Leaving camp today our runners got a real taste of the amazon rain forest. Having passed through a variety of different eco-systems over the day yesterday, today, after CP2, they dropped into the jungle proper.
The sweltering humidity of the jungle and the grasping mud which makes up so much of the sodden trail in there makes the going slow. Though shorter than yesterday’s course, Stage Two has taken more out of the runners. More time and more effort. Still, there were no major climbs today.
The runners past along 21km of muddy and rock strewn road in the searing sunshine from Cock of the Rock Camp to check point 2 before veering left off the road and making their way across some agricultural land and, after a few twists and turns, very suddenly passing through an arch cut into the thick jungle and into another world.
On entering the jungle, the light levels immediately drop and the humidity levels immediately rise. What follows is a beautiful but chokingly hot stretch of the race until eventually the runners find themselves, quite suddenly, at the finish line.
Today was a great day for spotting wildlife. At 8am this morning the whole media team and many of the runners could be found behind Cock of the Rock camp taking pictures with the monkeys which live there and catching glimpses of the luridly bright humming birds which come to the spot to feed.
Towards the end of the day Nadia, our chief medic, and Kris, watched as a snake passed across the trail by the finish line about 30cm from their feet. It seemed innocuous enough until they described it to one of the local guides who calmly informed them that they had just seen one of the most venomous snakes in the area. A timely reminder of how dangerous this area can be.
Sondre Amdahl won today’s stage but only shortly ahead of Tommy Chen. Though he’s now beginning to build a lead there is some seriously tough terrain ahead in the coming days and anything could happen. Fabian Breitsamer is also closing the gap now coming, within 5 minutes of Tommy Chen.
A little further down the pack alliances are forming. Simon Blair, Rob Edwards and Johnathan Zeffert have finished both days together so far and are now being referred to as The Inbetweeners by the medics.
Steve Hill is at the back of the pack at the moment but he’s still soldiering. His efforts today weren’t helped after tearing a hole in one of his shoes before even leaving camp this morning. Steve, who is fundraising for local charities and carrying letters of encouragement from his primary school pupils at home, says he can’t wait to talk to his kids about his adventure and is still looking strong and cracking jokes.
Tonight, our runners are at Tono camp and they are back in their hammocks. The rain has held off so far and we’re hopeful that it will continue to defy our expectations of a day in the rain forest and stay dry for a day or three longer. There is a large river running past the campsite where most of the runners have been to take a cold, refreshing dip after a sweaty day on the trail.
Tomorrow morning we will be staggering the start as there is a large river which requires a zipwire to cross ad we don’t want everybody having queue up to get across! The top 15 runners will be released at 7:15am and everyone else at 8am. That’s 13:15 or 14:00 BST.