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Watch the marathon live

This Sunday, September 29, the fifth Chisinau International Marathon will be organized. This sporting celebration shall gather thousands of participants, who shall run their distance and fight for the title of “fastest runner”. The live stream of the race will be available on the official Chisinau Marathon Facebook page.

27 September, 15:53740
4 July, 13:17170

I Ran 400 Miles Through the Desert With 9 Strangers

Someone started boiling water to cook dinner. I felt a joke coming on. Not about the creepy dead middle school on our right, or the Instagram trap down the road, the campy half-dead Roy’s Motel Cafe. Something about not needing butane in the desert heat, but I was too tired to make words. I’d already run a half marathon today through 106-degree heat. Instead figuring out my punchline, I remained prone in the backseat of our support vehicle, pumping myself up for the next challenge: downing tonight's rice and curry.

The night's meal came while stopped in the recently abandoned Amboy, California, somewhere between the south entrance of Joshua Tree (our start) and the northwestern edge of Death Valley (our goal). It’s a broad, ambiguous stretch of highways and back roads that we had run ourselves into—374 miles of not quite nothing—but it doesn’t take long for the Mojave Desert to stretch out and put you in your place: You, and your companions, and even Roy's Motel Cafe, are just another tan speck in the middle of a vast nowhere.

Two weeks earlier I had bought a plane ticket to California. It was an impulse, but when a friend, Andy, asked me if I’d like to run across the Mojave from California to Nevada with 10 women—nine of whom I’d never met—I thought it to be the best worst idea I’d heard in ages. He put it to me like this:

“Hey Lauren, I’ve been thinking about how I have so many badass, smart friends who just happen to be women who love to run. And none of them really know each other and I’m the common denominator so I want to plan a trip for all my badass lady friends to meet each other and run together. Would you be down to take a weekend and run across the Mojave Desert with a bunch of awesome women?”

That's actually pretty sincere and cool. So I said yes, got a scorpion-proof sleeping bag, and queued up a Google Sheet so we could all exchange numbers and figure out how many avocados we’d need to fuel this, well…

desert running

desert running

It wasn't a race. I wouldn't even call it "an objective." That's much too serious for 11 gals running a self-imposed 374-mile relay across the desert. Regardless, when I walked into the Sprouts grocery in Riverside, California, on Friday night to buy heaps of snacks (Kettle chips and dried mango, FTW) and meet the rest of the group, I was nervous; even more so than I would be at an official race. What if I couldn’t handle my mileage in the heat? What if I didn’t make the other women laugh—or worse, made them dread three days stuck in the desert with me? Or, what if I found myself deep in the desert filled with dread that I was stuck with nine strangers for three days?

But it was too late to worry about that now, so I grabbed an extra bag of salt and pepper chips for emotional support and told my inner-Lauren to chill TF out.

Onward we went in our three-car support caravan filled with oatmeal, electrolytes, headlamps, tents, 37 avocados (sadly, not enough), a handle of emergency tequila, and about 150 shower wipes (also not enough). We found the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park and sent our first runner down the asphalt road with a high-five tunnel and some classic woo-girl “wooooos.”

We broke the relay into 6-mile legs. One woman ran while the other 10 shuttled the SUVs to the next exchange and snacked/yoga-ed/chugged water/power-napped while waiting. After another tag and round of “wooooos,” we'd start the shuttle all over again until breaking for five-ish hours of shut-eye at night. And despite our bodies’ constant demand for sunscreen and water, these are the moments where we lost inhibitions and found the fun.

We practiced twerking on the roadsides (sorry, mom, I instigated that one), licked salt off the ground of the Badwater Basin salt flats, laughed until we cried at the lowest point of America (literally), and ate tofu sofritas whipped up by Rebecca Murillo—who, in just a few weeks would take 2nd place at her first-ever 100 mile race, the San Diego 100. That’s an incredibly badass achievement, but she will forever be known first and foremost by the superlative of “Best Camp Chef” in my book and my heart. We named desert tortoises (Eustace was my favorite), and shared stories while we set up our roadside dinner camps.

