Desert Ultra 2018 Race Report - Stage Four

Did we mention it was a bit hot today?

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Did we mention it was a bit hot today?  It might look like we’ve laboured that point a little in our live updates but trust us, it’s a point that worth driving home.  Today hit 55degrees again when the sun was at it’s highest and we had rather cruelly set our runners off at 11:30am, just before the sun reached it’s peak.  It was a frustrating time for the runners this morning as their Basecamp was dismantled around them and they were left to wait, tensely for the race to finally start.  Our Ugab River camp is unarguably the most beautiful of the race and most of the runners took some time to do a little exploring this morning, but once it got warm they moved into the scant shade to be found and chatted about the race so far.

The main topic of conversation of course was the unexpected visit last night.  At around 9:30pm yesterday a small herd of elephants appeared further down the river from our camp and proceeded to stroll through the camp.  Runners and race team gathered in our communal area and quietly watched as they strolled leisurely between our long drop toilets and our tents.  All except for one rather startled runner who was going about his late-night ablutions at exactly that moment.  We’ve been blessed with a visit from this peaceful herd of animals two years in a row now and we’re considering signing them up for next year’s race.

Stage Four begins with a long, long steady climb up to the first checkpoint and beyond.  It may not be particularly steep but it is strength sapping, especially in the heat.  There were not a lot of enthusiastic takers when it came to the red jersey stage between CP1 and CP2.  We won’t hold this against the runners.

Despite the heat, sand, wind, sleep deprivation and unexpected elephants, the runners are in surprisingly good condition.  There are the usual collection of blisters and hilarious tan lines but on the whole the remaining group are looking strong.  Nikki Love, who was forced to DNF yesterday, managed to complete today’s stage as well and is much stronger today.

Simon Davies has become a member of the race team and is making himself indispensable out there on the course.  There’s no better race crew than an experienced ultra-runner and Simon is going out of his way to help his camp-mates make it to tomorrow’s finish line.

At the front of the pack Adam Kimble pulled off an incredible 2 hour half-marathon today, a respectable time in a road-race let alone on day 4 of a multi-stage ultra.  Kristina Madsen further strengthened her grip on 2nd position with an excellent time of 2:44.  The gap between her and Joffy in 3rd has stretched to 1:34:31 now, though this is no means insurmountable during a 90km stage like tomorrow – anything can happen.  Joffy continues to massively exceed expectations as he took 3rd place again today in a time of 2:59.  This has extended his lead over Kevin Mayo to 39 minutes.  However, unlike the sprightly Joffy, Kevin has an extensive history of long ultra races to draw on and 40 minutes isn’t out of the question over a monster stage like tomorrow’s.  Watch this space.

Michelle Hincks is comfortably 2nd female with an hour’s lead over Emanuelle, one of our French duo.

Our alarms will be going off at around 2:30am local time tomorrow as we get mobilised for the long stage.  At 4am local time they start the monster 90km final stage.  There will be a short course option at 70km tomorrow for those who don’t leave CP7 by 10pm tomorrow.

Wish them luck.  They’ll need it.

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Will Roberts

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Desert Ultra 2018