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Atacama Crossing, Stage 5

Matt Cavanaugh

43 miles, Stage 5 complete. I’ll finish 3rd overall.

I started the day about 2 minutes back of 2nd place, the Japanese runner nicknamed “Mori Mori” (or just “Mori” for short) up on me. I was with him until about the midpoint today, and then sometime after mile 20 he dropped me and I didn’t see him again. I just didn’t have the legs for it.

But I did hold my 60-minute-plus lead on the guy behind me, and then over two other recent winners’ of this event series, as well as a half dozen others that’ve previously finished on the podium here. So Bronze in this case feels pretty golden to me right now.

I ran for about 7 and a half hours today, under a sky without a single cloud, on a course without a speck of shade. When I saw the finish line, I don’t mind typing that I cried. I got myself back into composure by the time I actually crossed the finish line, but out in that last mile, from that visual distance safe spot, I cried a lot.

The emails I’ve been getting out here have really helped, and remind me just how much all of this is a team sport. Without the support I wouldn’t have finished this week. No doubt. This is the third one of these this year and the candle eventually burns down to the bottom. I’m not far from that bottom.

I leave for Antarctica in a little over 6 weeks.

But for now, I’ll jog in tomorrow’s last 5K for the Atacama Crossing, receive my 3rd place at the banquet, and then on Sunday I will start the next long march, northward, home.