Category Archives: Kit

The desert has us now….

As everyone around will know I seem unable to talk about anything except the desert at the moment. Luckily a lot of this talk happens on training runs with my MDS buddies. This blog consists of a couple of emails which I received from John (JB) yesterday and today. They are a great example of what the race is doing to us! So reproduced with JB’s permission…..

Monday 23rd Feb. 18:54 Subject: Playtime

Sara away.
Radiator off.
Window open.
Time to play…. Deserts!!

photo

And the outcome of playing deserts

Tuesday 24th Feb. 14:35 Subject: Playtime

The wife was away and so it was time to play sleeping in the desert last night!!

The forecast was 3-4°c overnight with a good breeze in the air and so I set up camp early in the evening choosing a generous area of sandy coloured carpet, I turned off the radiator and opened all the windows to let the room cool and then I chilled downstairs next to the wood burner until bed time.
I’d debated (with myself of course as even the dogs are fed up of MdS talk) about wether to use my sleeping mat, as the inch of thick twill 80/20 and underlay would be better than I’d expect in the Sahara, but decided I’d try it anyway. 
At bedtime the old thermometer I’d found told me it was 10°c, a lot warmer than it felt and I hoped that time had made it inaccurate. 
I wiggled my way into my zip less, borrowed “it’ll suit ya down t’ground that lad. It weren’t cheap and its proper down ya know” sleeping bag and drew the hood tight at about 11pm.
My head was resting on my full pack all was lovely. Comfy and cosy until at least 11:02!!
BUGGER!!
I sleep on my side and was feeling ever rib I have, but hey I’m a roughy, toughy desert runner so I doubled over the long mat (which I’d intended to cut down before the race) and drifted off to sleep for couple of hours.
My minuscule bladder, back ache, stiff neck and sore ear woke me at about 1:30. 
The room felt freezing on my trip to the loo (no I didn’t go into the garden as I didn’t want to wake the dogs) but the ageing thermometer hadn’t budged.
I squirmed my way back into the bag almost twisting a knee (bags, tight spaces and tired legs are going to require care and practice) but couldn’t settle. 
The pack/pillow was just too uncomfortable. So I stuffed t-shirt in the sleeping bag stuff sack and surprisingly that was enough to solve the issue. 
Having doubled up the sleeping mat earlier I now folded it to 3 layers. It was finally sufficient padding but now too short!!
As I fought my way back to sleep I wondered if I was getting cooler and the next bladder alarm at 3:30 told me I was. 
The thermometer stubbornly insisted it was still 10°c as I squirmed back in to the chilled bag. I needed more warmth but surely not. I was inside at 10°c ‘apparently’. In the race I could use my race/camp kit I suppose and use the tiny pertext wind top I’m taking but I didn’t have this to hand.
Resisting the king size bed I reached out to find the Yorkshire flag that might find its way to the finish line depending on my final pack weight and hey presto, a sheet. 
I stuffed it into the bag on top of me and it did the trick. I slept again until 5:30 when I didn’t give in…… “NEVER EVER GIVE IN” …. but I concluded that there was nothing more to be gained from my experiment. 
Having learned valuable lessons I climbed into the marshmallow giving the pillows an extra plump and doubled over the 13.5tog quilt and fleecy blanket on top of me. Bliss!
So what had I learnt:
My sleeping bag might not be adequate alone. I need buy a liner as I will have limited kit to layer up.
I need to stop being tight and buy a proper sleeping mat and give the wife her exercise mat back!! Sleep=recovery!!
I can tolerate using my pack as a pillow but need to take time to get things right. 
What did I already know:
I’m always cold in bed. (So why have I fought against a liner. Listening to the advise of others and what works for them doesn’t always work for you. An extra layer obviously works for me)
I’m 53 and have 2 discs missing from my back (So why haven’t I bought a decent mat)
I’m a thrifty Yorkshireman (but that’s a good thing)
I pee a lot in the night (So need to be organised and careful getting into a sleeping bag)
What can we all learn:
Be honest about what you can live without.
Examine yourself today. (Your not the person you used to be or think you will suddenly become out in the desert.)
Test out ALL your kit even if it means looking a twit you need to learn lessons now not when it’s too late.
Early night tonight me thinks
Cheers JB.
Please take a look at my latest adventure. https://www.justgiving.com/John-Blyth/
What I have learnt from this:
(1) John will be allocated a position on the edge of the tent so he can get out to pee in the night!! and
(2) I ought to try out my sleeping bag, liner and mat on the stone floor at home and not on the sofa as I did a couple of weeks ago!
(3) The desert has taken JB too….
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