Stage Three is the longest stage of this race and there were some tired and cold looking runners wandering around this morning at breakfast. After warming themselves by our bonfire last night the runners retired to their communal tents toasty warm. By the early hours of the morning though, the heat had dissipated into the clear night sky and moisture had settled on every surface, making the chilly temperatures feel even worse.
Still, we had a little something prepared to inspire our troops. The runners took to the line this morning and, as the sun rose over a ridge looking over our campsite, our helicopter took off and performed a low fly-by to start the pack moving. As a cheer went up and dust was blown around us the helicopter continued to fly over the pack as they headed towards the first hill.
Save the Rhino’s costume was worn by Francesco Rigodanza this morning. Francesco has been exceptional through the first 2 stages and potentially gave up his race lead by carrying the rhino suit through to checkpoint one because he wanted to do his bit for the team.
A number of the racers have referred to today’s stage as a ‘runners course’. The climbs were long but, for the most part, not too steep and there were long stretches on the plains with only undulations to tackle. That’s not to imply that today’s course was easy in any way. The sun was baking hot from around 9am onwards and it took its toll on everyone.
As well as blazing sunshine, Lolldaiga Conservancy had an abundance of wildlife. Though little disruption was caused to the race, the team behind the scenes have been very busy encouraging animals away from the course. There were countless elephant spottings throughout the day as well as zebra and other plains game.
The closest encounter with an elephant came at the end of the race when the runners arrived in Ol Jogi. At our camp outside the spectacular Ol Jogi facilities a male bull elephant and his calf, both raised on the conservancy after being orphaned, stood waiting to greet the runners. The two stood happily eating their dinner as the runners stared in wonder and took pictures.
Arriving at Ol Jogi was no mean feat though and the reward was justified. After CP4 the runners faced a long and at times extremely steep climb, followed by an equally long and technical descent, a nightmare scenario for already battered quads.
Nevertheless, no runner missed the cut-off at CP4 and we have had only three runners withdraw. Mark Middlemass has had stomach problems and two of the Italian runners, Alberto Ferratto and Mario Parise succumbed to minor running-related injuries. All 3 are safe and well and, if they recover adequately, will re-enter the race and rejoin the fun later on if they wish to.
The early helicopter action seemed to spur on the front of the pack and there were some very fast performances over the stage. Not least from Francesco Rigondanza who managed to finish in 3rd position today even after carrying the Save the Rhino costume to CP 1.
The first finishers today were Allessio Zambon who completed the course in an exceptional 5:12:10, followed by Abe Nelson in 5:17:12. Rigodanza crossed the line in 5:39:09. The top three overall at this point stands at Zambon in first 7 minutes ahead of Rigodanza in second with Abe Nelson 10 minutes further back again in third.
In the women’s race, the positions remain unchanged. Jacqui Manson came first today and retains the overall lead over an hour clear of Liz Winton. Kasia Bury remains in third, though almost 3hrs behind the leaders.
Tomorrow the runners cross Ol Jogi conservancy starting at 7am local time (5am UTC). Follow the live tracker on our homepage.
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/66mSacLibpM” title=”When Kris met Sudan” /]
|Position||First Name||Surname||Race Number||Nationality||Stage One||Stage Two||Stage Three||Stage Four||Stage Five||Total|
|First Name||Surname||Race Number||Nationality||Stage One||Stage Two||Stage Three||Stage Four||Stage Five|