There is nothing like “Too Salty” after you experience this race.
NO SALT IS NEVER ENOUGH.
I am one of the first people who registered this race when I found out my running crew (RUNDAMENTAL) is arranging a weekend trip there. At that time, It was not this hot so I found myself changing my thoughts every single minute when it got hotter and hotter. At the end of every day, I had a different decision about going or staying.
1-It was way too far away, It would take about 10 hours by bus – one way!
2-It would be too hot: Running, spending time before-after the race, sleeping could be a torture.
3-No hotels! For someone like me, who can be quite self-indulgent sometimes, it seemed like a nightmare to me. How would I sleep in an open tent of 20 people and how about insects and mosquitos?
4-Showers? Toilets? Water? Food?
5-The camp area and route were changed 2 days before the race due to government decisions and would it be allright? Would it be “Salty” enough?
Too many questions in head, I motivated myself by thinking: “You are healthy, just do it because you can. You can never know the answers staying at home and you waited for this for a full year.
Friday: one day before the race:
I packed my sleeping bag, mat, a luggage of clothes for extra hot weather and cold 2 nights, and packed some energy gels, bars, nuts any food that would not go bad for 2 days. We set off with a big bus on Friday morning, arrived at 18:10 by just missing 100 miles start, left the bags into huge tents (beautiful) and got the race kits (took around 4 minutes at most-super easy) walked around the stands, greeted some familiar faces and soaked into the excitement of next days big race. Checked the mobile bathrooms and toilets, quite clean and equipped, even hot water is supplied.
The camping area was on a soil ground, when you walk a km or so, you reach the pure white lake to walk on. Some people tested it. Luckily, Friday night was Bloody Moon night, we watched it.
Wow, toilet queues! The fear of not being able to “sort out” your problem on the endless white salt lake during the race, we all thought we should do it now, so it took some of my warming up and calming down time but I do not really mind as I already aimed for a slow race.
All groups except 100 miles were supposed to start at 8.00, but the organizers changed it in order from 42 to 10 k, with 10 mins blank in between. So we, half marathon runners, started around 8.20. It was such happy moments, although I tried to slow down, I could not, this affected me after 15k (looks like most felt it after 15k) but I was still very strong at the end.
The check point at 11 km was supposed to have only water, but there was some fruits too. I just looked around and went running, my backpack which had electrolytes in was enough for the whole race for me. It was not humid, I did not sweat like in Istanbul, but of course you can feel you need water, running under the sun (Luckily there were some clouds which gave us some breaks)
15k was difficult for most as you kind of see the soil camping part, endless white starts to have a “finish” ahead: you run, you run but looks like you cannot get closer. That feeling demotivates you, that part is kind of running on a treadmill, the challenge is there, I think. Better you run with some people and talk to them, I did so, which slowed me down but I did not mind.
My aim was not to care about the time, or the pace. I had planned to only enjoy the moment and aim for a healthy finish. That is what I did. 🙂
Saturday night, we waited in dark for 100 miles runners to finish, that was amazing!
Rather than telling what happened, I would like to use the best adjectives I know for Salt Lake but realise none is enough to depict those moments.
Other things to mention
Organizers provided water, tea, coffee for free, for 7/24 hours (at least through the time I was awake) Sometimes water finished in the bathrooms but there was always someone around to whom you can report and finds solutions for your problems.
There were no mosquitos or bugs.
I cannot wait for another 365 days to go there!