Aquarius 19, 2077, m249
The sun has only begun to rise, but in the valleys of Noctis Labryinthus, it is dark. It is still hours away from the race resuming for Day 2 competition, but most of the runners are already awake.
For most of these athletes, last night was the first time they had experienced sleeping in the great and dangerous outdoors. After an intensive first day of navigating through and over the punishing terrain , we wanted to get a snapshot of what was going through some of their minds.
Rafeeq Afzal - 3rd position
- Age: 30
- Resident of Al'amal
- Birthplace: Earth
- Occupation: Engineer
What did you think of your first day?
It was absolutely exhilarating and terrifying. It is familiar from the simulations, but at the same time, you can know and feel the difference. When you fall, the way the dirt moves and you can sense the coldness. I am acutely aware of the danger and I used this yesterday to stay focused. I feel confident this morning and am going to use the same strategy.
How was your post race?
Honestly, I was so exhausted. Once my support vehicle arrived, I couldn't wait to set up the mobile hab just to get out of the EV suit and collapse. That is why this morning is a busy one to go through all my checklists and inspect all of my equipment.
What is your objective for the day?
I plan on crossing that finish early afternoon. At the end of each stage, we get to stay in a mobile facility until the next stage. The sooner I can get this stage completed, the more time I have to reset for the next stage. A shower would be nice. A decent meal would be nicer.
Jonathan Himona - 28th position
- Age: 21
- Resident of Wendland
- Birthplace: Mars
- Occupation: Student
How do you feel the race is going for you?
I am in a tough spot. I'm definitely in the middle of the pack, so a good 12km behind Shannon at this point. I had a lot of difficulty with picking my routes yesterday, so I lost a lot of time doubling back.
You're one of the few contestants to have included exo-training. Did your training include camping outdoors over night?
Yes, I did. I interviewed former runners and learned that sleep deprivation was a serious factor, so I did apply for permits to train and actually get used spending time in my support vehicle. I think it paid off. I was out like a light last night and now I'm ready to run.
Mathias Steinback - 19th position
- Age: 53
- Resident of Europa
- Birthplace: Earth
- Occupation: Education Programmer
How do you feel after your first day of racing?
It was more intense than what I was expecting. about 2 hours in, I actually started to have doubts, but I eased off and found a pace that worked well for me. I also think getting to higher ground helped me quite a bit. Back on Earth, I enjoyed rock climbing, but doing it here is unbelievable. I feel like I'm doing the impossible.
You are the oldest challenger in this year's Men's group. How do you feel you are doing?
I don't think my age is a negative. There are a lot of wealthy kids out here with fancy equipment and full-time coaches. I would like to think that life experience and wisdom will play a part in getting me through this. I set a goal for myself to complete all 5 stages... this is truly the most intimate Mars tourism experience anyone can have, so I plan to enjoy it.