One woman was getting ready to go back to school to get her graduate degree, one just went through a breakup and was moving across the country, one had competed in the Olympics and won the Western States 100, one lived on a boat in the San Francisco Bay for a year with her boyfriend, one helped see her partner through a cancer recovery, one quit her office job to produce films and write stories, and one has an Instagram-famous dog. Solidarity came fast and it came in handy.

On day two, we crossed into the Mojave National Preserve and the thermometer entered triple-digits by 11 a.m. My second leg of the day would start around 2 p.m., so I was thrilled when a breeze started to pick up. But by the time I hit the road, that breeze turned into an 18-mph headwind, akin to running at a full-body hair dryer for nearly an hour. It was the perfect personification of this desert: when you think you have some beautiful relief, it becomes brutal.

I suffered through my six miles but didn’t want to complain. I couldn’t. When you’re in a group of self-motivated, intuitive women who are all tired, hot, and yo-yoing between nausea and hanger in the exact same unforgiving environments and undergoing the exact same physical exertion, you can't be the first one to gripe. We all knew that this was an arduous, somewhat stupid task we had put upon ourselves. And we all also knew when you’re doing something you voluntarily signed up to suffer through, griping doesn’t work.

But Alex Borsuk (this Alex) had the remedy for our too-tired, too-hot, too-hungry bodies.

She blasted Mika's “Big Girl” and we DANCED. We shook, shimmied, jumped, twirled, and wiggled on the side of the Highway 127 and waved at semis and watched the heat wave right back at us as it wafted off the asphalt. We danced (admittedly not well), and we created our own senses of relief instead of calling it quits and grabbing the tequila.

This breakthrough led to another: When we weren’t dancing, we voluntarily doubled up and ran together for support. This wasn’t a race, we weren’t trying to set a record, and no one was making us finish this 400-mile run. But we all knew we wanted to finish this thing. Together.

So in the middle of our route, but for the first time in the relay, I wasn’t running alone into this hair dryer hell. I had Anna Callaghan next to me, plodding along a sunbaked dirt road lined in sage and blooming cacti. It was beautiful when you didn't hate it. And right now, with Anna beside me laughing about running farts and telling me stories about climbing in the Himalaya, I didn’t hate it at all.

desert running

On one particularly beautiful sunset-stretch of road outside of Death Valley, I ran next to Magda Boulet. She told me stories of running next to men in traditional Japanese garb during the Marathon des Sables, we nearly fell over laughing during a roadside-squat pee break, and she gave me plenty of sound advice when it comes to loving someone. All of a sudden, I was actually having fun—not even the Type 2 sort. Having no other cares in the world besides keeping my run partner company, made the miles go by just a little quicker, and convince our feet to keep moving.

On Sunday, day 3, we careened over the border of Nevada and back into California toward Death Valley National Park. With 50 miles in my legs, my adductors (those inner thigh muscles that keep us upright) felt like the fiery center of the sun from hours of running through sand, but I had the biggest shit-eating grin on my face. As soon as we made our way through Titus Canyon on the Nevada-California border, we would have done what we set out to do. Nights sleeping next to scorpions, pooping in catholes, buying ice at gas stations just to throw it at each other—it would all culminate into three days and 400 miles of trusting (and having fun with) 10 other runners/women/humans/new friends.

We ran the last miles as one big group of avocado- and potato-chip fueled hooligans—whooping, hollering, and cruising through Titus Canyon between massive walls that squeezed to just 20 feet apart and shot straight up to the sky. It was pretty easy to take my mind off my burning legs and reflect on our very arbitrary but very sweet accomplishment.

We didn't miss a single sunrise, saw every sunset, and caught each ray in between. Every morning started with oil slick coffee made on the side of the road and the knowledge that the only way to get out of the middle of the desert was the same way we came in—with our feet. And then, just like that, we made it to the end of the road.

desert running
It was far, it was sweaty, it was nearly 400 miles in the middle of America’s hottest desert. But it was also liberating, beautiful, fulfilling, and (get this) a good time. Like, Hell Yes, I'd do it again—just not too soon. There wasn't a mile that went by without a communal laugh. There also wasn't a mile that went by without some sort of pain thanks to the boiling heat and the aches and pains of all those miles. And that's the beauty of it: we planned for it to be hard, but we couldn’t plan for it to be three days of gas station dance parties, roadside sofrito feasts, and endless belly laughs.

source link runnersworld.com
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