I’m doing a 250 kilometer ultramarathon to benefit Children’s Medical Foundation (CMF) which provides funding and support in rural areas of China for families who cannot afford life-saving treatment for their newborn babies.
For every kilometer I run, you can help by donating HK$32. Your pledge of HK$8,000 can cover all the costs to save an infant’s life. I am serious about earning your support and willing to carry a 10kg pack of survival food and equipment for 7 days through the harshest conditions to earn it.
I depart Feb, 28 for the 37 hour flight from Hong Kong to a little desert town called San Pedro. The pre-race training routine was supposed to be 100 kilometers per week in addition to other strengthening workouts for at least 6 months prior. This workout schedule turned out to be a challenge as friends, family, work, fun, and a ski trip to Japan seemed more appealing than running for hours on end with a 10kg sack of rice. Fortunately or unfortunately this race is more of a mental challenge than a physical one so I’m relying on your support and the charity obligation for motivation.
The Atacama desert is as close to planet Mars you can find on Earth. ( http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/ ) Atacama has virtually no rainfall making it a the driest place on earth with daily temperature swings from 0 degrees Celsius at night to over 30 degrees Celsius during the day. Combine this with a sickening altitude of over 3,000 meters makes Atacama one of the most difficult environments. Apparently NASA uses Atacama for Mars simulations.
Competitors must go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance by racing self- supported in the most inhospitable climate and formidable landscape. Joining me will be 150 competitors representing 40 countries. We must carry all their own equipment and food, and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest. The average backpack weighs 9 kilograms / 20 pounds. The fastest completion time is expected to be around 25 hours (not me) and the slowest around 70 hours (hopefully not me).
Think of me March 3 – 9 as I trudge across planet Mars, and pledge generously.
— Douglas Morin
Support Douglas’ incredible journey in RacingThePlanet Atacama Crossing 2013 in Chile from February 28 to March 10, 2013 by sponsoring his race and Children’s Medical Foundation’s efforts to save newborn babies in rural China.
Donation by Paypal (this button will take you Paypal’s website):
You may enter any donation amount in “Item Price” field.
HK$100 buys 1 training manual
HK$1,000 trains 1 nurse
HK$8,000 saves a newborn life
Taking on new challenges is something that Douglas Morin has never been shy about. In 1997, just after the handover, he took the leap and moved to Hong Kong for Bear Stearns, and an even bigger challenge in 2008 as China Construction Bank International’s (CCBI) first non-Chinese hire, at what was then an unprofitable firm with no solely managed IPOs. With his vision and unique talent at building from scratch, he took CCBI into the black, distributing over a dozen IPOs and earning accolades for the firm. Douglas is currently CEO of Crosby Securities, part of publicly listed Crosby Capital.
CMF is grateful for Douglas’ support, and yours.
Updates (excerpted from Douglas’ blog)
Stage 1: March 3
No Shadow at 12:00pm.
Survived day one, 33 kilometers in 5:15 hours. (Ill take it given a little altitude head pang). Managed to run the first 23 K but the 39 degree Celsius heat kicked in and the poles came out. A blister free day. Landscape is right out of the Star Wars planet, Tatooine. My French tent mates finished ahead of me and were lounging in their under garments, scary (think Borat). I signed up for a medical study where they check your blood and weight every 2 days. Apparently I gained weight today but my kidneys are all functioning. Issue I’m having is my pack at 11kg, shoulders aching. Thank you for all the messages. Best news is they have 4 portable toilets at each campsite, yeah!
Stage 2: March 4
45 kilometers completed in 8:34 hours. The first 10 K was criss-crossing a icy cold river where I managed to snap one of my poles (bummer). Also ran down a massive sand dune (fun). The rest was hot, shruby and sandy. Again today I did the last 20 K with Herman from Bogota, Columbia as we are a similar pace. When we finished the day at 4:36pm Herman’s nose started bleeding which is apparently common at this altitude. The run today was long and painful. At 2pm the temperature was 42 degrees Celsius. The 11kg pack is slowly getting lighter but is the main source of pain on the shoulders. Went to the medical tent today. The river (not clean) gave me a rash on my calves and the top of my feet as the filthy water was trapped against my skin all day. On the positive side the nurse said I have no blisters and the “best feet in camp” 🙂 Tomorrow is a 40 K day. Everyone is friendly and positive. Thanks for your messages.
