At sun-up this morning there were some tired runners bumbling around camp. The wildlife around here doesn’t respect office hours and there were plenty of growls, grunts and howls throughout the night. If that wasn’t enough to cause some sleeplessness among people already feeling pre-race nerves, then the surprisingly cold temperatures did the job.
Still, as the sun rose, bring the temperature up with it, spirits were raised too.
We had a lot of spectators at the start line to see the runners off on this remarkable event, the near life-sized rhino costume at the front of the pack causing a particularly large stir. At 8am, after a loud choral countdown, the runners (and rhino) set off into Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
Within the first few kilometres, there were giraffe and zebra and some of the runners even spotted a rhino being shepherded to a safe distance as a race team set about their duties.
The race team made their presence felt throughout the day. It is a curious feeling to be travelling through terrain so expansive but to still be forever in sight of one of the ranger team. The horseback patrols kept elephant herds at a distance where the runners could marvel at them without the fear of a close encounter, the airborne reconnaissance plane could be seen in the sky throughout the day and the rangers themselves stood at high points throughout the course keeping a well-trained eye on their surroundings.
Early in the stage the runners passed through a series of settlements and found themselves propelled to celebrity status. The trail was lined with children cheering and high fiving the runners, others ran alongside them for stretches. The sight of a procession of ultra-runners making their way through the area was a definite first. This is the last time the runners will see villages until later in Stage Five and, though it’s obviously the wildlife which has attracted most people to this race, they’ll be looking forward to another warm welcome near the end of their journey.
Between CPs 2 and 3 there stands a couple of kilometres of ridgeline with massive views on either side. Though it was a long grind of a climb to get to this point, the pack were rewarded, not only with the beautiful scenery on either side of them but with their first sighting of a herd of elephants moving through the trees lower in the valley. This would be by no means the last glimpse of these giants as another large herd made an appearance at CP3.
CP3 itself stands within sight of a monolithic rocky outcrop which inspired the Disney artists researching the area before making Lion King. This massive feature was the inspiration for Pride Rock. Anyone who claims to have left CP3 without a song from the film going around their head is almost certainly lying.
All runners finished the course today and, though many are a little sun-kissed and there are the usual sore legs and feet, nobody has any medical issues to speak of. All the runners were back at camp in daylight and are currently sitting out under the last light of dusk comparing notes on what they saw throughout the day.
At the head of the pack the Italian contingent of runners, all of whom are helping to fund-raise and raise the profile of the rangers’ work and the conservation efforts being made here in Laikipia County in their native Italy, dominate the top 5. Francesco Rigodanza finished the stage in 4hrs 10 minutes, just 8 minutes ahead of Alession Zambon in second. Breaking up the domineering Italians, was Maritz Theron of South Africa who was third, just 3 minutes behind Zambon. 4th and 5th places are currently held by Alberto Ferretto and Mateo Parise.
First in the womens’ race is Elizabeth Winton who finished in only 5hrs 14 minutes. Only 3 minutes behind her Jacqueline Manson is currently second and Kasia Bury took 3rd in 6hrs and 29 minutes.
Tomorrow the action begins at 7am Local time. Be sure to keep track of the runners’ progress on our homepage.
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/c_LhxonmWMc” title=”For Rangers Ultra Testimonials – Simon Blair” /]
|Position||First Name||Surname||Race Number||Nationality||Stage Three|