Pre-Race . . .

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2012 at 10:08 am

Saturday morning we had our pre-race meeting at the hotel.  This basically amounted to the race directors going over various boring topics and providing information on not dying from dehydration or being eaten by a camel. 

Following that, we had gear-check where our packs were inspected to verify that we had all the mandatory equipment and nutrition for the week.  My pack weighed about 11.5 kg ( 25 pounds in metric ) and included approximately 15,000 calories to keep me alive for a week.

You are required to bring a minimum of 14,000 calories.  Most people bring the freeze-dried camping food and a variety of power bars, gels, etc.  ( Hot water is provided each night at camp. )  I had the camp food in addition to nuts, trail mix, crushed potato chips, pepperoni, oatmeal, and candy.  One guy brought nothing but this powder he mixed with water.  Another guy brought ingredients and basically cooked dinner each night.  ( HINT – If you bring the freeze-dried meals, don’t bother bringing them for any day past day 4, because by then just looking at them makes you want to vomit and you somehow exist on Swedish Fish and Gatorade for the 80 km day. )

My pack weight was about average.  The lowest was close to 6 kg and the heaviest over 17 kg.  How/why either one of these folks got to these numbers is completely beyond me.  I had 6 kg worth of food alone and with 17 kg, he probably had a Sherpa in there to carry everything for him. 

The whole idea of pack weight is a vanity thing for people to brag about how little they brought or how smartly they packed.  In a way it is good, because it forces you to question all the random crap you shouldn’t even consider bringing.  On the other side, it made me be dumb enough to not bring an extra 1.5 ounce camera battery.

After going through the most inefficient hotel check-out process every, ( HINT – If anyone at a Chinese hotel ever gives you a blue piece of paper, NEVER EVER EVER let it leave your person and make sure every single person in the line in front of you has the piece of paper because the crazy people behind the counter will refuse to check you out without the blue piece of paper even though at check-in no one even remotely bothered to mention the importance of this random slip ) we boarded buses for the 4 hour trip from Kashi to the desert.

When we arrived at Camp 1, the locals had prepared a welcome for us that included various forms of entertainment.  One of the guys with the accordian may or may not have been the Governor of the region.  The translator needed a translator.

Plus, there was ‘Goat Ball’, which is more commonly called ‘Buzkashi’, the national sport of Afghanistan, which was prominently featured in the timeless classic Rambo III.  ‘Buzkashi’ features two teams on horseback fighting over a headless goat carcass trying to get the headless goat carcass onto a special pile of rocks.  Imagine rugby with a dead headless goat.

Unfortunately, I got no good photographs of the actual headless goat carcass.  I promise you, it’s in there.

After someone somehow was victorious at ‘Goat Ball’ we had watermelon and some local bread and the locals went home.   This left us to finish our dinners and then lie in sun until it went down at 11:30 pm. 

Interesting fact, China has only a single time zone.  So, although it gets dark in Beijing at about 7:30 pm, the sun stays up a ‘tad’ longer the further you go west.  Imagine how the residents of Los Angeles would feel if they were on Eastern Time.  It was even more convenient getting ready in the dark every morning.

  1. Do you get a string backpack when you finish????

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