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BIRTHDAY IN THE PERU DESERT

I AM TAKING A REST DAY/OFFICE DAY TODAY SATURDAY 21ST.
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THE PERU DAILY LOG HAS BEEN UPDATED. PRESS HERE TO VIEW DETAILS OF EVERY DAY SO FAR IN PERU.
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I STILL GOT SOME CATCHING UP ON THE BLOG BUT THOUGHT IT WOULD BE BETTER TO BLOG THIS NOW.
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April 20th I woke up early. I had wanted to make an early start but like so many days it’s so hard getting out of bed. It was 4am.
I love what I am doing running around the world, I got to treat this like a job, like a professional otherwise it wont get done.
No matter how much I love this it doesn’t get any easier.
Now I am a year older. I was asleep when the clock struck my 55th birthday. This is my second on the road. Last year I took a rest day in Telluride, Colorado. Next year I should be in Australia, then the following one close to Europe. Two down and two to go, looks like I am making progress on this crawl around the world.
I lay in bed for another two hours and when daylight shone through I looked out my hotel bedroom window, out across the glorious promenade over at the beach. I had first sighted the Pacific coast about four days  ago.
THE VIEW FROM MY HOTEL BEDROOM WINDOW
Yes it would be nice to take a rest day but then I remembered how I had dreamt of getting into the hard-core part of this run, I had dreamt of this for over twenty years. I gotta spend at least one birthday on the road, the road of dreams. So it has to be today.
 
Yesterday I finished at a shop in Choa, just before kilometre 501. The lady there had told me that the next village was about 30km away. I asked if the buses stopped between the villages on the road. No she had told me. The drivers are afraid to stop to pick up passengers.
 A late start and an energy sapping hot, humid desert run. 18km was all I had to show for that day. The nice lady in the shop had given me two bottles of water and refused payment. As I was packing away my sun protection gear, my sleeves, bandana, desert hat, gloves I felt like Batman making a costume change. Just about everyone, especially the children continue to stare and laugh, like I am a clown.

It is normal for security guards to follow me around supermarkets when I arrive wearing my costume of bulging pockets. Even some shop attendants jump out from behind their counters to see what I want, and sometimes I don’t even know what I want myself, just something sweet.
So I commuted the 66km back from my hotel in Chimbote back to the shop this morning. Unfortunately the nice lady was not there, she had asked me how old I was. Then when I asked her if she meant today or tomorrow, we laughed and she had wished me a happy birthday, I don’t know if that’s why she had given me the water.
Peru is the first country I am buying water in. I am told that unlike all the other 12 countries I have run across that the locals don’t drink the water. The water pipes are infected. Unfortunately Peru is also the dirtiest and most polluted country on the run. That’s a story for another blog posting.
Another late start and the next village of sorts where I can expect a bus to stop at days end is about 45km away.
Right from the start it was a hot humid slog, this desert running is tough stuff. To my left and right there are dozens of sand dunes and mountains in the distance. The road I am running is almost flat. I was told this was a lonely, quiet road! Well not exactly, there are almost as many trucks here as in Colombia.
I still got my two metre shoulder. I need it as the headwind and the trucks are blowing me back onto the gravel and sometimes even into the sand.

I KEEP GETTING BLOWN ONTO THE GRAVEL BY THE STRONG HEADWIND AND TRUCKS

At least when it was windy it gave me a break from the hot sun. Trucks keep blowing my desert hat off, eventually I put my headphones over it, that keeps the hat on.
After 3km I meet Martin from eastern Germany.

MARTIN FROM GERMANY

Martin has just started a short cycling trip from Lima to Venezuela, about three months. We chat for about fifteen minutes. He asks me if there are any restaurants or shops in Viru. He has a decent map which he brought from Germany. He is surprised when I tell him there is a small town only 3 km away, not on his map. This doesn’t surprise me at all, Latin America seems to have gotten a raw deal when the map Gods where creating them. I don’t bother with them as most of my routes are just straight ahead. When it gets a bit complicated I just make a quick sketch with the aid of Google maps for about a week on the road, confirming it when I am online. Besides you cant get them here, the last map stand I saw was in Mexico City.

THERE IS SOME IRRIGATION IN PLACES. I CAME ACROSS SOME SUGAR CANE FARMS AND A VINEYARD!

