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Redondo reigns supreme – yet again…

RacingThePlanet Western Australia has been won by Salvador Calvo Redondo out of a starting field of 198. Aged 47, Redondo is one of the most outstanding endurance athletes in the world. And perhaps if you read the rest of this article, which includes comments from several of the competitors, you might appreciate the enormity of a win of this kind.

2nd place went to 48 year old Francesco Galanzino, and 3rd place to Lia Farley, 39. It seems age – as in experience, counts!

We have to thank merakillo for this stunning pictorial video of the magnificent scenery encountered on this extreme endurance run:

And also thank you to racingtheplanet for their videos of various stages of the race:

The Kimberley had it all for this RacingThePlanet special… Day One was 41.8km long, top temperature 47 degrees and 82% humidity… it takes quite some determination to keep going under those conditions and it was too much for 13 competitors. As first days go it was a tough one.  A lot of jockeying for position and placing and a lot of overtaking happened throughout the day. “Scorching hot, humid and totally shattered,” said David Perry. “Have now got blisters, a stuffed shoulder and literally cannot imagine walking tomorrow.” When all else is failing the sense of humour still stumbles along as he added later in the evening when safely back in camp “its now a hike to find the loo area – several hundred yards away. This will take me about an hour at my current speed.”

And that was just day 1…

The sun was punishing on Day 2 and the course was 38 km long, but a little rain during the day helped enormously as did a 0600 start or, as Joe Osha said, “The gods decided to go a little easier on us today.” The terrain was varied – from the spectacular Bungle Bungles to monotonous cane grass fields. The heat coming off the rocks was relentless and every waterhole was welcomed with relief. People were taking the race slightly more cautiously by now, preserving their energy in the hopes that it would last the duration of the course, but despite this 11 more people had to withdraw. Hypodermic needles were already in use releasing pressure from under toenails and the camps medics were heavily employed administering IV drips, cleaning and bandaging blistered and bruised feet, amongst numerous other trials and tribulations.

Day 3 was supposed to be more gentle and in some respects it was … in the later stages, but the first section was very difficult with cross country up and down hills and rock everywhere.  You had to watch foot placement every step of the way. Just before reaching checkpoint one there was a beautiful stream to cool down in and refill water bottles and luckily several more streams along the way helped keep spirits up. But the day was another scorcher and the race suffered more casualties.

Day 4 was only 16km but the terrain was very rough as competitors headed into the Maze. “Today was as awesome as it was awful,” said Chris Lavallee. ” Straight up and straight down.  All day.  Each step more precarious than the last.  There were several deep water crossings that were spectacular, but the views today were worth the pain and suffering.” The start of the race was brutal with a technical rock climbing/boulder scramble for over 3 hours.  The ravine they were climbing appeared to go up vertically with the added obstacle of huge boulders. The medical staff were very firm about allowing people with injuries to start day 4 as the course was so rugged that in most places on this stretch even a helicopter would be unable to land.

“Its incredibly hard to cut through the pain and suffering caused by the sore feet, exhaustion, hot sun and humidity. But, I think it is even harder to quit when you see that lots of people around you are still pushing through and must have similar pains,” said Martijn Hoogerwerf.

To the relief of all remaining racers (more people had had to drop out of this race than any other RTP event) Day 5 finally dawned and there were only 117 people left. 100kms faced the remaining eventers and this included the 1st 10kms out of the maze – which took about 2.5hrs for the leaders and then there was still another 90kms through the bush!

This was thankfully followed by a much needed day of rest and as the whole event had been so much tougher than expected  the final stage, stage 6,  was reduced to 5kms. You might be thinking… ‘well, that’s not so tough’… but after the previous few days and with severely blistered feet, swollen feet, twisted ankles, cuts, bruises and rashes, extreme body exhaustion – 5 kms would be like a marathon to the rest of us. The top runners had already secured their positions and so they trotted home allowing other competitors to sprint past in a bid for the chance to win that final 5 km sprint accolade.

“This was the toughest thing I have ever done – physically and mentally, including RTP: Namibia 2010. There was not one time I contemplated giving up but there were a few times on the long day I thought my body would fail me. For my 71:22 hours of sheer hell but also extreme pleasure of actually being on the course, I finished 19th out of 46 woman, while almost 40% (of the total field) dropped out.said Kim James.

Nathan Wilson put into print his appreciation of the race: “Thanks to everyone involved with Racing the Planet Australia 2010. Thanks to the organisers, the volunteers, the competitors, and my tent mates. The race was a fantastic experience and a great way to experience the Kimberley with an amazing group of people. It was my first event of this kind, and it was a fantastic learning experience, and a very enjoyable experience overall.”

If you can still sound like that after completing one of the most gruelling race anyone has ever done, the experience can’t be too bad can it?

George Chmiel sums it up perfectly, “People continually ask why would you do this to yourself?  Are you insane/suicidal?  Why wouldn’t you rather just relax on the beach for vacation?  But until you experience a journey like this firsthand and then take a step back to let it sink in then it’s impossible to really understand.  The highlight of the week again for me was the people I met, the remote territory we explored and the relationships I built.”

Congratulations to everybody who entered this event.

The next RacingThePlanet event is their annual Gobi March starting the 27th June.

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