I am sitting here in the lobby (the only place with access to the internet) of the Yin Du Hotel in Urumqi. I’m beginning to feel the excitement, nervousness and trepidations of race day. Many of the competitors, some I now know well, are shuffling in, exhausted from their international flights. Urumqi, which means “Beautiful pasture” in the local Mongolian language, is about a 4-hour flight from Beijing. In another day and a half we will board a bus for a 2-hour drive to our first campsite. It is there where we settle in to our assigned tents, meet our tent mates and begin to unpack for the first time. We will pack and unpack at least seven more times before the race is over. Each day we will have to determine whether specific items are essential to the voyage (and worth the pack weight) and put them into the overflow area or trash. It truly is amazing to find what you can live without - especially when it boils down to your ease of movement versus trudging along with unnecessary weight. You learn that those extra goodies, typically enjoyed at the beginning of the race, are items you can live without.
For me, one of the highlights of this race will be running through the small towns and villages and meeting the people from this region. Within the Turpan Basin, the population is made up mostly of Han Chinese with large numbers of Uyghurs, Hui, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. This area has been closely guarded by the Chinese government due to its distance from Beijing and, as a result, has seen very few outsiders exploring freely. It is the second lowest point on the Earth’s surface, after the Dead Sea, and is surrounded by mountain ranges including the central Tian Shan, the Bogda Shan, the Haerlike Shan, and the Jueluotage Shan.
I can’t wait to receive your emails and hope you will continue to follow my progress this next week. My promise to you is not to fall off the radar screen as I did in the Atacama. Even if I am exhausted, I will post a short blog to give you a sense of where I’m at both physically and mentally. My only request to you…please share our website to anyone you know and encourage them to join us in the “Recovery Movement” by donating whatever they can to help us spread the word and provide a “Second Chance” to those less fortunate.
Until next time, keep DREAMING BIG along with me.