We had a window period in which we had to complete this journey. The first being March, April, May, although getting a bit hot it could be done. The second was August, September, October, but longer than this we would be heading into winter and temperatures which would really be dangerous and cold.
Due to lack of finance we missed the first window period as well as a bit of the second, things were getting tight, but finally we managed to get started on the 24th August about 1 month later than anticipated. The desert temperatures were quite bearable, just an odd day into the 40 mark, the rest hovered around 28 – 35 this made the running a pleasure. There were the odd days that the heat was unbearable, but we were entering into the autumn and as well as this we were heading east which speeded up the process. All of our training in SA was done in our cooler winter months so the initial week was quite a heat shock to us but we quickly got used to it. Our main worry was the approaching winter. Being from South Africa the heat favoured us; the cold was to be another story.
Well into our second month we could feel the bit in the air on the odd morning as well as this as soon as we got over 2 500 meters in altitude we could feel how the temps were really starting to drop, no more running in vests, a wind breaker became essential. It was as if we had landed in a different zone, we woke one morning and we could feel that things had suddenly changed, the wind direction was no longer from behind, but now to our left and it was cold. 3 days later the black clouds rolled in and the next day without warning the snow came, first on the high mountains around us. From here on the temperatures just plummeted. It was not long and the rivers started to freeze over. The trees seemed to discard their leaves overnight and then the ground froze over in the mornings. As we pushed on so the lakes surfaces started to freeze more and more, until they were a solid sheet of ice. In a was this helped us on our journey as we no longer had to find a way around lakes and rivers, but could now just cross them, but with caution.
The cold however brought other problems, less time that we could run during the day as well as more dangerous conditions due to snow covering our footing as well as dealing with sub zero temperatures. This also meant no more sleeping in tents because at -15 & -20 it was too dangerous. This meant finding villages to sleep in, this was not always possible. Food also became a problem as the fresh vegetables we were relying on were no longer available, only frozen Chinese cabbage. This meant relying more and more on supplements. As well as the extra energy required to keep going, the cold seemed to suppress our appetite so we had to make sure that we made a conscious effort to eat.