Desert Ultra 2018 got underway at 8am sharp local time under cloudy skies and with the remnants of last night’s billowing desert winds keeping the runners cool. This made for a flying start to the race as the field struck out from Spitzkoppe Base Camp.
Stage One begins with a 14km stretch across rock-strewn scrubland which is the only unmarked stretch of the route. The runners are instructed only to leave Spitzkoppe and aim for the centre of the Spitzkoppe Saddle, two lower granite hills with a pass right through the middle. Once through this gap, they found themselves on the scarcely used 4×4 trails which make up the bulk of this part of the race. Here it’s a simple case of following the red flags our team have planted on to the next camp. Easy. Or it would be if it weren’t over 40 degrees in the shade.
At the time of writing, all but one of the racers have made it to the Omaruru river bed camp site. Jacob has suffered cramps throughout the day which have slowed him down but he is safe and well and under the watchful eye of the medics at the back of the field.
The afternoon heat has had an effect on few of the runners but they’re all recovering now the sun has set and the temperature has become a lot more comfortable.
Simon Davies will be a name familiar to anyone who follows BTU. Simon is competing in his 3rd race of the year with us as part of a massive fundraising project. With so much at stake, it’s safe to assume that there isn’t much that would stop him making it to the finish line and he proved that today. After a blistering start, the heat overcame him and he spent some time in the care of the medics at CP4. After an unscheduled siesta and some tactical refuelling and cooling, Simon picked himself up and toughest it out to the finish line. Not the result he planned but one of the toughest performances of a hard first day.
At the front of the pack, Adam Kimble put in an outstanding result whilst simultaneously bewildering all around with his seemingly effortless ability to lope across the desert landscape as if taking on a casual parkrun. It remains to be seen if he will turn out to be part antelope as suspected, the exile medics are conducting tests as I type. In second position is world-record breaker, Kristina Madsen. In her second race with BTU Kristina could well be on course to being first female again. A little way behind her was Kevin Mayo who chased Kristina’s shadow through the sand throughout the day.
Tomorrow’s stage is the Brandberg. The runners will climb for much of the first half of the stage before running alongside the Brandberg Mountain range, home of the highest peak in Namibia. The runners will be glad of the extra shelter provided by the valley sides of our river-bed camp tonight as they provide a break from the wind that made sleep so difficult last night.
The 51km stage begins at 8am local time (6am UTC).
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