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Atacama Desert Crossing

Annabelle Bond

My next challenge that i have decided to partake in is completely different from the Snow and Ice that i have been doing since August 2003. I used to run long distance when i lived in Hong kong completing the Machlehose Trail a 103km mountain marathon 4 consecutive years running. However the last time i ran this race was in November 2000. I trained for this race about 6 months prior to it, running about 18 to 20 hours a week. When my sister completed the Gobi Desert March in 2005, one of the four desert races, she not only lost all her baby weight having recently given birth to her second child, she decided that i should run in the Atacama Desert with her the following year. Not thinking she would remember this threat, i agreed to do it with her and hence here we are about to start a 250 km race across one of the most challenging deserts of the world starting on 22nd July in San Pedro in the North of Chile. When i say challenging, it is the only desert in the world at altitude, we start the race at about 14,000 feet and we will be exposed to a variety of difficult terrain combined with extreme heat in the day, 30 degrees centigrade and up to minus 20 at night. To make it more gruelling we have to carry all our own gear which will mean we each carry about 30llbs on our backs. The only good news is that i get to go back to Chile a country that i love having spent nearly six months there whilst training for Everest with my Chilean team.

As the competitors run across the Atacama Desert in teams of three, i asked my friend Sissel Smaller who i climbed two of the seven summits with and who completed Everest from the North last year to join our team and we would run as one of the few all girl teams. This is going to be new to me as most of my mountain climbing and my trip to the North Pole with Prince Albert has been with myself being the only girl, a boy to girl ratio that i quite enjoyed!

I have been fairly busy with speaking engagements since completing the Polar trip in April so iv just recently been trying to get my body ready for this gruelling race. Whilst journying to the North Pole in April of this year, on one of my many falls onto the pack ice, i managed to pull all the ligaments in my rotator cuff on my left shoulder. This injury combined with a lower back injury from falling onto the pack ice whilst training in Kiruna in January have meant that my body is not quite in its top physical condition. I have been in physio therapy for the past month in the hope that i will be able to succeed in this race. The result meaning I haven't been able to put in the mileage with the back pack that i would have liked, but like climbing mountains, a lot of this challenge is mental discipline and just dealing with the physical pain of it all.

My aim is just to try and complete the race as a team and to spend time with my sister and Sissel whom i have hardly seen over the past year. I will try and get updates to my website when possible although a satellite phone may be too heavy to carry! As always anyone who wishes to donate to the Eve Appeal, a cause that i am passionate about i would be eternally grateful. 

Annabelle Bond
June 28th 2006

The Atacama Crossing is a six-stage, 250-kilometer footrace across the Atacama Desert of Chile. All competitors must carry all their own food, gear and clothing while navigating through about 30 checkpoints (CPs). The Atacama Crossing is part of the 4 DesertsTM, a series of footraces in the world's four largest deserts (the Atacama, the Gobi, the Sahara and Antarctica). 

The Atacama Crossing will take place in the Atacama Desert of Chile -- the driest place on Earth. The Atacama Desert is 15 million years old and is the location for many high tech astronomy centers for leading educational institutions in the world. The Atacama Desert has the most lunar-like landscape on Earth and is frequently used by NASA to test its Mars rover vehicles. The entire event will be held at one mile above sea level and cover the distance required to make a horizontal crossing of the country of Chile (250 kilometers).

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