Most of the runners had a night of broken sleep on account of the lion outside the perimeter who roared every half hour or so throughout the night. None of us were brave enough to go and ask him to be quiet.
Camp woke in darkness ahead of a mass 7am start and it took a number of the runners a good while to get their stiff legs moving this morning and the amazing Exile Medics had had their work cut out for them patching up a collection of very impressive blisters.
Still, at 7am , all runners bar one took to the line . Clive Midlane didn’t go out today but has instead been behind the scenes with the race team making himself useful and enjoying a different kind of adventure.
Stage Four starts with a short stretch of 4×4 trail before taking a hard turn off to the left and into a deep gulley, carved by the rains into the ground. At it’s deepest it’s a good 30ft deep with columns of red earth all topped with rocks. The pictures don’t quite do it justice so keep your eye out in the coming weeks for the footage our helicopter based video team managed to gather.
By 8am the temperature starts to rise around here and by 10am it was sweltering again as the runners tackled the long, long climb up to CP2. What they’re rewarded with at the top is one of the most spectacular view on any of our races. A never-ending savannah head out as far as the eye can see dotted with watering holes and rock koppies. Thankfully there was a good breeze up there too to cool the runners a little and by midday cloud cover kept the worst of the heat at bay.
The fight for first place took a big turn today as American Abe Nelson found another gear. He and second placed Skirmantas Sukackas of Lithuania (not Slovenia as this sleep-deprived blogger typed yesterday) were separated by only four minutes this morning. By CP2, Abe had opened up a lead on the hilly section and this time, he could not be reeled in. Abe crossed the line a full 52 minutes ahead today giving himself a cushion of almost an hour going into the final day. In third, Marcus Smith pushed on today too and, though he wasn’t able to overtake Skirmantas, he came within 10 minutes and opened up the gap between himself and fourth placed Brian Markussen.
The women’s podium is unchanged for the fourth day in a row. Sarah Watson once again held the lead and has tightened her grip on a top ten position overall. She currently sits 6th with a comfortable distance between herself and second placed Liis Pagil who currently sits in 8th. In third once again was Japanese runner Reiko Kato who has slowed a little and currently sits in 15th.
Team Ranger One are fighting through some boot related foot trauma to reach the finish line. One of their number has entirely the wrong ratio of blister to foot and has been forced to retire. We weren’t sure anything could stop Pete Newland but the blisters he has developed have made progress impossibly slow and he has stepped out of the race to allow his team-mates to push on.
Karl Midlane made a bright start this morning and comfortably made it to CP2 today. However, his stomach problems struck again not long after and he was brought home by the race team. Similarly, Jacqui Palmer, Tony Sheridan, Craig Williams, Sharon Firmin, and Manabu Yamayoshi all travelled home by 4×4 or helicopter today too. All of them are fine, if a little battered, and some may attempt the stage tomorrow.
For some of the slower runners, it is taking an immense amount of mental fortitude to keep moving on their ragged feet and aching legs. There were a few tears at the finish line today. A mix of relief and pride and fatigue. Cheers went up all around camp as the last runners crossed the line today.
Tomorrow’s final stage is 45km long and crosses Ol Pejeta. It is also World Rhino Day. It’s almost as if we planned it that way.
There is little doubt they will see a lot of wildlife there as they approach the finish line and their medal tomorrow. The finish line itself sits exactly on the equator and we’ll have a cold drink waiting for them there before they head to Sweetwaters Lodge for a night of celebration and excessive over-eating.
Wish them luck for the final push.
Stage Four results are below as well as the current, full overall standings.
|3||ALEX DE SPIEGELEER||10||15:17:00|
|26||EDWARD YIN CHAN||45||22:49:00|
|KATHERYN DE FERRER||DNF|
|Name||Runner||S2 Finish Time|
|ALEX DE SPIEGELEER||10||14:58:00|
|EDWARD YIN CHAN||45||18:40:00|