CLOUD FOREST BASE CAMP
The runners have arrived at Base Camp having traveled from around the world and gathered in Peru. Tomorrow at 3:30pm GMT (9:30am in Peru) they will set off from the start line and take the first strides of many thousands that lay ahead as they wind their way through 230km of staggering scenery.
About now, and despite a bus breakdown during the long journey from Cusco, the runners will be preparing for race briefings and kit inspections in our presentation room. The room has one enormous glass wall and with their nerves tingling, they’ll be looking out, mostly for the first time, at the cloud forest; deeply forested mountains, their peaks rising out of a shroud of bright white, endlessly undulating cloud which covers the Amazonian valleys for miles around. At 3200 meters above sea level the views are incredible. But the air is thin. It won’t be easy work adjusting to the low oxygen levels and this is just one amongst the challenges ahead of them.
They’ve travelled here from many places and each will undertake this massive challenge for their own reasons. As the runners wait in anticipation of the stories they’ll accumulate along the way, our team has found a little time to update us on some stories of their own. The race may start tomorrow but this isn’t the start of the story of Jungle Ultra 2015.
Our race directors, Andy and Kris, arrived in Lima laden with specialist equipment on the 1st and immediately managed to cause a stir in the airport with their military grade GPS tracking systems, satellite phones, drones and camera equipment. Seemingly unsure if these travellers were organising an Ultra Race or staging a ‘not so covert’ incursion on behalf of British Intelligence, the Peruvian Customs officials kept the team sweating for a good 2 hours before Andy’s negotiating skills allowed them to enter the country and get the Jungle Ultra 2015 started.
Andy and Kris are joined on their journey by Ross, our intrepid videographer. Eager to capture as much of this adventure as possible, BTU brought Ross on board recently to document as much of the enormous event as possible. Ross, a Northern Film School graduate, has already accumulated credits making music videos for James Bay and Royal Blood amongst others. Ross has wasted no time taking on his mammoth task and began filming and photographing as soon as he hit the ground. Rarely seen not wielding a camera, he has already managed to send us an interview with Andy from Cusco, collect some stunning drone-camera imagery and befriend the hordes of inquisitive children who follow the team.
Travelling across Peru and organising the local team along the way, the team arrived at what has become base camp on the 4th and have been combing every metre of the trails to make sure they are ready for the runners. This has meant testing the zip wires, crossing the rivers and generally having an amazing time while they work. Bumping from village to village in their trusty pick-up truck, the team have been sampling and enjoying the local hospitality; though Kris does claim to have been mugged by an unhospitable monkey at one point.
Kris, currently training for an attempt at breaking the British record for speed climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, couldn’t resist the opportunity to start their first day on the course by fitting in a training run of his own and admits to being moved to a few ‘happy tears’ by the experience of daybreak in the jungle. This race represents another amazing leg in a long journey for Kris. In 2014 he navigated the entire British coastline undertaking 22 x 100 mile bike rides and 12 Marathons with no rest days and was nominated for a Pride of Britain award for his advocacy work for Huntington’s disease; He describes working with Beyond the Ultimate as his dream job.
There’ll be many tears, happy and otherwise, over the coming days as the runners each complete their own personal journeys. As these tales unfold our team in Peru will send everything their remote satellite uplink will allow and we in the UK team will pass it on to you.
As the race goes on, we will bring everything to you that we can in the hope that, as each of our 29 runners undertake their journeys, we can take one together as well.