Thursday 6 September 2012

Crikey! It's a bit warm!

I'm writing this blog post with only 12 hours to go before I start the Chapman Ventilation Death Valley Challenge. I reached "base camp" in Death Valley during the afternoon today and was amazed at what 120 Degrees Fahrenheit feels like (See picture below taken at Furnace Creek). I have, of course, ran many 40 plus milers in and around the 115 Degrees Fahrenheit mark. That said, the various feelings and memories associated with that kind of temperature have long been forgotten. The resulting blisters and dead nerves are all healed nicely too. I'm sure all those memories will resurface tomorrow as I set off on a 41 mile section from Stovepipe Wells at sea level to Badwater Basin at 282 ft below sea level.

I've driven quite a few miles this afternoon checking out the route. The reconnisance mission's first stop was the start line at Stovepipe Wells (pictured below). Having watched James Cracknell's Race Across America and view this many times in Google Street View I felt as though I'd been here before. I'll be back here to start running at 0700 in the morning (that's 1500 in the UK).

There is absolutely no shelter on the route and I'm going to have to be very careful as the temperature is expected to peak at 120 Degrees Farenheit again. The image below will be my view at around the 5 mile point. I'll be able to see Furnace Creek from here some 20 miles in the distance. I find that having a reference point that far ahead can sometimes give a mental edge. 

Given the amazing scenery that will surround me there is going to be plenty of mental stimulus. To my left will be the Amargosa Range in the east and on my right will be the Panamint Range. 

The final straight on day 1 is shown below. If I've got the slightest scrap of energy left then I hope to push on past the 41 mile point and make it to the Badwater Basin tourist area.

I had a look at Badwater Basin this afternoon (pictured below). I was surprised at how windy it was. Normally, I would welcome any breeze when the temperature is so high. This wind, however, was like being blown by a very warm hair dryer! I could also compare it to the heat blast when you open an oven door. In a nutshell, any breeze here is going to be no help whatsoever.

So with day 1 of the route checked out, I've got to admit that I'm feeling even more apprehensive than I was this morning. The conditions are extremely dangerous here in Death Valley. A sensible approach is going to be needed tomorrow. Good hydration backed with a sensible pace should see be reach the finish line well before sun down.

I said on Twitter this afternoon that "No matter how prepared I think I am for running in this heat, it's going to be a living hell. That is no exaggeration!". That pretty much sums up what I expect to go through in the next 2 days. The risk of dehydration, heat stroke or worse will be ever present. I'll be listening to my body throughout the run. I don't have a fancy medical or sports therapy team present. Should I suspect things aren't quite right with me physically then I will make as sound a judgment call as I can on whether or not to continue. That said, I'm prepared to push myself to the absolute limit, just as I did when I ran 3100 miles across the USA last year.

Thanks once again to Chapman Ventilation for their support. If you follow them on Twitter (@chapmanvent) you will notice that they are asking their followers to guess how long it will take me to run the 78 mile route through Death Valley. The person with the closest guess will win a 32" LCD TV.

Finally, not only is the Chapman Ventilation Death Valley Challenge part of my preparation for the run across Australia in 2013, I'm also raising vital funds for The Children's Foundation. If you would like to sponsor me then please use the link below. Any donations, no matter how large or small, are always gratefully accepted. Thanks in advance.

PS. It was nice knowing you all!