Saturday, 12 January 2008

8th Jan 08

Date: 8th Jan
Location: Gorges du Todra
Weather: 18°c max, 0°c min
Status: Ben – Well exercised and happier, Colonel – rolling along just fine

End of day location: Gorges du Dades
Distance covered: 110kms

Awoke as the sun rose around 06.30hrs very reluctantly as the inside of my sleeping bag was ten times more appealing than the thought of going running outside, but finally managed to drag myself from my pit.

Headed up the gorge parallel to the river which went from an ice covered pool to a running stream to a dry bed all in the space of 5kms, the imposing sides of the gorge directing me to the village of Tamttatouche 12kms away and uphill the whole way!

As I rose through the valley the frost became heavier and the snowline closer and closer until I was into it and felt pretty stupid for leaving the tent in a pair of shorts. I started my run at 1500m and over the 12kms rose some 250m so by the time I got to the village my Xmas-laden legs were really feeling it, together with the altitude which made me feel like finishing the Marrakech Marathon a long way off.

There’s a good bit of training left to do in the next few weeks if I stand a real chance of reaching the finish line in a reasonable time, the ascent of Toubkal at 4170m should go someway to helping anyway.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day that Owen arrived in the country to start the mission proper, but I’ve had an email from him telling me that work commitments are too much to break away and therefore he won’t be arriving until the 25th leaving my rather stranded in the meantime so it looks at this stage like I’ll be climbing Toubkal and running the marathon by myself, oh well I’ve gone this far another few weeks won’t matter as long as he makes it ready for the west coast journey it’ll be fine.

I’ve been in touch with a great friend Luke Marshall whose managed to keep to his agenda and side of the bargain (Owen take note) and has arrived in Marrakech today for a 3 week break with his mum, so over the next couple of days we’ll make our way to the capital and hook up with them to plan what the next 3 weeks will hold for us all, bring it on.

Tonight we’re holed up in another hotel in a spectacular gorge and the Colonels parked up next to the river, the suns already gone down and the temperatures dropped away sharply from about 15°c to 8°c, still should be warmer than last night as we’re about 400m closer to sea level. As I tried to fix one of my fog lights earlier by the water a group of local kids gathered round to watch and giggle away as I worked, all of them left after a while except one girl who started to speak to me in French so we had a chat about her life and family and what I was doing in Morocco. Her eyes lit up when I gave her one of the bottles of bubbles I’d brought for a situation just like that and she happily marched off blowing them all the way home, then 20mins later she arrived back with a small black bag in her hand full of fresh mint so I could make my own mint tea – the local speciality!

Loving the friendliness of the people and enjoying every opportunity to integrate and find out more about them as I wind my way down through the country, this is what travelling is all about!

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