The Gobi – plod
Change. Such a simple word but with such a vast spectrum of influence in its path. How the change of terrain has affected us. In the space of a few hundred meters from the incredible desert, down the plateau onto the river flood plain. Gone are the awe inspiring views, which absorbed time ,each day wisped away and transformed into a memory etched into my mind that I may never forget. The kms just evaporated things have changed with the decent down that red parched dust wall of the plateau onto the fertile soil below, where a meager existence is irked out of every square meter of arable land tilled by hand and still ploughed by oxen.
We are now nearing the end of the second week, in a day it will be the rest day, one can feel that your body needs it. 6 days on the trot you do take a pounding as well as this we have now done 403km. The team is settling into a nice rhythm. Every one knows what to do and what to expect. The communication is crazy. The Austrians only speak their dialect to all , Braam and I chat in English and the rest of the crew Chinese, I wish you could hear it, but we all understand what’s going on, most of the time. No wonder were always looking for the support crew in the evening!
The past 5 days in the dry desert river basin have been hard going, Village after village, each a carbon copy of the previous one, hot, dusty and very rural. Mud brick homes, simple, in orderly rows each home piled with dry mielie stalks and hay, packed onto the roof for winter grazing which is around the corner. In the morning we can feel the first of winters talons being sharpened in the cold crisp dew laden morning air. Running through this dry parched wasteland, there are no views to help the monotony of the journey, it is one dust encrusted foot step after the next, exploding as it embeds itself in the fine powder sand below. Clouds of fine sand dust envelope your running shoe as the dust rolls aside in the wash of the little vortex caused by your legs moving forward.
In order to maintain this relentless task ,we have developed the” Gobi plod “ or “The Sand Skoffel” km after km. ( the plod, as we fondly know it, is our 125 heart beat per min run that we have worked out, you can go for ever)It reminds me of my days training on Table mountain with Hamish , 3 sessions a day, but you just had to get them behind you..
Braam and I have found that over the past few days we have talked an incredible amount, we have basically started back in our childhood having have had so many common friends along the way but we only met in 20s.Our children have such common ground.. This journey seems to be forcing me to take a journey back in time through my own life, looking at aspects that were easier to pass over, but along this road there is no escape, time is forcing me to deal with my own life’s wall, slowly walking the hard miles within myself.
My thoughts are with my daughter Tamlin who is on her way to help with the first Operation Smile mission in KZN. I think of her , already in her 20 years having just conquered her own personal wall of hell. Getting up, shaking off the dust to be there for us.You make me proud!
” How I wish I could just hug you , hold you ,just for 5 seconds. Be strong my girl” the worst thing that you are going to have to face is to say NO to one of the children whose only wish in life is that to smile”