stage Five

Stage 5 - The Long March
11-Mar-2011 06:28:05 AM [(GMT+05:30) Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi]

Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2011
It is now 10AM.  I got in here at 3.15AM, completed the stage in a little over 19 hours, including 2.5 hours of R&R.  My body has no feeling below the hip and I am limping back to normal.  My lips look like the salt flats I just crossed, torn and dry!

The stage started with 15km of extremely difficult salt flats (to CP1) followed by another 10 odd km of hard and crusty sand (to CP2). I did decent time here and also managed to reach CP3 by 1PM, given the cut off was 7PM.  CP3-CP5 was brutal.  Desert heat and no shade anywhere.  I was hobbling for the most part, given my bad legs from yesterday and at on point almost felt like giving up.  Oh, well.  It is also funny, how at times you pass people, people pass you or you are moving on alone for miles and miles, just you and your thoughts.  The key was to just keep sucking up all the good thoughts and wishes and channeling them inward, to move on.

Nutrition wise, the day did not go well.  I could not eat any solid food for the last two days and had to force some soup in at the end of Stage 4.  To ensure no nausea or giddiness, I kept nibbling on a few sugar bars during the day, washed down with loads of water and antacids at each CP.  Consulted the doctors monitoring us and I was assured no cause for concern.

At CP5, took a break for 2 hours.  Had a large cup of miso soup and took a short nap.  At this point, I had company - Len (my tentmate) and Gary and Brad (both of whom I met a day ahead of the race).  We set off from CP5 around 10PM.  CP5-CP6 took us almost on the border of Argentina-Chile and we were told that because of border issues between the countries, we were passing through a landmine field for 6km.  Oh, fuck!! Well, onward and upwards.  Gary, who worked in Tanks in the Canadian Forces took lead and we followed.  We kept to the path, following the glowsticks and not straying too far from the designated path till we reached CP6.

Post CP6, we walked on through a difficult creek/river canyon.  We stopped many times to look at the night sky -Beautiful to see the entire milky way, a sight you will never see in a city, thanks to light pollution.  We identified the southern star, orion,  the two bears.  I mean, against the backdrop of the black sky, the glowing stars were so refreshing to see.

The road into camp reminded me of "on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair" minus the warm smell of colitas wink wink.

With all this little soirees to keep our enthusiasm going, we finally made it to camp at a little after 3 this morning.  The four of us crossed the line together - great camaraderie.

I am more refreshed now, will be eating some soup and food soon.  Tomorrow is a 16km into San Pedro where pizza (lots of it) and beer (more than lots of it, I trust) await us.  Thank you all for your kind wishes.  There are many who have written in, who I do not know personally.  Thank you as well.  These are what have helped me complete six days in the desert.

See you all soon.



  1. A really fantastic test of endurance. Surely a lifetime memory. Reading your descriptions of the scenery and looking at the photos, it just sounds like another world.
    The party at the end will surely be worth it :-)
    - Love, Ramya & Arun

  2. wow sumanth
    i am so impressed and so kicked that i know u :)
    super job my man
    now i just hav to cum to hyd to hear u tell us all about it
    take care brother .... keep runnin

  3. All the best buddy! Truly impressive and inspiring! Way to go! We cheer for you. Shashank