The first day

Unsurprisingly after my late night toilet mishaps I didn’t get much sleep. So my morning was a little sluggish, I popped down for breakfast, forced down some porridge, then headed to the tent to get ready for the first day of competition.
Being particularly English I spent my time brushing my teeth, rather than actually getting my kit ready. So when the briefing started I was still mounting my bottles, sorting my trekking poles, pinning numbers and trying to find the days snack food. But my teeth were definitely clean.
Samantha, started the briefing and did a little name check about my unguided attempt. This caused Yoji to come over and say hello. I thanked him for his assistance last night and he headed off to the start line. Despite the countdown beginning I wasn’t quite ready. So I missed the official start ever so slightly. But approaching the start line I did find out the course had changed a little.
This was going to cause a slight problem, as we had made the decision to hard code the course into the map. So any deviations were going to be difficult to deal with and by difficult I mean the app wouldn’t work. So we headed from the start line, I fiddled with the app and got it working, it immediately started beeping saying I was off course, the solution here was relatively simple though. Follow the other people and follow the feeling underfoot.
This part of the course was relatively simple to use both these methods, it was very closed in. There was a path banked at either side by foliage, it was just like at home, move to far either way and you were touching a bush. It was also very easy to follow the noise of the other runners. It wasn’t too long before we were out of this closed section and into more open plains. This was what I had imagined, the app worked exactly as expected along these sections. As soon as I deviated from the route the beeping would commence guiding me into the correct bearing. We pushed along for many miles, chatting to fellow runners and enjoying the fact the desert, at least in this section was not as warm as we had anticipated.
The day went along relatively breezily, I munched on my snacks, applauded my decision to bring trekking poles and was already getting sick at the taste of Nuun,.
It was closer to the end of the day when I had the realization of exactly what I was doing. For the first time ever I was competing solo, I was following the beeps along a straight section, sweeping left then a little cut to the right. It was during this section that I could hear the applause of the next aid station, with a tear in my eye I arrived and was amazed at what I had achieved. It was truly a fantastic moment of independence, I had managed to do something I had been dreaming of for years, it felt incredible.
But these was an immediate problem, I had begun to develop blisters so was in need of some taping. A short stop at the aid station and with sufficient tape on my feet I headed out in high spirits. The terrain on the final section for the day was far looser than previous sections. The sand was beginning to get deeper and your feet could now easily sink. But not to worry it couldn’t be too far to the finish.
I kept pushing forward until I heard what I had been waiting for. We had developed the app to trigger as I reached the end of the route each day. So the audio triggered but it seemed strange not to hear any clapping or cheering at the finish line. I turned round and told Neil I was at the finish, “No, you aren’t” he replied. It turned out they had moved the finish line!
So Neil looked around spotted some tents and we headed over, it turned out we had slightly missed the new finish line. So we back tracked a little and heard the reassuring cheering of the finish.
We had done it, our first day complete! With a wonderful sense of achievement, I dropped my bag off at the tent and headed for some much needed food.

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