After a very long delay, here is the second half of the Cambodia race (and lots more pictures):
4th stage:I was lucky enough to get a solitary morning temple walk again this year. This place is just unbelievable.
It went pretty quickly for everyone to come through. Then Pavel and I had a hot hike over the hill to checkpoint 2. I hate to complain given what the runners go through everyday…but goodness gracious was it hot!
We caught up with the last runner at the front porch of a little house. The family there was selling cold drinks and it was nice to take a short break. I could not have been more excited to get to our waterfall camp. I was looking forward to this all week – SWIMMING!!! It was great to hop in the river in between foot tapings. I had forgotten all of the totally ridiculous places set up for tourist photos. Jenn, Pavel, and I probably spent 30 minutes posing in all of the different locales.
We were treated to a restaurant dinner this evening by Stefan, the race director. That sure didn’t seem like “fish” in my stew but it was delicious nonetheless. It was absolute heaven sleeping under the mosquito net next to the river. It was so nice and cool. And the sound of the river was better than any fancy noise machine from the Sharper Image or the SkyMall magazines.
It was an early morning start in the dark. One of our runners wasn’t able to participate today due to serious foot issues. With all of the moisture and trauma to the tissues of his feet, he ended up with something referred to as trench foot. This is a disease entity that is very painful and involves death of the surface tissues. The name of this condition refers to trench warfare, and this was a particular problem for soldiers during the winters of World I & II, and the Vietnam War. The main prevention is to keep the feet clean and dry which is obviously very difficult in the race environment. After closely tracking the progress of the runner’s feet, the decision was made to start antibiotics. Spoiler alert: This incredibly determined runner started the final stage and was able to run across the finish line. Very impressive.
I started the day at Checkpoint 1 once again. Which was a great choice since the bread man came by on his moped loaded down with gluten-y goodness. For the low price of $1, you could gorge yourself on 4 mini baguettes. Awesome. There was a local boy who was just cooler than school with one of our crew’s motorbike.
It was a long day in the heat at the finish line. I was both entertained by and also entertained the school kids while I typed up my blog. We also had a drone for filming which made for some very excited kiddos.
The final runners came into our camp in the dark. I was grateful to climb into our sauna/tent for bed but I fell asleep with dreams of cool sheets in a luxurious hotel room dancing in my head. Big finish tomorrow!
6th stage (finish!):
It was an insanely early start this morning because we had to go to the Angkor Watt ticket booths prior to the start so that we could all get onto the World Heritage site. The runners were all really pumped up this morning to finish their race. We had a staggered start so that the runners would finish closer together. We took one of our team Land Cruisers to the finish. There was a big political event at Angkor today and we were very lucky to be able to get dropped off at the front due to the heightened police presence. I think that if you just act like you know what you are doing, other people tend to believe it… As evidenced by our driver and the police at the gates.
It was nice to see some of our runners’ friends and families at the entrance of Angkor Watt. It’s pretty heartwarming to see that loved ones are willing to travel halfway around the world in order to show their support. The wife of one of the runners was sweet enough to bring a cooler of cold drinks so that everyone could have some refreshment at the finish. How thoughtful! The finish was emotional as usual. What a big accomplishment! Congrats!
There was a little time to take in a little bit of Angkor Watt. And then I had the best iced coffee of my life!
Hotel time! Arctic A/C and shower time! Tuk tuk to town time! Pizza and $1.75 mojito time! Massages and manicures for $15 time! Rush to the awards dinner time! Pub street time! Another race on the books!
Jenn and I had an extra day and a half in Siem Reap before our respective flights home. One of our star race drivers was able to arrange a temple tour for Jenn, Laura, and I. It was absolutely wonderful. We saw some amazing temple sites and then had a 3 hour spa extravaganza. It was nice to get a little time to enjoy the local sites and relax before the long trip home.
So that’s a wrap for Cambodia 2015! And for my year of fellowship! After arriving back in Syracuse, I am officially a Wilderness and Expedition Medicine trained physician. I am so glad that I took the risk of leaving my job to pursue this adventure. Please stay tuned to my blog for the continuing sagas of my big life. And please keep me in mind if you are considering any expeditions or remote travel, and feel that you might benefit from having a physician along with you!!!