WOW what a race.

Crossing the finish arch felt like heaven on earth. Awesome. Such a spectacular setting for a finish, in a Buddhist village with a strong Silk Route history. The whole last 14k trail run run through the Flamming Mountains was done on endorphins, feeling on a high and realizing how incredibly privileged I am to be doing this race. Yes, the last day felt soooo good. At the same time glad it’s over, happy to kick my running shoes in the corner for a while and can’t wait to go home and see my little boy Koen (and Kiki if it wasn’t that she’s in Paris for work…). In physical terms, how do I feel? Can describe it best as a Wiener Schnitzel….feel like cooked meat in a crust of sand, red dust and salt. Some might have had a wash-up from their drinking water supply during yesterday’s rest day but last night’s crazy sandstorm evened everyone out again. During the morning briefing everyone looked absolutely wrecked; red eyes, covered in red dust, exhausted. Can’t wait for my long warm shower and crisp bed linnen at the Yin Du hotel in Urumqi.

I started the Gobi March strong, physically and mentally. I paced myself every day. Running when it felt like the right thing to do and walking when running didn’t go. I never started the day over-doing it on the first legs yet still going out fast, otherwise the day would last forever. It’s about finding that economy of speed to avoid burning/bonking/hitting the wall. Recovery time after a hard smack takes so much longer and really dents your race confidence. I think I covered the race at average 80% of my physical abilities. Could have run more and harder at times, significantly increasing pain levels. But why? Risk of burning out for the sake of a better placement? For me that was not my objective of this race. Completing and enjoying the journey was my aim.

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Trying to give it a space as to how hard the race actually was. It’s so difficult to compare, there are not many things out there that relate to the scale of this race. So I went back to Time Magazine who quoted the 4 deserts races in their top 10 toughest endurance events. Who shares that list? 24 Hours of Le Mans, Tour de France, Dakar Rally, Iditarod Dog Sled Race, Cannonball Run, Tevis Cup, Marathon de Sables, La Ruta de los Conquistadores, Vendee Globe. Some look interesting…

Got back in Dubai late last night. Zombied around the house this morning, jet lagged and knackered. Was looking for a new book to stare at and visited my huge pile of ‘still to read’s’ which include; 4 hours work week, tipping point, the leader who had no tittle, lightroom 3 tutorial, art director annuals, vision mongers, Andre Agassi’s Open, PDN mags, graphic design books, etc. The one that jumped at me was funnily enough ‘Recettes pour bien vivres’ a Dutch/French cook book I purchased last August for it’s great food photography. Now finally unpacked it makes me hungry. I knew that I lost weight when I tried on three different pairs of trousers, all sliding down my hips. Climbed the scale which measured four kilo’s less, yes finally in the sub 100’s. Lets start with a few creme brulee’s!

I’m so happy to be self employed. Would have found it a real struggle to walk into an open plan office space Monday morning, searching for my cubicle and find it at the same state I left it in. With a huge stack of boring paperwork waiting for you. That would make me want to take the first plane back to the Gobi and run back to the start.

So many valuable people have supported me in getting to the finish:
Love to thank my lovely wife Kiki for many reasons, allowing me to do the race, her support during the months of training and keeping the blog up and running during the race. You’re the best!
Mary Gadams and the team at 4 Deserts for bringing on these spectacular races. I would seriously encourage everyone to visit their site with the intention to sign up, guaranteed they will take your live to a whole different level.
I would like to thank family and friends for the continuous flow of fresh competitor messages during the race. Was always something to look forward to after a hot day out in the field. Inspiring, humorous and touching.
Karin and the team at Audi, thanks so much for spreading the charity message around the Middle East. The coverage is already spectacular and still coming in. Our maid Luz ran in this morning holding the 7days with my ‘final results’ news story. Your input has made such a difference.
Tent Grasshoppers and in particular Chris, Richard and Marcello. Thanks for the great conversation, laughs and heeps of sarcasm.
Finally a true thank you for those many contributors who supported the ABC Children Aid in Uganda. We currently stand at US$ 6,487 and I know quite a few are still wanting to contribute. At the bottom of this post you can find a shortcut with easy credit card option. Quick and Simple. 100% towards a great course.

I hope to have inspired others to rock their own boat, looking at their own stretching Gobi equivalent that fits their chapter. It is great to have dreams and massively important to have excitement on the horizon. And trust me it’s even better to live your dreams and tick off a few of these boxes. I truly believe in the power of words. Positive wording leads to great results, as long as it comes from the heart – deep from inside. The Gobi March has been on my books for a few years, now a huge medal richer it’s actually the inner strength that has made be so proud to have completed this amazing race.What’s next?


Note: All images by Dale de la Rey for Racing the Planet