Running a marathon at the "End of the World" really did live up to it’s name. If the scenery didn’t take your breath away then Patagonia’s wild wind certainly did! When we arrived in Patagonia we drove to our hotel which was perfectly placed on a beautiful glacial lake with a view of Torres Del Paine. As we got closer to the hotel the clouds were covering most of the view, but we didn’t need to wait long for the mountains to reveal themselves. Epic is a much overused word, but the scenery here truly earns that title.
The day before the marathon we stretched our legs, hiking to a nearby glacier ice field. That was when we really felt the power of the wind and cold air. We met a father and son from Melbourne who had also travelled for the event and we exchanged good stories about our travels and marathon experiences so far. That evening before dinner our guide sat us down and explained the weather forecast for the next day, the marathon day, and it wasn’t good. The forecast was for high winds to be anywhere from 50km/h continuously to 100km/h gusts. That night I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted, the thought of the unknown of running in the winds kept me awake.
The next morning I woke to the sound of wind at the window and I threw the covers back over my head to hide from it. After a few minutes of getting myself together I got up and pulled up the blinds to see the conditions. I was presented with the most beautiful slight yet, an incredible red sky was above Torres Del Paine. I got myself ready and before I knew it the Australian duo and I were on the way to the marathon start line.
When we arrived at the start line the first thing I noticed when I got out of the van was how calm it was, I was so happy! I started the marathon with a spring in my step, where was the wind they forecasted? Had they got it all wrong? I ran the first 10km and got so warm I even had to start shedding layers. Then I turned a corner and the wind hit. At first it was just light with small gusts, nothing I couldn’t handle I thought. When I got to around the half way mark it became unbearable. We were climbing a 250m hill and the wind was tunnelling down between the rock faces straight at us. It was so bad that it sent small rocks our way which stung when they hit. It was clear at this point that I was going to really need to dig in deep to get to the finish line.
It was here that I met Norma, a lady from Mexico. We decided that it would be best to stick together rather than battling the winds alone. We took it in turns to shield each other from the gusts and braced to stop ourselves being blown over. The worst part of the wind was that it was blowing straight in to our faces instead of a nice tailwind. The harsh conditions we faced meant at times it was impossible for me to walk let alone run, and with each moment I was not moving fast enough my body was getting colder and slower. At one point I pulled out my foil survival blanket and wrapped it around my chest underneath my jacket as it was the last layer I had in my bag.
The terrain was varied, very rugged and breathtakingly beautiful so I kept reminding myself how lucky I was to be running in this part of the world. Although it was also far more hilly than I thought, with some climbs and descents totalling almost 1,000m - I guess I read the elevation chart wrong!
The wind didn’t let off for the remainder of the course and Norma and I crossed the finish line hand in hand after 6.43hr which really reminded me of the true meaning of sport when we collected our medals together. What an incredible feeling it was, to complete another marathon after a number of months recovering from a knee injury. I felt all my pain and exhaustion turn to happiness and relief. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and celebrate with Mr Jones!
We had one day left and we really wanted to make the most of it, who needs to rest after a marathon when you’re in Patagonia?! Rhys had desperately wanted to hike to the base of the Torres Del Paine towers, and as he had been such a wonderful support as always I thought it was only right for us to do it. So we decided to book a full day out, horse riding in the morning and hiking that afternoon and my goodness it was so special even if I found it difficult to walk for days after!
I’ve been asked if the marathons are getting any easier and truthfully I don’t think I would say they are, as each one so far has presented it’s own unique challenge. However I do feel like I’m becoming mentally and physically stronger to be able to push my boundaries when I need to the most. In doing this challenge it’s so important to me that I can show what the power of self belief can achieve and to raise money for my 2 amazing charities. As always I am grateful for any support, 100% of the donations go to the charities, with none used to fund the project.
Until next month, when I hope to bring more good news from Rottnest Island, Perth.