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Photo Gallery: Running Blind Through the Valley of Death ANICETO ALMEIDA AND VLADMI VIRGILIO MEET FOR the first time in San Pedro de Atacama, one day before the start of the race. Aniceto gifted Vlad with a loop rope to represent their partnership and invitation acceptance to be his guide. Iniceto rode his bike 5000km | 85 days, from Belem, Brazil to Atacama Chile. He was not registered for the race, but decided that he had a calling. Vlad on the other hand, was registered but did not have a guide. however, he was sure that arriviving in Atacama he would find someone to guide him. The race director was moved and invited Iniceto to guide Vlad . CAMPSITE1 - Athletes get a taste of how their next seven breakfasts will be. Clear skies, freezing temperatures, gathered around the fire, using the boiling water in the hotpots to prepare their frozen dried food for breakfast. Day 1 starting line.: Vlad and Iniceto dance to keep warm. Excitement for the adventure ahead iis noticed all around camp. Stage 1 course offers dificulties in all the terains imaginable. Australian runner , Matthew finds a small opening in a canion crevasse and has to crawl on all fours to get through to the other side. After almost 30 km of the first stage, they are seen with full convidence and positive thoughts. Stage 2: The course offers stunning and sometimes above knee freezing water crossings. Angela from germany and 1st female runner overall glides through this corssing, making things look easy. An athlete has just entered the Valley of death. This uphill, mars like and mountainess wind blocking terrain, in very high temepreatures, make this part of the course one of the most dificult of the entire race. A Japanese runner reaches the top of the valley of death and encounters an ancient Inca tunnel. The tunnel has aprox. 1km and 800m of pitch dark conditions to cross - forcing athletes to use a headlamp or flashlights to make it through After the valley of death and tunnel crossing, athletes arrive at a ridge where they are able to absorb the view of the huge part of the the course completed. From the green vegetation along the river crossings to the mars like uphill terrain of the valley of depth. Always with the majestic Licancabur Volcanoe overlooking them. After the valley of death and tunnel crossing, Vlad and Iniceto arrive at a ridge where they are able to absorb the view of the huge part of the the course completed. From the green vegetation along the river crossings to the mars like uphill terrain of the valley of depth. Always with the majestic Licancabur Volcanoe overlooking them. Vlad and Iniceto decide to run down the dune at full speed. Vlad took the lead on this one, pulling Iniceto to the bottom. ate the end of the dune., Vlad confessed that it had been a while since he had last felt the sensation of being so alive, so free. For me, shooting this moment - a true demonstration of courage and love towards life. Vlad and Iniceto cross the finsihing line of the Day 2 leg. CAMP 4 at night , under a full moon. Start of Stage 4. Vlad and Iniceto carefully head down the dune. Every step is carefully narrated by the guide, making sure Vlad is aware of what is ahead of him, keeping him safe. At every checkpoint, the athletes received a dose of cool water spray. Here, Vlad shows the satisfaction of cooling down, even if it onyl lasts 20 seconds - time for the water to dry evaporate and the heat to kick in again. Austrian team walking through one of the the easiest parts fo the asalt flats in stage 4. Natural sink holes with fresh water along the course. The warmest spot in the entire desert. The athletes that arrive towards the end of the day suffer of exaustion, but have the opportunity of being a part of a special moment like this one. Fire, food and laughs under a clear full moon sky. Vlad and Iniceto are seen starting their climb up a 2 km uphill dune. The sand is so sofr and the dune so inclined, that for every 2 steps taken, only one is made. Vlad and Iniceto are almost arriving at the top of the dreaded dune. Athletes gets emotional seeing the checkpoint 4 and halfway mark. Vlad and Iniceto have just left checkpoint 5. The sunset marks the beggining of a long walk throughout the night, with very cold temperatures. Vlad and Iniceto have just left checkpoint 5. The sunset marks the beggining of a long walk throughout the night, with very cold temperatures. They arrived at 11pm, 14 hours after the starting line. They walked 78km without food and would spend the next day until the last stage (10km ) with out eating. They ran out of food during the race. Because it is a self suficient race, they must take everything they will eat in their backpacks. Vlad and Aniceto arrive at the finish line after the final stage, a 6 mile sprint to top off the race.
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