So, with the beautiful fresh early desert Chilean air gently being warmed up by the sun I set off on a gently run again, this time intending not to get lost. I headed out on the first road turning right of the main high street and decided to follow it as far as I could. It was a pleasant dusty road between the low buildings that gradually gave way to fields and less urban buildings (if you can call the main buildings of San Pedro particularly urban looking) occasionally coming across a smart building of a more wealthy homestead. Occasional horses and cattle over the mound that passes for the equivalent to an English hedgerow. I can definitely feel the difference with the air being thinner, but it doesn’t feel to bad and i was comfortable and enjoying my run. I became aware after about 10 minutes that I ha company. A couple of dogs were enthusiastically running at my heels, a black one and and sandy/black one – both similar breed looking to a small Alsatian. If you could say that a dog was smiling, then both of them were, bounding along behind me, beside me and occasionally sprinting ahead of me. Occasionally so close to my heels that they nearly tripped me up on more than one occasion. I felt buoyed by my running companions and their enthusiasm didn’t seem to waiver the longer I kept going. The road eventually forked into two and we headed left which would start taking me up round the top of the town (assuming my directions were better than yesterday) – I soon became aware that my running group had grown from 2 to 5 dogs, all frisking around me as if we did this together everyday. I don’t know what kind of sight I must have presented to the occasional Atacamanian who whizzed past on a bicycle or in a truck, but as we headed around the top of the town I felt like I should have a set of pipes as 5 briefly became 7. I worried that they acutally belonged to someone and I was going to be suddenly chased down by some erstwhile owner screaming at me in Spanish. This thankfully didn’t happen. As we turned down the far side of the town (my sense of direction bang on form this morning) i was back with just my two original and now faithful companions. The end of my run was approaching and I was worried about parting company with them! I needn’t have worried, they had no such qualms and suddenly they were no longer with me and the last couple of miles back to my hotel were just me and the noise of a town creaking back to life. I’d quite like to take them on the race with me – they were good spirit lifters. It will have to be a memory stored to call upon when the chips are down.
So the official instructions for the race are now being issued in timetabled form. My hotel that I have been in all week has been taken over by race volunteers. I had to check out by 11am and hefted mybags up through town which seems a lot bigger when weighed down by luggage, to the race hotel for competitors. It is a big smart hotel, with a lush swimming pool. However check in is not allowed before 2pm and I was almost worried that they weren’t going to let me leave my bags at the hotel, and have to carry them with me for 3 hours! There are a few runners in evidence – already all wearing running kit. I’m always of the opinion that before a race like this it is nice to wear normal clothes as I’m going to be living in the same running gear for the next 8 days! I have headed back out to my favourite cafe on the main square, for real(ish) coffee and jugas naturales (fresh fruit juice). I gamble with the fruit juice as am never entirely sure what I have ordered but it always tastes delicious.
Well folks, this is my last main blog before the race. All things official start tomorrow with race debriefing and check-in where our kit is checked and we sign our waivers etc. Hopefully you have all found your way to the 4Deserts website where there are links to follow the race live, to leave a message on my desert blog, or SEND AN EMAIL to me whilst I am in the desert.
I’m excited, nervous but thrilled to be here, looking forward to running through this wonderful Chilean landscape and to meeting some new and equally crazy people. See you out there!