Wimborne Athletic Club

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Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon 2012

Annie Dougall reports on her 7-day 250km adventure.

This is a 250km multi-stage race over seven days in the Kalahari desert. Competitors have to be self-sufficient and carry all their own food and kit for the event apart from water which is supplied daily at check points, and over-night camp is pitched daily by organisers. Backpacks weighed 12-15kg on Day 1. Temperatures ranged this year from 50 degrees Celsius to single figures at night! Seven Sembcorp group employees took part this year with a total target to raise around £250,000 for various charities.

I looked up the definition of the word extreme … extending far beyond the ‘normal’!! Extreme sport … difficult, dangerous, severe, drastic … ! My definition of dried food for seven days is probably unprintable?! It was all of the above however it was also fun, enjoyable and a huge sense of achievement and I made many strong friendships especially among the other six members of the Sembcorp team!! We were called the ‘Magnificent Seven’ by the end of the week!

The days consisted of early starts, check points with lovely crews who supplied us with fresh water, shady space to sort out feet and obligingly poured water over our heads as we left … the best feeling in the world at that point! Camp consisted of a lot of low gazebo tents joined together and resembled a war zone mostly. The sounds of the night were different outside the tent and inside…. 

The terrain varied from deep sandy riverbeds, rocky trails, steep climbs up rock faces clambering like baboons on all fours (they could be heard laughing at our efforts) and even a knotted rope on day 3. It was hilly, very, very hot and often 'deserted'! I looked around on several occasions and there was no one insight and I was completely alone in the desert except for the wildlife that could not be seen but heard … fantastic experience.

The after-race party was a just such a fantastic celebration for us all, a great feeling of achievement and bonds with fellow competitors … oh and lots of real food and wine from Namaqua, one of the sponsors who are a wine company … result!

It is a great feeling to have been given this opportunity by Sembcorp and the support and assistance has been second to none and I'm very happy that local charity, John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation, and WaterAid have been so well supported by colleagues here and by others who I don't even know. A big thanks to you all!!

It’s the toughest thing I've ever done! Would I do it again … what do you think?  Of course I would.



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