Alexandra’s Report: my 1st 100 Km race

When studying this great website you probably get a quite good idea about this wonderful event which is perfectly organized by some really nice people. Checking through this website and especially also reading some serious race reports you might however also wonder if that is for you?! Well, if the following criteria fit, I would suggest, do this lifetime experience:

  • you love nature (mountains and lakes)
  • you are fairly fit (I would suggest maybe have run one "flat" marathon before)
  • you enjoy meeting interesting people from around the world

Most likely lots of people agree on points 1 and 3, but 2 is always a hard question: how fit do I need to be? That is why I would like to tell you my little story, in order to motivate you since I think whoever thinks about doing this race and at the end decides not to, really misses a wonderful experience!

So, I came to Mongolia having run two "flat" city marathons before and a couple of half-marathons. When discussing about this race a year before with my friend Suvi (also participant this year) she mentioned something about running 100km. We both had just run our first marathon in Shanghai, just making the time limit and I thought "What a crazy girl! I will be happy making the 42km in 8hours!" But it all happened differently: after 22hours and 20min I arrived having run 100km....I could have never imagined that in my dreams! Let me tell you the whole story...

So when we arrived in the camp I was really proud being a participant of 42km and wasnt thinking about 100km at all but then I talked to some participants who had done the race before and I thought maybe it is possible! On the one hand my head was thinking "Dont do that, silly girl, you havent trained for 100km!" On the other hand my adventure spirit was thinking "What a great chance in this beautiful environment to run 100km!" So the first day most of us hiked the 42km and it was nice and seemed doable. The next day some of us checked out the second part of the race and for me this was about the decision to do the 100km or not...because if I wouldnt know what would be left to run, I wouldnt have been able to motivate myself...and well after talking to more people and thinking "yes or No" for 10hours, I decided to give it a try...always thinking "If I am tired, I just stop...it is worth trying and I have nothing to loose!"

So the next morning when we all started in the dark of the forest, I was just thinking about the great nature and fnishing 42km...somehow I got to run with my friend Nanda after a while who was already experienced in 100km runs and gave me great motivation since she was so convinced it was all no problem even she wasnt running faster than me! I dont even remember when I finished 42km but it was somewhere under 8hours and I thought "What a waste of a day to stop running now, it is not even 12 o´clock! I have plenty of time to walk the rest of the kilometers!" And so I continued walking...unfortunately Nanda left me around km 55 because I was too slow for her...so there I walked all on my own, not seeing any other participant of the race for a very long time...it was a great experience: just the nature and me...wonderful! But shortly before km 65 I got doubts if I had lost the way because I hadnt seen anybody for a while nor did I see any race signs...besides that I was worried if the station wouldnt come pretty soon, I wouldnt make the 12hours cut-off! All of a sudden a jeep appeared behind me and Erke smiled at me: "Come on, just a bit more to km 65! There are still people behind you who want to continue the race...not sure if they will make it, but you for sure!" These words just gave me an adrenaline injection that one cant imagine: I had already thought I lost the track and wouldnt make it at all! Happy again I soon got to km 65 where Zvoni was lying in the sun saying "I have to hold the promise I made to my wife, I need to return from here...but go ahead, great job you have done already!"...These were other nice words of motivation and for the first time ever I thought "Maybe I will really make these 100km!" So I continued walking in the hot sun but got more and more tired...all on my own, didnt see any human being for a long time until walking up the mountain before km 76 where some Mongolian kids wanted to sell me some handmade things. Unfortunately I had no money nor sweets on me, so had to continue...suddenly I also realized two participants a little bit behind me, wondering who they were..I continued up the mountain and got more and more tired...just 2km before km 76 Brendan and Chris appeared right behind me and said "hey Alex, how are you doing?" I dont remember exactly what I said because I was just tired and my feet hurt..."Let´s continue the three of us!" gave me new motivation. At least I wouldnt be alone anymore and be safe in case I just couldnt walk anymore...at km 76 I took off my shoes just to see why I was in pain...but that was a mistake: seeing both my feet covered with blisters, it even hurt more! Nevertheless I continued walking a bit before Brendan and Chris after the pitstop at km 76 but they got to me quickly after that again! It was actually less the tiredness than just the hurt of the blisters that really slowed me down...but lucky me had the greatest motivator ever next to me: Brendan without whom I probably would have never finished the race! He was talking most of the time and the interesting conversation didnt leave me time to think about my blisters but I surely felt them with every step I did! Brendan and I arrived at km 88 where Chris had been waiting for us. Our great doctor took care of my blisters and asked me 3 times if I really wanted to continue this race. Since it was already late and getting dark, most organizers and Warren came to see how the last runners where doing...they offered taking us back by car but the three of us had made a promise to finish the race together! It was very nice that two Mongolians with two horses were sent to join us so we wouldnt be alone in the dark and surely the horses were ready to be ridden by someone...being the weakest of the group, I think I was asked 10times if I didnt want to sit on the horse...I guess at the end I even understood that phrase in Mongolian language! But even it was dark, sometimes one of us would loose a foot in the wet grass, every single hard stone was such a pain (due to having around 10blisters on each foot), I resisted the horse until km 97...the problem was that I also didnt see anything anymore, so I had no idea how many km were left and I said completely disillusioned to Brendan "Maybe I should really sit on the horse? Otherwise we never arrive?" I will never forget Brendan´s answer: "You cant tell your grandkids one day, you once tried to run a 100km race in Mongolia and at km 97 you decided to get on a horse! That is just not possible!" Okay, I thought, it would be a shame I need to continue...my feet were burning and I was asking myself for the 100st time how many km is it still? Speaking 6 languages I really regreted Mongolian wasnt one of them because asking the horse men how many km were left wasnt really helping: they showed some fingers, but were these km or minutes or even hours? Nobody could figure out...

But all of a sudden a miracle happened: we recognized a sign to the camp! We didnt know the exact km but definitely knew now that it wasnt far anymore! For me there was no thinking about the horse anymore from now on, Chris sprinted the remaining km and Brendan continued motivating me: he did a wonderful job! After 22h 20min both of us arrived in the camp: 100km was no longer an unachievable goal: we had made it! Falling into the welcoming arms of our great friends at the camp was one of the things I will never forget in my life: I couldnt believe they stayed awake until 3am just to welcome us in the camp! Thanks to everybody who motivated me, especially Brendan, and everybody who helped me during the race, thanks also to the organizers who allowed us to finish the race, thanks to you I made it! Looking back after 3months I have to advise future participants to train a bit more than for a normal marathon but never think it is impossible: if your mind is set on arriving, you will arrive! Enjoy!

Alex

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