Today was a short day – only 30km! (The flip side of this being an unspeakable 53km waiting for us tomorrow….)
It is really true that we have broken the back of the race already – Arzoo and Mahdi are clearly in pain, but showing an impressive amount of determination always being in the front of the group, gritting their teeth and just getting on with it. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that they will finish the race – now the questions focus on whether they would contemplate doing another race like this again. In an interview with German “Trail Magazine,” Mahdi declared today with the tone of full conviction that he would. Kubra reaffirmed that the reason she was in Sri Lanka was precisely for this reason. Arzoo has asked for one more day of deliberations (a far cry from her “I will NEVER do this again” two days ago!). Arzoo and Mahdi are truly a great team, trudging on together, chattering away and finding comfort in each other’s company. They take the pain stoically – today’s course involved a few more river crossings, long slogs of terrain, and merciless pounding of tropical rain – and are determined to make their country proud. In the process, they are connecting with other runners, telling them proudly of the beauty of Afghanistan. Kubra similarly is becoming very popular with the runners who can rely on her helpful ways once they return to camp.
Team Sahra’s mentors meanwhile are neatly dividing their tasks – Karen usually gets to the camp early and helps prepare the tent to make us all a bit more comfortable, Belinda keeps the team at a steady pace, rookie Connie is suffering from tight shoes and looking to Arzoo for help with her feet, and Cynthia is the camp mum who makes sure everybody has enough medication and food to taste everybody’s palate (now, for those of you who have never done one of these races – this is not a matter of deciding which roomservice to order, but requires a lot of improvisation with existing supplies, but she does it perfectly). We are having a lot of fun in our female only tent, and Mahdi has made friends with his male tent mates.
Tomorrow, Friday, will be our long march: 53km (or was it 54). However, once we have done those, we are essentially through (except for the ceremonial 4km race down the beach to the finish line on Saturday). Please keep us in our thoughts for this stage, which will be long and hard and hot – but it is all in our minds, and our minds are determined! We will have16km of road, followed by 14km of jungle path way, and then, the clocks will stop, and we will walk 20km in groups through Yala National Park, accompanied by park vehicles, and hoping to see some wild life. What a race! Our feet have been taped up, our packs are a whole lot lighter, and we are in good spirits. Not sure if we will be able to blog on Friday evening, as it will be a loooong day, but you will hear from us on Saturday!
Love to you all.