Stage 3: March 5
DAY 3 OF 7. BRUTAL DAY! 40 K IN 8:06 HOURS. RAN THE FIRST 20 K WHICH WAS IMPRESSIVE (FOR ME). ALTHOUGH MY RUNNING IS PHIL TYE WALKING SPEED. THE LAST STAGE OF THE DAY WAS 11.8 K AND QUOTED AS THE HARDEST STAGE OF THE ENTIRE RACE. UBER HOT, SAND WALLS, SCRUB GRASS, SHARP ROCKS, SHREDDED MY GATORS. FORTUNATELY I LINKED UP AGAIN WITH THE HERMINATOR FROM BOGOTA AND WE TRUDGED THROUGH TO THE END. DAMIEN GOT THE RUNS AND STILL MANAGED TO FINISH STRONG TODAY. HE SEEMS TO OPERATE CONSTANTLY AT 40% HEALTH. HYGIENE A BIG ISSUE IN CAMP AND I INFORMED THE TENT THAT COLOGNE IS NOT A MAGICAL DISINFECTANT WHEN WORN. THE TENT LOVED THE MENTOLATUM, THANKS HONEY, GOOD CALL. I HATE MY AIR MATTRESS. IT’S LIKE SLEEPING ON A NOISY BALLOON. DON’T SLEEP MUCH. TAPED UP THE GASHES ON MY SHOULDERS AND TOSSED SOME CLOTHING AND FOOD TO LIGHTEN UP. HUGE DIFFERENCE. NO PHIL, I WILL NOT TOSS MY WET WIPES. THEY ARE GOLD. BLAKE, SPELLING TEST THURSDAY. SOFIA TRY FENCING, YOU MAY LIKE IT. ONE MORE 45 K DAY BEFORE THE 70 K DAY. CEDRIC, LOVE THE COTTON SHORTS UNDER THE TIGHTS. LESS RASH. HAVE A SLIGHT COLD. I’M ALLERGIC TO SAND.
Stage 4: March 6
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE WORDS OF WISDOM. DAY 4 COMPLETED, 45 K AND AGAIN AROUND 8 HOURS. TOMORROW IS DAY 5 OR THE DOUBLE DAY AND ALL THAT MATTERS. STUART YOUR ADVICE OF “TIME ON FEET” IS ALL THAT MATTERED IN THE TRAINING. I WAS BLISTER FREE UNTIL I HAD A POWER MOMENT AND STARTED JUMPING OFF ROCKS AND LANDED HEAVY. OTHER THAN THAT IT’S A VERY MECHANICAL RACE AND THERE IS RELATIVELY LITTLE FREE TIME. ON THAT NOTE HAVE TO GET ALL MY STUFF READY AND EAT.
Stage 5: March 7
75 kilometers in 13 hours 43 minutes. Took 45th Place for the long day (improvement).
