Ice Ultra 2014 Race Report - Stage Four and Finish

It was much colder today, after a positively barmy -4 or -5°C on each of the other days, this morning it was more like -10°C...

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Ice 2014 and Race Reports

Stage 4 – The Sami
It was much colder today, after a positively barmy -4 or -5°C on each of the other days, this morning it was more like -10°C.  A different prospect now lay ahead, how would the course and the competitors react to this sudden change?  Well for a start we had to remove a lake from the end of the rave and route back up towards the Arctic Circle to find our end point of Jokkmokk.  The lake we had designed out of the course strangely (considering the colder weather) because it developed a large hole in the middle with 2.6ft of water.  The hole was large enough and unstable enough for us to cut it from the stage, thus shortening the finish to 80km.  The loss of 10km far outweighing the chance of hypothermia should runners miss the course and plunge straight in.
We had a staggered start today, to try and close the field between the first and last runner.  At the moment we have a space of exactly double (Ed does the stage in 5 hours, the last runner will do it in 10).  This would be dangerous to continue allowing on the long stage, Ed is expected to complete in around 11 hours, where the last runner will push through 22 hours, maybe even more.  The front runners would be set off at 9:00am, a middle group set off at 7:30 and the less speedy pack heading out at 6:00am, this gave us a 3 hour advantage over a full start.
The first athletes left in full darkness, their head torches the only thing betraying their location on yet another expanse of frozen lake.  The second pack set off at 7:30am, fast running in to trouble when they deviated from the route within 2k of the start.  After realising they had missed a turning somewhere they hit the SOS button on their trackers to dispatch our team.  We headed straight for their location and got the group back on track, everyone was fine – even though Matt Dunn’s tacker continued to send us emails all day with a depressed button.  We believe there was a fault with this button which we will of course fix before the jungle gets underway.  We had a second incident where a group of 3 runners deviated later in the day, one of them sending out an SOS, but we had in-fact already spotted the error through the tracking interface and dispatched Brett Rocos our chief medical advisor who was nearby. Brett quickly found them and got them back on track – Dave, Mark and Nick all adding around 5k to their total, making them the recipient of our “230 just isn’t enough award”.  Well done guys!
Ed continued with his awesome pace of 8kmph, in snow shoes for this long stage – for someone that has never used them before this is truly remarkable, he is a special athlete.  Not far behind Ed is Ignacio Prat & Xavi Marina, both fighting over 2nd place, not far behind is Tony Andrades & Christian Norfelt.  Watching the tracking you can see them change places over the course of the day as each one felt the energy to kick on.  Considering the pace of this type of event, it was riveting to watch as the race unfolded live before our eyes, we’re sure friends, family and other runners back home found the same.
The course was designed to give the athletes a taste of each of the varying types of terrain they have seen during the first 3 stages – lakes, forests and more undulating trails.  The latter sneakily coming in to play towards the end, with a very steep climb up a snowy hill, mean but hey, this is a BTU event, #NothingTougher.
The finish was great, the runners winding their way one of Jokkmokk’s cross country skiing track before emerging on the main street running through the town.  The track was lit with candle along the path all the way home to the finish line.  This race more than all the others has been a huge achievement for all concerned.  The medics have had to operate on little sleep in freezing conditions whilst trying to maintain morale among the athletes.  The course staff, working almost 20 hours every day on snowmobiles and behind schedule due to the snow storms on stage 2.  A big thank you to all those that have helped make this event yet another must do race in our series.

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Will Roberts

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