At 3am the race team starts climbing out of their bunks in Race HQ, Gallitos de las Rocos Hotel in Pilcopata, the town where the Jungle Ultra ends. By 3:30 am the hotel and the street outside are an ant farm. Supplies are being carried to the vehicles, food is being hurriedly stuffed into mouths and bags and Bertha, the logistical genius, is directing the drivers on where and when they need to go.
The plan has changed in the few hours since everybody went to sleep, the forward teams have reported that heavy rain further up the valley has caused a part of the river our runners would usually cross is deeper and faster flowing than it had been the day before. The route will need a last-minute detour which will add more kilometers to an already massive last day. This is the jungle. The jungle sets the route.
Amid all this, the runners gather on the start line. Bleary-eyed and trepidatious. They have come so far only to find they have so far left to go. They woke at 3am also and have been cramming in breakfast and cramming themselves into their still sodden race clothes for the last hour and a half.
A little after the scheduled start time, the race begins with a long stretch of road overhung by thick canopy making the darkness near total. This is there welcome into a seriously strenuous day. They pass through a number of small settlements as the sun rises as they make their way to CP1. The gap from CP1 to CP2 is long due to the re-route and, despite the detour avoiding the heaviest waters, they will cross the river which lies in this section over and over again during a seemingly endless stretch of the course. The terrain and water make footing unstable and running near impossible. It also soaks battered feet and works away at the tape and plasters which have been used to patch them up.
CP2 – CP3 is another long section, this time predominantly of road exposing the runners to the worst of the sun in the middle of the day. They pass through an area of farmland here before heading back into more jungle terrain at CP3. Those taking on the long course turn off road here and head onto the final climb of the race. A brutally steep up and down on terrain so muddy the descent is a mudslide.
Those taking on the short-course will follow the muddy rock-strewn road to the finish line at Pilcopata. It’s a long and difficult course even if you haven’t been suffering for 4 days.
There is no doubt that, whether at the front or the back of the field, this day took everything out of each of the runners. There were tears on the course before the day was over as runners looked into their packs and saw their calories depleted and as the pain in their feet and knees increased.
At the front of the pack, Jamie Bromfield was dominant again. He began the day fearing that he’d left to much of himself on the course the day before and left too little in reserve. His fears were unfounded though and he looked strong as he passed along the course. Chris Moore found something left in the tank too and put in a stellar performance to take 2nd. Roar Storm came next. He was separated from his twin for the first time in the race after his brother developed a hamstring problem. Roar then pushed on and got himself a podium place for the day.
In the women’s race, Carolin Botterill was the only runner to beat the short course cut-off time and as such took the win. This sealed her place as the overall winner on her fourth race through the jungle. It’s worth noting that this accolade led the local band at the medal ceremony today to play a song in her honour. Second and third overall were Lucie Luft and Barbara Jones, although both took the short course on Stage Five.
Jamie Bromfield’s exceptional last day sealed the overall win for him also. Not bad at all for somebody who insists he is not a runner. Sean Budden did enough earlier in the race to clinch 2nd despite injury slowing him significantly on the final day. Chris Moore’s excellent run on day 5 pushed him up into 3rd just one minute ahead of Pete Liggins.
Never before in this race has the overall winner also taken King of the Hill, the timed hill climb at the end of stage 4 but this year Jamie Bromfield became the first to do both. In the women’s race, Queen of the Hill went to Barbara Jones.
Tony Sheridan, Tia Beckman, Ann Evans, Sarah Draper and Jacqui Burke win the ‘Team Spirit’ award for forming Tony’s Angels and keeping each other going throughout the long stage.
Award for wildlife spotting has to go to Juan Jordan and Sally Smith who supported each other through the final 2 stages and seeing snakes and apparently even a jaguar along the way. Juan also becomes our first Puerto Rican competitor and finisher.
Award for the best running outfit obviously goes to Takashi, the Japanese professional wrestler/martial artist who covered the entire course in his green and red monster mask.
There are other accolades no doubt, and these will be being allocated right now as the runners sit in Pilcopata, wearing their medals, sampling the cerveza, and exchanging stories of the race. I’ll leave that to them.
It’s been a hard year. The weather made this one seriously tough, but it has also been, as always, a beautiful race. We are eternally thankful to the Manu National Park and the local municipality for their support as well as that of Prom Peru, Amazon Conservation and more besides. We’d also like to thank the consistently fantastic Exile Medics who once again kept our runners safe, well and also entertained. A truly massive ‘Muchas Gracias’ has to go to JC, Bertha, Gloria, Bruno and each and every one of the Peruvian race team. The tireless work they do throughout the week makes this race possible.
A final thank you is reserved for families, friends, and followers back at home for their support of the runners and of the race.
Below is the results table. The times for the Short Course runners will be added in due course. It is important to say at this point that the Short Coursers are winners in their own right and thoroughly deserve the medal they’ve received. These slower runners may not challenge the leaderboard but when we show you their times you’ll see the monstrously long days they have endured out there. Nobody puts in a performance of grit and determination like that and doesn’t earn a medal!
[arve url=”https://youtu.be/45-7RVoJMXs” title=”Jungle Ultra 2018 Trailer” /]
|Position||First Name||Surname||Race Number||Nationality||Stage One|