Journey to Cloud Forest Base Camp
The day begins in Cusco and it begins early. It’s been festival season of late in this historic city but this morning it is silent. There are only stray dogs and the occasional taxi ferrying explorer types out into the mountains when the runners gather under street lights outside the seriously luxurious Ruinas Hotel. They’ve each had a day of site-seeing and a night in abundant comfort in this peaceful town but this morning they and the race team shatter the quiet on the streets as the journey to the start of the Jungle Ultra 2016 rumbles into life.
A convoy of minibuses line one side of the road, engines humming. There are voices in various accents everywhere as the Peruvian team strap heavy bags to van roofs and tick names off checklists. Runners chatter excitedly, laughing together as they cram themselves into vehicles and cram in whatever they’ve managed to grab from the breakfast buffet.
And then we’re away. Powering out into terrain where there is a beautiful view or an oncoming truck around every hairpin bend. The air is cold and very thin as we rise up out of Cusco, and the sunlight is piercingly bright.
It would be a shame not to soak in some of the sites that this area of Peru has to offer and we stop from time to time for the vistas our drivers think cannot be missed and at a small market town for last minute sweets and snacks. Breaking up a break neck journey to the cloud forest.
After 5 hours the armada of endurance athletes arrives in a cloud of dust and get their first view of their home for the night. From here they see banks of clouds the sky wide rolling and boiling above the rainforest canopy in a valley which stretches out to the horizon.
There is little time to stop though before we are all gathered together for race briefings, runner registrations and kit inspections. Anticipation rises as Race Director Kris describes the kilometres of tough terrain, the punishing temperatures and the strength sapping humidity. The rows of tents buzz with chatter as the medics make their rounds and the athletes trade stories and compare kits. Only as the sun begins to set does something like calm begin to return to this remote area of Peru.
At the time of writing this blog it is dark outside, utterly dark and all is finally and fully quiet again. In their tents the runners will do their best to rest as they contemplate the task ahead tomorrow.
At 9am local time they begin the adventure of a lifetime.
Early tomorrow, when the runners leave base camp so do the race team and the media team. Internet access in the coming days is by no means a certainty. We will do our best to send out whatever information we can whenever we possibly can.