The Namibia/Panama Crossings: Prologue

Dune life (photo: Pete Rees) 

I started writing this blog on the hoof, halfway through the two trips. Mainly because I didn’t want to forget what was happening to me. I was too scared to get my laptop out in the desert, because everything I touched ended up covered in sand or mud or both. Like that skittles ad, but more annoying. I’m now home, scraping through the memories and photos and trying to piece together what was the adventure of a lifetime. I am safe, but blown away. Trying to understand what I have achieved without sounding like a complete tool. In the last 3 weeks, I have crossed The Namib desert on foot, east to west from the outskirts of the Namib National Park to the wreck of the Eduard Bolen. I am the first woman to do so, setting the fastest known time of about 38 hours for the 200km distance. Total ascent for the route was about 4,200m or about 4 Snowdons. Just over a quarter of a million steps. The day after I finished, we flew to Cape Town and ran the big 3 - Signal Hill, Lions Head and Table Mountain, all in one terrifying day. We got in a car at the foot of Table Mountain and travelled for 60 hours via Heathrow to Panama City. The day after we got to Panama, we began the first of two traverses. The first, the all-in-one west to east crossing on foot and kayak, taking in the Panama canal and pipeline in another world first. The second, the 5 day Panama Coast to Coast run - 50 miles road running followed by 3 (or 5 in this case - more on that later) days total self sufficient trekking through primary jungle, taking us on foot from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast. In total, over the second phase of this traverse we clocked up over 28,000ft of elevation - that is the equivalent of Mount Everest from sea level.  

My favourite canyon in the Namib desert (photo: Me)

Top of the world in Panama (photo: Me)

Most of you reading this know about the planning for these adventures. Both events are reccee’s for Rat Race Bucket list events. (You can read about it here) We are the test pilots - we basically stress test, to see if the route works, identifying and overcoming any issues that we may come across in a smaller group, before throwing a bigger group into it. If you haven’t read the blogs about preparing for this then do that first! It’s not a decision I took lightly.

I want this to be a true account of what happened. It will be long. In places it will be a tough read, for both you, the reader, and me the author. It will probably take me 4-6 weeks to get through the write up and I will be posting as I get it done. My overall feelings at the moment are of bewilderment, confusion and lack of belief. I have struggled to talk to my friends who have reached out to me about it, because I don’t want it to come across as boastful or overly dramatic. I am almost embarrassed to talk about what I went through. I feel like it’s not that interesting to anyone but me. But I know that some people want to read about it, and I owe it to myself to try and accept that I HAVE achieved something remarkable. I will try and be as honest as I can here. At times, this was the most beautiful and inspiring thing I have ever been a part of. At times it was the hardest and most horrifying thing I have ever been a part of. This trip has not made me a different person but has helped me accept the resilience of my own character. This trip has almost bankrupted me. This trip has taught me lessons about my own strength and weaknesses; it has surprised and delighted and broken and battered me.the experience is a metaphor for life. One step at a time. Deal with what you can now. Deal with what you have to tomorrow. This is the story of a normal person out to achieve something extraordinary, for ultimately no reason at all, other than that it was there to be done. It’s written in first person and second person for every person. I am not the best writer, but I hope it reads OK.   Be warned, this experience is a gateway drug. If I can inspire even one person to throw caution to the wind and get outside, live their life and believe they have more in them, my job is done. 

Stay tuned…..