Desert Ultra 2018 Race Report - Stage Two

There are no easy days on the Desert Ultra and today was no exception...

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At 6am local time, a rooster woke our runners.  Not an actual cockerel mind you, but a sturdy member of our Namibian Race Team who does a more than passable impression.  The Kaurimbi Expeditions team are the crew that keep this desert race on the move.  Like our other teams around the world, we utilise the local knowledge and skills of a partner team in country who know every stretch of 4×4 trail, every source of water and shade and have the vehicles needed to survive in this area.  And the Kaurimbi team thrive out here, they have a tool for every eventuality tucked away somewhere in their monster 4x4s.  But not, apparently, a loud enough alarm clock, hence the early morning chicken impression.  The runners love it.

We had another overcast a breezy start, allowing the runners to cover some miles before the sun had a chance to bake them.  The terrain for the first half of the course today is undulating and continues steadily upwards right the way through to the midpoint of the stage so the chance to gain some altitude and tick off some kilometres was welcome.

Jacob Ottosen, unfortunately, didn’t take to the line this morning.  He had an exceptionally long day yesterday and put in a huge effort to reach the finish line, but after consulting with the medics this morning he took the decision to remain with the Base Camp team.

Simon Davies was the other runner who suffered in the heat yesterday and another who had to put in a herculean effort to finish the stage.  A lot of what makes or breaks a race like this is the admin behind the scenes and Simon continued his fight at camp, working hard to rehydrate and replace the lost calories.  Once the clouds dissipated this morning though the temperature rose extremely rapidly to 45degrees and Simon had to call it a day.  Simon has been a mainstay on our races throughout the year and it’s been a pleasure to support him whilst he works so hard on his fundraising project.  We strongly suspect this isn’t the end of the adventure.  Simon is currently sitting at the finish line supporting his fellow runners, filling water bottles and making sure everyone else is looked after.

The camp tonight is again in a dry river bed, this time not too far from the small mining town of Uis.  At the time of writing the sun is starting to set and a cool breeze is cooling the runners who have made it to camp.  They’re gathered on our camp mattresses in the shade of an ancient, twisted desert tree exchanging tales about the course.

In the first 10km or so the runners were able to see all the way back to the Spitzkoppe and the site of our original Base Camp.  The view is dramatic and spectacular.  After this comes a long stretch across Damara farmland.  This area is comparatively barren and a few racers have pointed to the mind-bending effect of covering long distances when there is very little to focus on but the Brandberg Mountain which looms on the horizon never seeming closer or further away.

Adam Kimble put in another superhuman performance today, completing the stage in 4:54.  Aside from some mild chafing under his backpack and a slightly embarrassing tan line across his forehead, Adam looks pretty unaffected by the distance he’s covered.  Kristina Madsen consolidated her second position with a time of 6:22.  There was a change on the leaderboard though with Joffy coming in 15 minutes ahead of Kevin Mayo to take 3rd place, a particularly impressive achievement considering he ran his first official marathon and first official ultra yesterday on Stage One.

Tomorrow is the White Lady Marathon.  42km is nothing to be sniffed at but the reduction in stage length will seem like a blessing for the runners.  Still, temperatures are expected to be high again.  There are no easy days on the Desert Ultra.

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Will Roberts

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Desert Ultra 2018