The camp awoke this morning and quickly the runners were trading stories about the animals they’d heard in the night around our tents. Our camp on Borana sits in the middle of a wide-open grass plain, so the plains game were circling throughout the night.
The race started in two waves this morning, with the slower runners and those who had stopped short on the previous stages all setting out with an extra hour of daylight to reach the finish line in time.
An hour later, the main pack started the stage and once again we used a helicopter as a starting gun. Our pilot gave the runners a haircut as he roared overhead and sent the runners out onto the course.
Today they had 48 hard kilometres to cover and the temperature was scorchingly hot again. The combination of heat and hard trail led to a number of DNF’s today. Clive Midlane, Manabu Yamayoshi, Hiro Takayama, Jacqui Parker, Sharon Firmin, Craig Williams, Gary Mandy and Tony Sheridan all traveled to camp by 4×4 or helicopter. Karl Midlane, however, recovered enough to complete today’s stage and is looking much stronger. All are now at camp here at Ol Jogi, safe and well, listening to the lions roaring in the distance with the rest of us.
There is a serious battle for the overall race win taking place out here with Slovenian runner Skirmantas Sukackas and American Abram Nelson trading places at the top. They finished today’s stage with minutes of each other again. Abram looked to be on course for a second win in arrow as he opened up a lead on the long hilly section leading to CP1, but Skirmantas has very strong road running pedigree and reeled the American in over the flatter sections, eventually crossing the line four minutes ahead. This leaves Abram as the overall leader but he now only has a lead of 4 minutes. We have a fight on our hands.
Third again was Marcus Smith who seems to be happily enjoying every stride of this race. He’s feeling positive and looking strong throughout and now has over an hour on the fourth-placed runner in the overall standings.
The top three women remain unchanged in every sense. For the third day in a row, Sarah Watson came in ahead of Liis Pagil, and Reiko Kato took third. Sarah currently has a twenty five minute lead over Liis with Reiko Kato another hour and a half behind.
It’s been a good day for wildlife spotting. The area the runners crossed early in the day was full of elephants and zebras. We had a particularly close encounter with a couple of elephants at camp on Ol Jogi. The duo were orphaned when they were young and have been raised by the rangers on Ol Jogi. Though still obviously wild animals which must be treated with respect, they calmly strolled into camp and even let a number of runners feed them carrots.
The stars are out now and the sound of lions roaring is echoing around the rocky hills surrounding our camp.
Tomorrow is a shorter stage but there are no fresh legs left here in Kenya. Wish them luck and be sure to keep following them on the live GPS tracker.
|2||Julen Calzada Urdaibai||18:51:00|
|11||Marc Antoine Colonna||25:12:00|
|2||Julen Calzada Urdaibai||11:39:00|
|13||Marc Antoine Colonna||16:25:00|