In any endeavour we have moments of doubt, moments when we questions our own drive, ability, sanity. Will it be worth the time we have committed to achieving the goal? Will it have been worth the time if we don’t?
The Altas was looming only days away, I was out on the trail again, putting in my miles…or rather hours, I contemplated my out. Only the most extreme of extremes would permit me to take the proverbial “knee,” defer, bow out honorably. Not just any excuse would work. I got a boo-boo, NO. Cat has fleas, NO. Lost toenail, NO. Didn’t train enough, NO. Illness, NO. Cougar Attack, YES! I would most definitely survive a cougar attack. I heard this tip one time about going for the eyes and dig with the fingers. Yes, I would definitely survive, and with a dignified reason for not running 175 miles in Africa.
The emotional recovery of my last hairbrained sufferfest took much longer to than my physical state. For a time, I was afraid of the rain, wind, dark, mountains, trails. Wind shuddered through my brain like a shockwave. And yet it only took one facebook post from a “friend in common” and there I was again inspired. The Altas Mountains requested me as a friend…I accepted.
Trans Atlas Marathon
285 km (175 miles)
14000+meters of UP
Now, how do you run a stage race?
Easy, follow the red, or orange, or white dotted rocks, that may or may not have been washed away by the mountain rain, and then do that again the next day, and the next, and the next….. Just don’t follow the blue. This path was set forth by a true legend in the ultra running world. M0hamed Ahansal, a Moroccan with a smile that consumes his face and easily your heart. He takes you over some of the most rugged, rarely visited, remote aspects of the Atlas,through all that the unforgiving peaks force upon the unsuspecting traveler. The course wanders its way up, up, up and over the sun crisped, wind shattered cols “Tizi’s” and then drops abruptly into the abyss of the valley and villages below.
But first, I had to escape the whizzing motorbikes, zipping petite taxis, fast talking souk owners, and henna profiteers of Marrakech. I arrived, my first two days in isolation, listening to the rich languages filling the air around me. My mono-lingual self was a perpetual observer and unsuspecting victim of a henna troller in the Medina. Overwhelmed, overstimulated, jet-lagged, sun fried; with 30 dollars less in my pocket and floral patterned hand, I retreated to the safety of my Riad terrace.
…to be continued