, 2023-01-09 01:00:00,
Focus on the next step. Don’t look back. The ground will fall away. Grains of sand will whip past, but you’ll persevere. You’ve made it this far.
My inner monologue took a turn towards the self-help aisle during a four-and-a-half-day trek through the Namib Desert. It was necessary as the dry heat hit 38°C, my thighs calcified and every other toe developed a blister.
Minutes later, I’d reached the summit of that hateful dune. The soft sand and steep ascent made it the toughest spurt of the course.
Each footprint ahead was left by either one of 2022’s class or by a competitor or crew member from the 2018 test run, the 2019 outing or Sport Relief 2020. Yet the desert with shifting sand dunes of up to 300 metres dates back at least 55 million years. It would blunt and restore my resolve before nightfall.
I was among one of several splinter groups that formed on the “big dune day” of Race to the Wreck. The event, run by adventure travel company Rat Race, crosses parts of Namib–Naukluft National Park that feature flat, sandy stretches with views of rocky canyons, the dried-out bed of the Kuiseb River – and dunes. It ends at the Eduard Bohlen, a cargo ship that ran aground in 1909.
The on-foot version covers an equivalent of 4.8 marathons, supported by the Rat Race team, volunteers, medics and members of the Topnaar community. Sections of the park are under the guardianship of the Topnaar people and…
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