I am now in Southern Colombia, over 10,000km from Canada and getting close to the Ecuadorian border. To get here I have run the length of America, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. I have pushed my running stroller across deserts, over mountain ranges and through some pretty stunning scenery. I have slept in fields, industrial parks, beaches, garages and on the odd lucky occasion have been welcomed into 5 star hotels! Everywhere I have been I have been looked after by amazing people. Not a day passes when people don’t enquire about what I am doing or try to help me get to my final destination. There is no denying it, people are drawn to those who are pushing themselves to the limit and there is something about running that seems to spark people’s intrigue.
In this blog I outline the last stage of my journey (see map above) so it sets the stage for the next 5-6 months and the blogs that go with it. As I write this I am in a town called El Bordo in southern Colombia. It is a very typical rural town for this part of Colombia. The streets are full of hustle and bustle with shops selling chickens, motorbikes, sugary breads, beer and pretty much anything that is not considered healthy! I am thousands of kilometres from my destination and there are so many hurdles to conquer. I will climb over 72,000m which is over 8 times the height of Everest, and then descend a little more to sea level in Buenos Aires. The image below depicts the altitude over the course of my run. I try not to look at it too often as it scares the hell out of me!
Right now I am preparing for the climb to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This will be my first foray into the Andes, the longest continental mountain range in the world. Quito is about 2800m high but before I start my descent to Peru I will reach over 3500m. To put that into perspective Ben Nevis, the highest point in the UK, is only 1344m.
The next obstacle to overcome is the Sechura Desert which runs the length of Peru. This is the most extensive desert strip in South America and runs about 2000km. Here I will have to learn about camping in the desert and how to obtain water on a regular basis. I drink about 6-7 litres a day and will need to push this at all times – remember I don’t have a support team with an ice box in the boot of a 4X4.
Once I have emerged from the Sechura desert (above) I enter the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. In some parts of the Atacama rain fall has never been recorded and it is regarded as one of the driest costal deserts in the world. I am strangely really excited about this part of my expedition. People pay thousands of pounds to run marathons across small sections, I am just going to turn up and give it a crack!
About a third of the way through the Atacama Desert (above) I am going to swing a left and start my crossing of the Andes Mountains to get to my final country, Argentina. The highest point of the crossing will be around 4800m. Again to give this context airplanes switch on cabin pressurisation at 3800m to protect crew and passengers from the risk of a number of physiological problems caused by the low outside air pressure above that altitude. I think I will have to take it slowly on this section!
After that it’s a nice long downhill of about 1700km to Buenos Aires where I will hopefully enjoy one of the best steaks of my life.
Obviously this means I will constantly need to adapt and learn new techniques but I believe I can do it and hopefully with everyone’s continued support I will manage to get safely to the end of my expedition on time and in one piece.