So where do I start about what to eat and what to take when there are no shops or hospitals for 664kms?
I knew it was going to be hot. If I had a simple life that didn’t involve raising kids, work etc. I would pick winter. Running in June/July/August would be a breeze. I had a 2 week window this year that I could do this. With my son Charlie doing his HSC this year, I had to do it early in the season. I plan to be around for him for the rest of the year. The Simpson Desert is closed during the summer months because of extreme temperatures… it had only been open for two weeks when I started running. I thought it would be hot… like 35C not 45C!
Even with the heat we had decided for safety and ease of setting up camp there was no running at night.
We had VKS radio contact, epirb, GPS tracking in both cars and I carried a radio when running to communicate to both cars and for safety when vehicles were heading my way. I also carried a Spot 2 GPS tracker with an emergency button that if pressed would alert the appropriate authorities…. and send them out to the last GPS co ordinate. It was used to let family and friends know where I was each day and I’d press the ok button at camp to let them know where I was for the night.
I left the water situation to the boys. Garry and Peter had plenty. For two total strangers, I was totally committed to their knowledge of the desert and their cars. Emails and phone calls flew around before the trip and I felt comfortable.
I packed 23 kgs in a duffle bag. Tent, sleeping mat, running clothes, first aid and supplements. No hair dryer or makeup. I didn’t look at myself for 10 days. No mirror…. probably a good thing ;) I also had around 15kgs of carry on luggage.(mainly nutrition)
First Aid. The most comprehensive gear I have ever put together.
St John info sheets (for the crew) I knew my First Aid, but what if I was unconscious??
IV cannulas, Hartmanns fluid, IV lines, tourniquets, compression bandages, ice packs.
Drugs… Adrenaline, Zofran, Antibiotics, Immodium, Pain Killers (NSAIDS and Panadol) Fortunately not one drug was needed.
Dental emergency kit, Emergency glue, steri strips, thermometer, scales, bandages, tapes, needles, syringes, alcowipes… yeah, yeah, space blankets, scissors and whatever else you think I may have missed. Really should have written everything down … but you get the gist. I was totally prepared for the worst. I’d even asked one of the Cardiac surgeons I work with if he could fly a plane :)
Spent some time with the pharmacist at work on what to take… anti venom… ah, bugger it. Adrenaline. If the shit hits the fan, adrenaline. If it doesn’t work…. the shit hits the fan…
Major concerns were snakebites and dehydration. After (and during) Day 1 I was seriously worried about the heat. How can I get through over 650kms if the temp continues to be 45C? I was very aware of what I was drinking and the lack of urine on the first day. Over 15 litres in and 200 mls out in 24 hrs is a major concern.
Passing vehicles and dressed for the heat.
I know the risk taken when you take NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs like Nurofen/Ibuprofen) combined with ultra running and dehydration. I don’t want to mess with my kidneys. I didn’t take any painkillers for the whole trip.
The only time I had any thought of a cramp was in my hammy when I hit my mat and was horizontal at 17:30 on Day 1. Garry noticed… damn it. He suggested magnesium tabs….He doesn’t miss a beat that guy. I took nothing but I was glad he was watching over me.
You plan for a 100km event. You take more…. a lot more.
I’d packed heaps of eLoad Gu, electrolyte tabs, sports drink. I ate no Gu. I carried it incase I needed it but for a 664km event I felt it was important to keep the digestion real. The sports drink was consumed in copius amounts. So was water. The electrolye tabs were great when I just hated the excess sports drink.
The first few days I was eating Just Right for breakfast. I then decided that I just wanted an Up and Go. The crew would pack up camp and meet me 25 kms down the road. I’d eat creamed rice and then tinned fruit after that. By 40kms, it was whatever I felt like. It was so stinking hot and I felt like lemonade and rice crackers… tuna and rice cake… I thought I’d be into sweet stuff like apricot delights, snakes etc but my body was more wanting protein and savoury stuff.
My hydration pack was fine for the first 30kms. After that I took the bladder out as it was like drinking dirty, hot tap water. The crew could then hand me a cold bottle when I saw them.
I packed magnesium, zinc and calcium tablets but took none. I wanted to trust my food and how I felt. I also carried some Ensure (total nutrition powder) as back up if I couldn’t stomach food. (Thanks Ian for the heads up.) It came home with me unopened. I had to have every product possible on board. Just in case.
My crew were wondering why my food bag was basically untouched. Their supplies were so good that my bag was void of any item not already offered to me and Suse had bought my favourite rice snacks from Tokyo. Oishi!
My crew were there for me but not controlling me. I was happy to eat whatever was planned for the evening meal by Garry and Janet and Peter and Ellis. I knew I had to keep on top of my nutrition and any physical or mental issue that may present itself. As long as they thought I knew what I was doing… all is good :) I’m good at bullshitting… should be ok :)