By the start of day three ten runners had already yielded to the difficult terrain and were on their way. I was starting to get into a groove. Make a fire at dawn, down sugarized oatmeal, race walk hard all day, fix my feet often, drink plenty of water and then crash on the hard sand[insulated by a tin air mattress] for a not so restful night’s sleep. I had also learned to use my shoes for a pillow. Some unlucky runners had aired their shoes outside of the tent at night providing a comfortable bed for the plentiful scorpions and snakes.
For the first time I began to notice the other competitors. Two Moroccans, brothers, led the pack at the start and at the end of each day’s stage. Their back packs were so small however, it was clear that they were carrying a sleeping bag and all of the required gear. One of them had a heavier pack. I suspected he, or someone else, carried the rations for the lead runner. Then there was the strongly built blonde woman from Germany. She was accompanied by her boyfriend. On two days the woman wore no pack at all. But who was I to complain. After all I was missing a five ounce compass.
Competitors seemed to religiously keep to the rule of not sharing food. As a result I was perpetually hungry.
Accompanying me at the back of the pack was somewhat heavy set Argentinean banker. Every day he carried a large heavy banner which furled in the slight breeze in honor of his favorite Buenos Aires soccer team. Now this was a fan par excallence. Since the flag slowed him down to my pace we spent many hours examining the problems of the world.
Walking through an oasis