10 Mar

Joasia Takes Early Lead In Desert

You may recall that we reported that the winner of the women's race at the recent Jack Crawford Cup had been Dumfries RC's Joasia Zakerzewski who was using the race in preparation for the gruelling Atacama Crossing in the dry desert of Chile. Well Jo has been keeping www.scottishrunningguide.com up to date on her progress.

Race Delayed and Kit Lost

When she arrived in San Pedro de Atacama she was advised that the race was delayed by a day because of the devastation caused to the country by the recent earthquake, however organisers decided to keep the distance and the finishing time as planned, meaning that the 'rest' afternoon would be removed from the schedule. Stage five will therefore finish at noon and stage six will start at 3pm the same day! If this wasn't bad enough Jo was the sole athlete to have their bag go missing, meaning that she had eight hours to beg and borrow some of kit, make stuff up and purchase a pair of two year old men's trainers, two sizes too big for her, as there were none in the town in her size. Hardly surprisingly Jo reported to us that she was 'Not Happy!"

Hot and Cold

It was very hot, 31C in the shade and 41C in the sun at San Pedro de Atacama but literally freezing, at 0C, up at an altitude of 4200m by the geysers when Jo and the others made their way to the desert to compete the first stage of the world famous race.

Jo's the Leader!

After a sombre minute remembering the victims of the Chilean earthquake, Atacama Crossing 2010 kicked off. Much of the first day's course was on trails and the front runners were able to cover it at a considerable pace. Quite a few competitors were affected by the altitude however Jo, in her first endurance race, obviously benefitted from training in the Galloway Hills as she emerged as the surprise leader in the women's division.

Jo finished in eighth overall position for the day in 4:23, ahead of a strong field which included Ireland's Diana Hogan-Murphy the second woman across the line in 4:50 (Diana won the women's race at the Gobi March 2009), third in 5:00 was Erica Terblanche, the South African who won the women's Sahara Race 2009.

You can follow Jo and send her messages of support here
She's competitor number 156.

Photos here