The going is really tough now, real energy sapping stuff. I drink frequently and pee fairly clearly almost as much. I am also taking High 5 Zero Salts electrolyte hydration tabs. Other than whacked I am feeling on top of things and there are no danger signs. I am carrying a waterbottle in each hand and a couple more in my satchel, plus 3 small 200ml bottles in my pockets.
I don’t know what the temperature is, I guess the high 30′s C, it doesn’t matter that’s just a number, the humidity is the real killer.
On I go and within that first 16km I have picked up a couple of bottles of water I placed by kilometre markers yesterday.
 ’ Placed ‘ not exactly what I did, I threw them from the bus window when commuting from Chimbote. When I do this I like to get on my running side of the bus right at the back and throw discreetly.The problem with this method was trying to place them accurately as the bus sped down the desert highway.  Lesson learned here is to tape the caps on as some cracked or just popped off on impact with a rock or hard gravel. I then wrote down on a piece of paper which kilometre markers I did that at, also the bottles location in relation to the km marker, left, right, behind etc. More important when there is grass around but here it’s just sand so they were easy to see. It’s tough and challenging to run around the world without a support vehicle!
I was getting ready to do this last week when I saw a woman toss wrappers and plastic bottles out of the window. What did I do? I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her why she did that as it was a dirty thing to do! Then I realised what I was about to do!
How could I explain without being a hypocrite? I have made a pact with myself that for every bottle that goes astray, (about 30-40%) or that I cant find that I carry out at least two of someone else’s discarded bottles. Sort of my carbon footprint of sorts.
So after only 16km I decided to finish up for the day, I was worried about spending my birthday sleeping behind a sand dune. Within about fifteen minutes I managed to stop a bus. The driver called Manuel and his young helper Vincent told me they saw me on the road the day before and wondered what I was up to. Surely if drivers are afraid to stop they can see I am no threat, especially if they have seen me running on the road before. Here as in most of Latin America I have had drivers pulling over for me only to take off again. Thankfully these guys had more common sense than other drivers.
They offered me their lunch which I declined.  I told Manuel. ” Today is my birthday and tonight I am looking for a big…..”
” Peruvian woman! ” He interupted.
” No more important, I am looking for a big steak restaurant tonight. ” So he got on his mobile phone and called a friend. They recommended a place called Recu Tecu.

MANUEL GETS ON HIS MOBILE LOOKING FOR THE ADDRESS FOR A GOOD STEAK DINNER. THEY OFFERED ME THEIR LUNCH WHILE I SAT IN THE CAB. I GOT ENOUGH FOOD AND WATER IN MY RED SATCHEL.

So after washing all the sand out of my hair I took a taxi over there. Closed! It seems restaurants, at least the plush ones close around 6pm or earlier. I ended up having a nice combo meat grill in a place called Titanic and sunk into my delicious meal. It was not a let down.
Yes it was a Happy Birthday, living my dream.
 

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3 Responses to “BIRTHDAY IN THE PERU DESERT”

  1. kevin scanlon Says:

    happy belated birthday tony. enjoyed the water bottle story…..it is awesome what you have to do to get by!!!! kevin

  2. Ann Says:

    Great read and photos Tony. Glad you had a good birthday. Take care:)

  3. Sandie Says:

    Omg I love this vision of you whipping bottles out the bus windows!

    Sandie in Maine

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About Tony

I have always considered myself to be an average runner. In school, I was even bullied for I was a sports wimp. Through hard work, dedication, perseverance, self-belief and a strong mind I succeeded in not only running around the world but breaking four ultra running world records during my competitive career. Having previously cycled around the world I didn't start running until I was almost 30. Then I had a dream of running around the world. For many reasons, I waited for over 20 years. One reason was to establish my pedigree as an endurance athlete. I started and finished my world run as the current World Record-Holder for 48 Hours Indoor Track 426 kilometres (265 miles), a record I have held since 2007. I also broke and still hold the World Record for 48 hours on a Treadmill 405 kilometres (251 miles) in 2008. When I retired from competition, more pleasing than any of my world, European or Irish records I had the respect of my fellow athletes from all over the world - in my opinion, sports greatest reward - an achievement I am most proud of. Then I finally put myself out to pasture, to live my ultimate dream to run around the world! This blog was written on the road while I struggled to find places to sleep and to recover from running an average of 43.3 kilometres or 27 miles per day for 1,165 road days. There were many nights I typed this blog on a smart phone, so fatigued my eyes closed. Many journalists and endurance athletes have referred to my world run as the most difficult endurance challenge ever attempted. During my expedition I rarely had any support vehicles, running mostly with a backpack. In the more desolate areas I pushed my gear, food and water in a cart which I called Nirvana, then I sent her on ahead to run with my backpack once again over altitudes of almost 5,000 metres in the Andes. I stayed in remote villages where many people had never seen a white person before. I literally met the most wonderful people of this world in their own backyard and share many of those amazing experiences in this blog. My run around the world took 4 years. There were no short cuts, I ran every single metre on the road while seeking out the most comprehensive route across 41 countries, 5 continents, I used 50 pair of running shoes and my final footstep of the run was exactly 50,000 kilometres, (almost 31,000 miles) I eventually finished this tongue in cheek named world jog where I started, at the finish line of my city marathon. I started my global run with the Dublin Marathon on October 25th 2010 and finished with the Dublin Marathon on October 27th 2014 at 3 05pm! Thank you for your support, I hope you can share my unique way of seeing the world, the ultimate endurance challenge! Read more...

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