They say you should start as you mean to go on, so we delayed the start of the race this morning in order to coax a very large buffalo away from the starting area.
This first visitor ushered away, we were able to get the race underway a few minutes later than planned. There was a strong crowd of supporters as our 70 runners took to the line and a big cheer went up as they headed out to tackle 220km of trail.
The atmosphere this morning was festival-like. These runners have been waiting and looking forward to this event for many months. Hours and hours of dedicated training and research have gone into preparing for this race so the sense of anticipation is palpable.
So far, the race seems to be living up to expectations. This is unsurprising given Lewa and Borana Conservancy’s beautiful terrain and wealth of iconic animals.
If you take a look at the race times below, you should take into account that the runners have invariably been stopping every few hundred meters to take photos of elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras, a snake at one point, and more horned animals than you could comfortably shake a big stick at. All kept a safe distance away from the runners by our expert teams of rangers.
Four of those rangers themselves have been one of the top draws of the day. They are taking part in the race themselves alongside For Rangers co-founder Pete Newland who also completed the race last year. They’re carrying full field kit weighing upwards of 25lbs and covering the ground in military boots rather than lightweight trail shoes. Their high spirits and tough performance have made them a firm favourite among supporters and runners alike. Keep an eye out for ‘Ranger One’ on the tracker to follow their progress.
At the front of the pack today, Skirmantas Sukackas took the stage win with an amazingly strong performance. The Slovenian runner lives and trains in Dubai so is accustomed to the heat, but we’re not sure where he did his hill training. In second and third, and only minutes behind, were Marcus Smith and Benjamin Rodgers. It’s worth noting that only 30 minutes separates the top 8 runners so anything at all could happen.
The first woman over the line was Sarah Watson who is placed seventh overall currently. Sarah lives locally and works with Tusk, another organisation supporting rhino conservation and is tearing through her home territory. Not far behind came Liis Pagil who had a very strong day, with Reiko Kato of Japan in third.
Further down the field the runners are looking strong and steady and enjoying the experience. Many of the runners have now buddied up and we can see new friendships forming all over the course as people trade stories of what they’ve seen throughout the day.
Two runners pulled up at CP3 today as their speed of advance was too slow to reach camp before dark – and with the type of wildlife we have around here we cannot have people out at night. Both are fit and happy though, we suspect they took a few too many photography breaks and they will be on the startline for Stage Two.
Tomorrow they’ll have a few more kilometres to cover and a lot of hill climbing to do earlier in the day as they make their way across Borana Conservancy. Temperatures are also expected to be higher with 29 or even 30degrees forecast in places.
Wish them luck and keep following the dots on the tracker. Many of the runners are able to get some signal at camps so keep the encouragement coming on facebook and insta, it all helps them along.
|Julen Calzada Urdaibai||04:57|
|Marc Antoine Colonna||06:56|