At the time of typing, most of the runners and race team are sitting around in the camp under the lights of the string of bulbs that Gert, our stalwart Base Camp manager, has put overhead. Despite the battering they’ve all taken today they’ve been laughing and chatting all evening and all managed a standing (or at least sat-up) ovation for the last two runners to cross the line. After an epic 12 hour 30 minute trudge, Dale Thomas and Isabelle Kursava have just triumphantly reached our Ugab River Base Camp. It’s been a tough day for every body.
The runners could be forgiven for having assumed that today’s stage would be easier. The White Lady Marathon (named for an ancient cave painting found in the area) is a good 10km shorter than the previous days. However, the first 18 of those 42 kilometres are run on the soft, shifting, ankle deep sand. Battered knees, hips and ankles took a beating as the runners wobbled through the sand.
When they finally emerged from this torturous stretch, the sun was at full height and the air temperature was by far the highest it has been so far. Even the strong breeze which blew across the course all afternoon was like a blast furnace. It might be the shortest stage but it’s been the hardest challenge yet.
Phil March stuck with them for most of the day but eventually succumbed to the heat and was brought in by our race team. He’s in camp and has recovered well. He may well still take on tomorrow’s stage.
Jason Carpenter took to the line this morning to accompany his new running buddy Isabelle and the two of them have spent the day steadily putting the world to rights. Dale Thomas, our very own Welsh dragon who is hoping to avenge a DNF here in 2017, caught up to them after a tough midday slump to form a power trio for the final stretch into camp.
Elsewhere in the field, a power duo has formed. Former Royal Marine David Mcintosh, unquestionably the most energetic man in camp, and current Royal Marine John Mcleary marched their way through the course today. The course has been hard on them but nothing was getting between them and the finish line today. David has been a massive character around camp, his energy is infectious and his positivity in the face of this mammoth challenge has been lifting people throughout the race.
We have a real fight on our hands at the top of the leaderboard. Namibian runner Wim Steenkamp put in an amazing run today to take the stage win by a big enough margin that he has now drawn level with Juken Urdaibai in the overall standings.
Julen came in 2nd today ahead of Kazia Orzechowska who took 3rd today and cemented her position as 1st woman overall. We suspect she may push for a possible course record given how fresh she still seems. Some runners get stronger as these events go on and Kazia appears to be one of them.
Mael Jouan was the 3rd man over the line this afternoon which brings him up to 6th overall just a single minute ahead of compatriot Anthony Jouannic.
2nd and 3rd woman today went to Eliza Miles and Bronia Lewis. Eliza has a firm grip on 2nd overall at the moment and Bronia has moved within 25 minutes of Tamara Radovic who currently holds 3rd overall.
–NEWS FLASH– Just as we began uploading this report a mother elephant and her baby have wandered to within about 20m of camp and the runners left awake are now standing quietly watching them feed by torchlight. 3 years in a row the elephants have visited here. Our local team say it’s unbelievably lucky.
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!
STAGE THREE RESULTS:
|Julen Calzada Urdaibai||04:57|
|Marc Antoine Colonna||06:56|