There was a bus transfer from Dubai to the desert where the race was to start. As a transport I chose to use Uber-offroad. With map coordinates as the only reference, there was some error-navigation before we arrived at a large tent camp. We were informed that this would be the camp for the whole race and then we were divided into great bedouin tent with thick tablecloths. The tents we slept in were set up in horseshoe shape with food, medical and an administrative tent in the middle. Something that gave a clear indication that we were near Dubai was the "luxury" restrooms which in addition to water had air conditioning! The medical tent also had a massage after each stage.
In order to reduce stress ahead of the day trips, I pack and prepare the ready bag the night before and set the watch to wake up to 05:00. Before I crawl into the sleeping bag, I fill one of the bottles of water mixed with electrolytes to replenish the bag overnight. I also lubricate feet with sunscreen (to save weight I don't have regular moisturizer). Headlamp hangs around the neck or is easily accessible. - At night we use red lights on the headlamp to not wake other participants asleep.
My routine in the morning is fixed: Clear sleeping bag etc. Drink a cup of coffee and eat oatmeal as breakfast. Then there is a tooth brush that gives a "fresh start" on the day.
Then there are toilet visits. - It is "shit-boring" to squat out on a desert ridge during the competition. I also follow the color of my urine. It gives a good indication if there is a lack of bag in the body.
Then it is with new socks, shoes and sack - and ready to start!
After the morning ritual this day, the participants were transported by bus to a starting point with some spectators. With 80,000 US dollars in the prize pool, I noticed that it was unusually quiet on the bus, with a high voltage level on many of the seasoned runners.
At the starting line, we were interviewed by TV channels and equipped with GPS tracking chip on the bag as well as timer recording device around the foot, then being whipped off with a handful of Arabian thoroughbred horses and their jockeys in the heels. The sand was, as expected, very "soft" which yields to heavy stepping. Movement pattern with pull-out rather than cut-off worked well and pace was fine from exit to target. But halfway out in the first leg, there is always an inner voice that asks "what do you do here every day - in the middle of a desert desert!". I have learned to go on the smile in this type of situation.
Unlike India, which was my previous desert race, this race was characterized by "high-dunes" - ten-meter-high sand peaks and highly resilient fine-grained sand.
Flag placement was demanding with a distance of 250 to 500 meters between the pink flags. We had to run close to each flag to see the next flag and the right navigation. Especially in the morning when we ran "towards the sun" it was difficult to detect the flags.
By goal passing the first leg I was number nine of a total of thirty good runners - with lots of profit in my body - I was happy.
We started correspondingly the following days with start and finish area by the camp.
The first part we were running parallel to a cycling track in the desert desert. Starting at. At 6am I thought we were very early, but on the cycling track there were constantly cyclists who had been on for several hours. Because of the heat, it is quite normal in the Emirates to exercise before the sun rises.
We ran over some desert plains that disappeared into the horizon. I was unlucky to run into a thin wire that was fastened between two posts at the height of the horizon and head. I was thrown into the ground and the wire hit the left eyeball and made a deep wound over the right eyelid.
The blood rushes and the adrenaline pumps while I, in the blind and reflex, tore off my sack and found the first aid kit. In this type of situation one quickly realizes why it is important to have control over the contents of the first aid kit. Clean, compress and control the situation. First myself, saw the surroundings.
I know when I blink with the eyelid on the left eye that the surface is a bit odd. With the mirror from the first aid kit I see with the right that the left eye is not as it should be. The tears flow, but fortunately no foreign objects to see. The right eye is ok, but the blood is constantly flowing from the wound into the eye along with the sweat.
I stand alone in the middle of the desert and have 57 kilometers left of today's stage. I don't see it all on the left eye - while blood and sweat run down the right eye ...
The head worked on high gear to find a solution. I know that the organizer sooner or later will come by car where it is possible to drive.
Buff and compress are used to keep sweat away from the wound in the hope that the wound and blood will soon solidify and thus stop flowing. I don't see clearly enough with the right eye to navigate the flags. The GPS and the active route on the clock are activated and I can safely navigate further. YES! This works, I smile and continue with a quiet start.
After a while I meet a car from the organizer, they also have a doctor with who makes a quick check. Left eye is not severely damaged and will heal over time. The right eye wound has stopped bleeding and we agree to wait until after the daytime to do something more. By goal passing this day I was down in 11th place.
After targeting, I was immediately driven to the nearest emergency room where they concluded that I had a rift on the cornea in the left eye. Wounded over the right eyelids, they would first sew with four stitches, but when I told them to set to start the morning after, they chose to paste instead - It was fine.
That night I deserved to eat something good - so I found a canned box of "mackerel in tomato" - luxury! All participants also received a cooked meat (desert cat?) And rice by the organizer. The next day we were going to run 100 km so the night before, there was a lot of food, quiet and good sleep.
With poor eyesight on the left eye, but otherwise nice form I started this day well. After a few hours of desert desert, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stands by Dubai along with several taking pictures and "cheering on the runners". Amazing experience and overwhelming that he had chosen to show interest in this race. The thoughts went to Norway and the reaction I had received about King Harald had stood and patted as I was passing on Romeriksåsen.
Throughout the evening I chose to join another participant. This is not common to me, but with poor eyesight this was ok, even though the pace is not optimal. Later we saw a group of five participants who had chosen to run in the wrong direction. In normal conditions, I might have gone further, but since the batteries on our tracking devices were drained faster than expected and they would most likely disappear, I chose to help them back to the path. We spent three hours before returning and arriving at the next checkpoint. - We got potato chips there! It was stashed. This stage ended up being hours longer than expected. 100 km and "high dunes" are in excess of what I run, so at night it became "brisk walking". Late that night, I physically stumbled over a competitor who had collapsed out into the dunes and then lay down to sleep. I came in goal tired, but time to eat breakfast in nice sunrise.
Last leg is always a great day. Unlike most participants in this type of race I get better shape as the days go by and last day I give "a little more fan". I had a good pace all the way and by goal passing there were only four in front of me.
In summary in the race I became number 8 in total among men, 11 people who broke along the way. No cash prize - but a gift title "Special Recognition Awards" with a reminder of age in the subtitle "Veteran Spirit Award".
This was a great race in a beautiful desert landscape. For most, this became a great experience especially considering that this was "first edition" and the organizer's limited experience from such long races. What particularly contributed to a successful event was the election of Race director - Ole Brom. With his experience from similar races, the organizer gained an understanding of the participants' behavior and needs in the race. Some adjustments will make this a fantastic event. I'm already looking forward to next year.