Gear: Only a few new additions to the collection this year, as reviewed for 2007 and 2008. First up, a new Greenland Paddle. Not that this was intentional. But when I saw StripBuilder’s beautiful hand-crafted one-of-three GPs the day before the race started, I just had to have it, there and then. And it did help—the slimmer loom and longer thinner paddles made for fewer pressure points and a very comfortable paddling experience.
And a new piece of safety equipment: Greatland Laser’s rescue laser flare Magnum. There are marketed as nighttime signaling devices visible up to 20 miles (32 km) away in optimal conditions, and effective in daytime up to three miles (4.8km). It’s not intended to replace but supplement the four small Orion Skyblazer rescue flares I carry in one of my PFD pockets, yet pragmatically appreciating that those Orions may just not work. I had it stored in a PFD pocket and attached via light parachute cord.
What I did find appealing this year was stopping for lunch and, thanks to the generosity of KneadingWater, dining on foil-packaged tuna wrapped in a tortilla with half a chopped up mini Babybel cheese. Not anticipating another racing mode EC as with 2008’s, for EC2010 I may well practice the civilized lessons learned from KW.
Leave No Trace: As with last year, I again packed Phillips’ WagBags—four this year—and I used three on the first three mornings where we camped “wild” and “stealth-like.” Subsequent mornings at groundsites/chickees along the Wilderness Waterway had their own PortaLoos, and there’s a public loo at Flamingo, which covers a regular person like me! I can’t encourage folks enough to use these when camping wild—or any similar system such as newspaper and a ziplock bag—it just doesn’t suffice nowadays to dig a cathole and perhaps take out just your loo paper.
Conclusions: All-in-all, it was a fairly “healthy” race for me—I didn’t wear (constantly wet) gloves at all this year, which I believe helped cancel any potential blister problem—none at all, in fact. Any pressure points were dealt with immediately with waterproof tape, which is how I dropped my beloved PFD knife overboard. As with last year but funnily not the year before, I did achieve an impressive case of “nappy rash,” or diaper rash as the Americans would phrase it. I’m going to have to give some thought to how to try and alleviate this problem. Certainly not as bad as last year’s, where it got infected, but uncomfortable for the first few days. (More to blog on this issue...)
I still don't really "sleep" with any consistency during the race—it can be a bit frustrating at times hearing those around you soundly asleep—but that doesn't seem to slow me down any during the race itself (just after). One trick I did learn that helped, particularly those camping around me, was to turn my deluctible Exped 7 down sleeping mat over the other way, which meant it's now so much quieter when I turn over.
And, of course, as FliesWithKiwiBird has repeatedly noticed, I’m pretty useless for the week after the race—it takes a good three to four days to get my landlegs back, and nearly a week or so to return to complete tigger levels.
But I’m signed up for next year…