The runners can absolutely be forgiven for having thought that today’s stage would be easier. At 10km shorter than Stage One and Two and the same number of checkpoints pushed a little closer together there was every reason to think that this would be a chance to relax a little. The desert makes the rules around here though.
Unlike the first two days, there was no cloud cover this morning. By 9am, just an hour into the race, the temperature was already uncomfortable. By midday, with the sun at it’s highest point, the runners were walking in the open in 55 degrees. Add to this that the first 15km was almost entirely run in a dry river bed filled ankle deep with sand and you have a recipe for an extremely difficult day.
Nikki Love had an enormously long day yesterday which left very little time to rest, recover and refuel before taking to the start line again this morning. With the temperatures as high as they were this stage became a race to hydrate for Nikki and unfortunately, the sun came out on top today. Nikki is safe and well and now relaxing at our beautiful Ugab River Base Camp.
At the time of writing, there are only 2 runners left on the course, Mark Hamber and Isabelle Kursava have had difficult days as the struggle against a painful hip in Isabelle’s case and a contender for the largest blister in recorded history for Mark. The last checkpoint team are trailing them in and they’re expected to make camp shortly.
There’s been less wildlife spotted during the race this year but today a group of Ostrich made an appearance staging their own desert race at the foot of the Brandberg mountain. Beyond that the only animal sightings have been some scattered herds of goats watched over by the Damara farmers who scrape a living from the parched earth out here. Still, there are some elephant tracks around our camp and some fairly fresh ‘presents’ they’ve left behind so we remain hopeful of a visit.
At the front of the pack, Adam Kimble celebrated Thanksgiving with another storming run. He wrapped up today’s marathon in 4:19. Kristina Madsen struggled a little in the heat this morning but recovered and rallied coming second again in 5:39. Joffy Bastard continued his outstanding maiden voyage coming in only a few minutes behind. He ran his first marathon on stage one. He’s now run more than 3 in 3 days.
Elsewhere in the field, there are other races taking place. Karl Riegl has already marched further than he managed last year before he had to step out of the race. Archi Stewart looks likely to beat the time he set last year and seems to be getting stronger as the race goes on. Our French duo of Olivier and Emanuelle are similarly gaining momentum, Emanuelle finished today’s stage explaining that this had been the best day yet.
Tomorrow the runners have a chance to get some extra sleep, put some time into their admin and work on any niggles they’ve picked up as they take on the shortest stage of the race. At 22km this half marathon allows for extra recovery time at both ends of the day, ready for the mammoth final stage.
Still, it is not to be under-estimated. The temperature is likely to be as high again and the stage only begins at 11:30am, right at the height of the heat.
Follow the action live from 9:30am UTC and wish them all luck out there!