We’ve relocated our camp today to the dusty football pitch by the side of a school near Ol Jogi conservancy. The school children are very curious about the assortment of strangely dressed folk shuffling, stiff-legged around their field. No doubt they’re used to people moving much more quickly around here. They’re not used to seeing the particular walk developed by day four of a multi-stage ultra-marathon. There are some very sore feet and very sore legs out there and it’s been an extremely testing day.
The tired legs were forced to warm up quickly with a twisting, technical descent through a spectacular gulley. A kilometre from today’s start line there is a steep-sided ravine filled with pillars of deep, burnt orange soil standing sentinel over the animal tracks strewn all over the river-bed floor. It took team-work from the runners to get our resident rhino through some of the tightest twists and turns. Runners scrambled over boulders and ducked under over-hanging rocks and cactus branches to pass through this amazing area.
It’s also been something of a mental test as, for long stretches, the runners have had to circumvent the large fenced off area which houses the animals being protected and rehabilitated here. The long straight trails alongside these are passed walking fencepost to fencepost, ticking off metre after metre.
Still, the drudge was broken up with the opportunity to meet a local celebrity. MeiMei is a 2-year-old, orphaned rhino who was brought out to spectate during the race. Some of the runners were overwhelmed when offered the opportunity to come face to face with this beautiful youngster and by the tender nature of the relationship between her and her clearly proud and dedicated handler. There were some tears on the course over MeiMei.
After the enclosures came a long climb leading to a contender for the most picturesquely placed checkpoint on the race with a stunning view of the expanse of Ol Jogi and then a march across a vast open plain dotted with giraffe and zebra but scorched by the beating sun.
Tough days breed heroes and there have been some seriously tough performances out there today. A few runners are getting by on fumes now and the medics are, as always, working hard to keep them in motion. Mark Middlemas re-entered the race today after a day out through sickness and put in an amazing effort to finish in good time. Another runner went from being on the verge of dropping out of the event to crossing the finish line thanks to the support of the medics and a good friend on the course who kept them moving. Race team and runners alike are working together to get as many people as possible across the finish line tomorrow.
Oliver Tovey get’s a special mention for toughing it out today, over-coming some serious discomfort in his legs and feet to cross the line. The other runners, already over the line gave a big cheer for him as he hobbled to the end. He’s in fine spirits and the medics are tinkering with him now.
Shasa Corcoran, our 18-year-old Kenyan entrant, is showing grit which belies his age. He’s in obvious discomfort out there but he will not complain, and he will not quit. We suspect he’d stare down a bull elephant to reach the line.
At the front of the race, Francesco Rigodanza put in a stand out performance, the kind of speed and deftness which comes only from an excellent athlete enjoying their sport to the highest degree. He polished off today’s stage in 3:42:19, comfortably re-taking the overall lead from compatriot Allessio Zambon who came second. Third went again to Abe Nelson and the podium places on the race remain unchanged.
In the women’s race, Jacqui Manson continues to lead overall after winning the stage again today, making it four in a row. Liz Winton came second and retains the place overall, but things have changed in third place. Carolin Botterill, who has plenty of experience of the five-day race format, dug into her reserves today and took third place on the stage and overall.
Tomorrow is the final stretch. The last challenge. The niggles and scrapes and blisters they’ve collected will all be easier to manage knowing, when they take to the line tomorrow, that the next time they stop running they’ll receive a medal.
The race starts at 7am local time (5am UTC).
Join us live on the homepage and on Facebook as we update you on the day’s action.
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/D0e2BeiqmvY” title=”For Rangers Ultra – Trailer” /]
|Overall Position||Name||Runner||Overall Duration|
|40||Edward (James) Savage||58||14:48:00|
|52||Richard Van Aardt||68||15:25:00|