The last day dawned beautifully, cloudless and cold, before the sun came up it was very cold around 3 degrees. The necessity of socks, full skins, merino top, jacket, woolly hat and gloves in bed made a bit of a fib of the below zero rated bag and liner, another lesson, always carry a thermo safety blanket. It also doesn’t help having the gentleman athlete bladder which had me, every hour or two, doing the three degree dance down the rows of tent mates, there and back without trying to disturb anybody, snuggle down and mercifully back to sleep.
The joy of this beautiful morning was knowing that the hard work was done and today was a scenic 14.5 km jaunt, for those that were interested to maintain or gain some position, for the walking wounded and there were quite a few of them, one bloke, with massive blood blisters, his mates were carrying him, a man under each arm, a man under each leg , horizontal all the day before wherever he needed to go. They all walked with him today and finished together, all quite emotional stuff, under the beautiful Mongolian sky, beside the Mountain encrusted lake.
Another bonus for the day was throwing out the weighty, uneaten, unappetizing food and lightening the pack considerably. Breakfast that morning was a couple of Hammer Gels to see if we could put a bit of afterburner into the shuffle. I gained 2 places, 78 – 76, what a glorious run, feeling fantastic, beautiful scenery, trying to chase somebody down, and finishing to a bit of pomp and ceremony, a chunky medal, a beer and more great entertainment. There were tears, laughter, beautiful dancers and singers, lots of merriment a dream wrap up for the organizers after a stressful few days. They did extremely well and are a very fine team always with a willing smile under the most trying circumstances and particularly I loved the young Mongolians, “we’re different than the Chinese”, well educated, smart, affable, the fixers between the locals and everybody else and always ready with a bit of how many centuries back history you wanted.
It also must be said that an organising crew wouldn’t often get such a customer base as this. 23 odd nations represented by some of the brightest, adventurist, been there done that, or going there very quickly people ( I must have got lost somewhere between Australia and New Zealand ). I don’t think I heard a whine all week, lots of I’m sure they could have done it better this way, of course
We were eventually loaded onto buses for the Three hour drive back to Bole, through the arid Mountain countryside. Again with the China way the motorway system is fairly new but crammed with bitzza trucks, ideal distances for a big road train,
For anybody that wished to, if you go to http://www.4deserts.com Gobi March 2013 there will be a huge store of photos to trawl through to get a more atmospheric idea of how the week unfolded.
Back at the hotel, out of the stinking clothes and into a shower, divine a bit more throwing out and organising of the traveling gear before the evening awards banquet. This was again a lovely occasion, showing again the nature of the beast, both by The Racing the Planet Team and the participants. The race was won by The Italian Stallion as he was known, and second my favourite guy, a humble, totally unassuming, Turkish navy seal Mamut. He was initially lugging around an 11 kilo pack, which included kitchen utensils and a cooking stove, it was so funny to watch his little cook ups of nice food while we poured hot water into freeze dried mixes and knowing that he was one of the leaders. I will talk more about some of the characters in a de brief blog when I have put some photos in and downloaded enough apps to be able to do something with them.
They did not make windows 8 any simpler! Bloody Geeks.
Suffice to say himself featured in the age group categories as “1st old man in”, there certainly weren’t many of us shuffling around in that group although there should be as we are a bulging category everywhere else. A short lovely aside from an Aussie Ox as hes gasping up the Everest base camp track, here comes a little old lady carrying three times his load ( as he wasn’t using a Sherpa ) with a head sling.
So am now carrying a nice chunky medal and a weighty little plaque, guess what’s not going to get thrown out.
Will get this out and get packed for a 6 hour bus trip early in the morning.