Leaving Tono camp our runners followed a 4×4 track, which followed and occasionally forded a river, for 4km before reaching our big zipwire crossing. The zipwires around here are the lifeline of the smaller communities in the area. They are used to carry people and supplies into areas which can’t be reached by vehicle or by foot. They are simple platforms suspended from a thick steel cable and are usually pulled along by hand. People in these communities are often recognisable due to their missing fingers, lost when they are caught in the trolleys on which the platform travels. For the purposes of our race, we rig a rope and pulley system and squeeze our runners into harnesses before they embark on their trip across the water.
Next came the logging roads which criss-cross this area and give this stage it’s name. These were described as ‘undulating’ in the race brief. This description fits right up until the final few kilometres which contain the first monster climb of the race. Not too steep but seriously long and exposed to the intense sunshine we had today. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for most of the day, usually a blessing, but it made for some sun-baked runners.
What comes up must come down and this gruelling climb is followed by a knee pounding descent into the beautiful and remote village of Santa Rosa, our camp for the night. In the village, each runner was met by one of the local children in traditional dress and given a hand-made bead necklace as a medal.
Sondre continues to assert his dominance, winning again to make it 3 stages in a row. However, tomorrow brings up some extremely technical terrain and the longest stage is yet to come. The Jungle is full of surprises. Tommy Chen put in a strong day, coming in second position and this time opening up a greater lead over 3rd placed Fabian Breitsamer.
Ben Rodgers didn’t start today due an injury caused to his knee caused by the wear and tear of 2 days of hard trail. David Kunz has also dropped out of the race, the heat and exertion taking it’s toll and leaving him struggling to eat properly. Both runners will be fine after some rest.
You’d think the runners would be pretty much stationery after the 3 days they’ve had, just putting their feet up and resting. Still, nobody can resist the urge of a group of kids with a football and despite the hammering their legs have taken an impromptu game kicked off among the kids of Santa Rosa and the runners’ camp as dusk fell. Only darkness and a surly elder brought the game to a close.
Large clouds are forming in the sky over Pilcopata as I type. The runners will no doubt have their fingers crossed that the rain will hold off tonight and leave them to sleep before Stage 4, the notorious ‘Lull.’