Started with the Herminator but never saw him after the start. I cranked my music the entire race and roared. Figured out I needed to take 1 salt tablet per hour instead of 1 every 3 hours. Made a big difference. My gators are shredded, my shoes are ripped up, my shirt is brown (was white) and I lost 4 kilos. I took a photo for you Karmei as this is the closest I will get to a Ray 6 pack. In the middle of the race was a huge huge sand dune. Like a 20 story building and we had to go straight up. I took Phil’s advice, popped a Power Gel x2 caffeine and cranked the Gangnan Style. Oddly that little PSY step worked and I smoked the hill. After that I just kept running into the nothingness of this wasteland. Atacama has over 40 distinct types of really brutal rock / sand / mud / fudge / rocky surfaces. None nice for running. I ran out of running food post check point 5 which was still 8.5 K to check point 6. Prior to this point I had cut off the music to save battery for the final stretch and had to break out my 250 calorie dinner ramen which I was eating while walking as fast as possible. I had one gel stashed for the last stretch. 15 K to go I bonked (ran out of fuel and could barely talk). My super friendly Scot tent mates caught up who had been dogging me for 40 K. I shadowed their walking speed to keep moving forward. He gave me a few jelly beans which got me to check point 6 then I took my last Get Home gel. 10 K left to go. Past check point 6 was all uphill the first 3 K and I was still water skiing behind the Scots in the Atacama darkness looking for glow sticks. We caught up to a pair of Middle Eastern runners who were delirious and asked how much further. I told them “a lot further”. At this point the temperature was dropping and I figured I would not have enough fuel to walk it out. I could feel the gel working so I told the Scots I have to run. Then I just ran, Ran, RAn, RAN. 3 K later I saw a head lamp up ahead which kept turning back to see if he was going to get passed. I closed on him then stopped and asked how he was doing. He said he couldn’t feel his feet and can barely walk. I told him not much further, hasta luego, cranked what was left of my i-shuffle and took off. I think I sprinted the last 2 K to the finish line where they bang drums, clap and wave flags. I was en fuego when I crossed the line and probably could have kept going. I did a blood test at the end as part of a study on glycogen, weight and salt I had agreed to. Nurse said my kidneys, salt, glycogen were perfect. I also didn’t lose any weight from Day 3 to Day 5. Total loss 4 kilos. Grabbed my 2.5 liter allocation of water then had my recovery drink. I stumbled into the tent where my faster tent mates were all different states of delirium and pain. Hate dirty feet so I went out and washed my feet shivering in the freezing cold night (forgot jacket). Then crawled into the sleeping bag. My legs were seriously hurting to the bone. Crazy pain like nothing I had experienced. I didn’t have any ramen left to cushion the stomach so I couldn’t take any pain killers. After about an hour of agony Damien turned to me and said take this. I took the magic pill and 1 melatonin. Next thing, I was a human blob with no feeling in my body and couldn’t move but awake. Now I see why all you people love muscle relaxers, my first but not last. At 11 my rash that I picked up day 2 in the river and had gotten worse was itching like crazy in the heat of my sleeping bag so I got up and went to the camp fire. I spent the next 6 hours speaking Spanish with the Chilean work crew drinking coffee with too much sugar looking at the stars. At 5 am went to bed for 3 hours then the medical tent, hot box and here I am typing. Rest day today and 10 K to finish tomorrow. Then the long 38 hour flight back to Hong Kong.
Dear friends and family, I really appreciate all the messages you sent, advice you gave, patience during the training, time off work and encouragement. I shed a tear when I read your notes before writing this.
Stage 6: March 8 – Rest!
Stage 7: March 9 – 44 Hours and 36 minutes later….. Finish!
Day 6 was a rest day for those who completed Day 5 in one go. I was proud of my 46th place on day 5. I planned my Atacama race, trained, ate, rested, recovered each day to face the next. Day 7 was an 8.2 kilometer run into the town of San Pedro for the big finish in the town square. At an overall race rank of 57 there was only one person who was about 5 minutes ahead of me which could move me up to 56, James Boocock. I was out of food and my friendly French tent mate John gave me a sweet French cream of banana breakfast (gross). That with some magic Scottish jelly beans should have been enough to run it out. James and I exchanged some friendly banter and a 10 am took off for San Pedro. Mentally I had nothing left and was barely able to run. Fortunately the town turns out to cheer everyone on and the energy is contagious and I crossed the line, received a medal and it was over. Mentally I never had to dig too deep as I had done enough training for a 57 ranking and the day to day race was very mechanical. At the finish line there were many families there and I was hugging James and speaking to his wife and two five year old sons and then I started to cry. I think the 7 days of focus and determination to complete the race ended and seeing James with his family brought me suddenly back to reality and what is really important in life. Family…. That is all that matters. Thank you to my wife Karmei for rallying support and the messages from friends and family around the world.
CMF congratulates Douglas on a successful run and hard-earned finish! Thank you for your support!