High in Vietnam’s northwest lies the beautiful mountain town of Sapa. In the shadow of Mt Fansipan and 1,600 meters above sea level, Sapa started out as a retreat for French colonialists desperate to find respite from the heat and humidity of Hanoi and the plains of Vietnam.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite things about running ultra marathons is meeting people from a vast variety of backgrounds, all coming together with the common goal of finishing a race that is harder on the mind and body than most people can fathom. Even more so than during the Gobi March, there was an abundance of people throughout the race in Madagascar that I feel genuinely inspired by.
In the months following the 2013 Gobi March, when I struggled under the weight of a nearly 12 kilogram rucksack, I actively considered each item that I had brought with me. Many things I regretted, some items worked, and a few I wouldn’t have changed for the world. Earlier this year, taking into account what my post-Gobi feelings, Rich and I tried our best to change what we could, within reason, for the race in Madagascar.
Something that I did not mention in our recent article, Lessons from 2013 Gobi March: Preparing for a Multi-Stage Ultra Marathon, but is something that Rich and I feel deserves a fair amount of attention is foot care. When doing any type of running race, your feet are your most important asset. Cracked, swollen, and blistered feet can make your life difficult and very painful. Knowing how to take care of them, though, can significantly reduce the likelihood that you’ll need to pull out of a race, or spend the next few weeks watching your toenails rot and fall out.
Hitting up the waterfall trail near Taipo was a huge relief from the summer sun. Passing a small Buddhist temple, and running alongside a stream, the hilly, and sometimes steep trail was surprisingly green and unpolluted. Along the way up the trail, we encountered three waterfalls. As we know, I am not a fan of the heat and humidity and am very much looking forward to an Aussie winter, but finding this trail was huge. Except that we didn’t end up doing all that much hiking when we were there last weekend.