It’s the first day of the race and I’m setting off from Banfora in southwest Burkina Faso on the first 23.6 mile leg to Toumousseni. I’m going to face many challenges in the days ahead: the weather, sand, injuries, blisters, tiredness, thirst and lack of comfort and privacy. But there is one challenge which ultimately could make or break my race – the weight of my backpack. I need to carry everything I need for 5 days on my back, except for a tent and water, which is provided every 6-9 miles. So that includes food, clothes, a sleeping bag and medical supplies. It’s a fine balance between minimizing the weight of my bag, and having enough food and equipment to get me through the race. My aim is to start with my backpack weighing less than 17 lbs.