Our first night in the make shift Gers was “challenging”. I woke up at about 4am with what I was sure was frostbite. In the pitch black I felt confused and very fucking cold. I was wearing all my kit and my onepiece and I had put my North Face jacket on in my sleeping bag but still I felt freezing. The fire was on, and we had a native sleeping in our tent, making sure it didn’t go out. There was also a hole in the top of the tent to let smoke out. Being that cold makes you very confused - it feels a little like being drunk. I know I should have woken the boys up and got in with them but I didn’t I just lay there being cold and a bit scared. Our mattresses were just thrown on the floor and the cold was coming through them . I was going to have to change these sleeping arrangements for the next night.
After another fitful couple of hours, we were up at 7 am to organise kit and eat - this morning we had beef stew and frozen bread. It really was delicious. Really. It was.
Breakfast of kings…….
This morning view isn’t so bad I suppose.
Today we had a run of between 25-30 miles to the second island on the lake where we would spend our next night. The island looked pretty close. Yeah, I thought, we can manage that. But perception on ice is very much like perception in the sea. It was VERY far away.
Then mini disaster struck. My day pack that had all my kit for the days running (buffs, gloves, hats, food) had been put into one of the support vans accidently and was now halfway across the lake. I had no support pack! Shit! How can I run without this stuff? Easily it turns out….. people are kind. Darren lent me his buff and hat and I borrowed some gloves from Ian and jumped on a sledge. My plan was to chase down the van and get my pack and then get running. Problem with this was I wanted to complete the run on foot, not on pony, so I was going to have to make up the miles.
I jumped onto a sledge and was covered with fur by my driver and off we went - the ponies trotting fast across the ice, in search of the pack. It was awesome. I felt very ‘Game of Thrones’. After a couple of KMs I realised my pack was too far away. I wanted to run, and I thought I would be able to do this in the little kit I had so I jumped off and joined Darren and G-Law on the ice. They are such wonderful humans. We ran along for a few miles with me borrowing bits and pieces off them until we reached the first truck stop - AND MY BAG! So happy to have it back.
Today felt much more relaxed than yesterday - nerves had gone and it was about getting through it. It was almost fun! I ran a lot of the way with the boys, chatting and basically going mental. We decided to try ice surfing - breaking of bits of ice and trying to use them as body boards. Unsuccessful. More successful was ice ball - like football but with ice - and that got us a good mile or so without getting bored. I think we may have started going a it mental. We ran from sunrise to sunset and then got the bike and skates out to mess about on. Turns our Darren is a bit of a demon ice skater. Here are some wonderful pictures of our days trot.
Like a shit Reservoir Dogs…..
Beauty on ice
Why isn’t that island getting any closer??
10 miles in. Island still FAR AWAY.
Tonight was a similar set up to the night before, and we had already agreed that body heat was the way to go. ALL the runners were in one Ger tonight and I didn’t care who was sleeping next to who we just had to keep warm. The camp was set up when we arrived - but extra special treat time - it was Burns Night! David, our guide, is a very proud Scot as are Alistair and Ian, so the fire was lit, and the Haggis was presented in true Scottish style with Alistair braving the temperature to play the bagpipes for us in a KILT and a very thin top. This was probably the most mental thing I have ever seen. But I promise it happened readers, I promise it did!
Evening draws in end of day 2.
Burns Night dinner with the best
Camp number 2.
Loo with a view
Dinner was Reindeer leg and liver and it was amazing. Sorry Rudolph, but you are just delicious. Out came the Vodka to toast Burns night and then we had a VERY special treat. A local Shaman had come to the camp to perform a blessing ritual.
There are 2 main religions in Mongolia, Buddhism and Shamanism. Mongolian shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a reverence of nature, and ancestor worship. Central to the system were the activities of male and female intercessors between the human world and the spirit world. The ritual started with the Shaman taking deep breaths from a bag of herbs and donning a huge amazing coat and mask. She then started an all encompassing chant, hitting her horse-skin drum, growling, speaking in tongues and throwing herself around the camp to the point that she actually fell INTO the fire at one point. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen and we were so lucky to have been trusted and allowed to witness this.
A real life Shaman….
With dinner over it was time for bed - no chances taken - and I was straight in between Darren and Lee to try and make the most of the body warmth. Tonight we needed to sleep because tomorrow we had our final crossing to make and it was going to be a long one.