There was a little rain overnight but nothing at all compared to the deluge our runners ‘slept’ through at cloud forest base camp last year. Consequently, it was a chirpy and relatively well-rested group who emerged from their hammocks this morning to take their place on the start line.
The sun put in an appearance for the start of the 2019 Jungle Ultra, as did the mayor of Pilcopata and the head of the Manu National Park. These two dignitaries made a speech welcoming our competitors to Peru and thanked them for visiting the region of Kosnipata before leaving with a promise of a celebration after the event at the finish line in the town of Pilcopata.
The atmosphere at the start line is always electric. A mix of excitement and anticipation. The challenge ahead can seem overwhelming runners fluctuate between nervously laughing and chatting and solemnly staring down the trail that will start them on the journey to the medal they came to collect. This morning’s start line was no exception and the usually quiet cloud forest was filled with noise from the crowd of competitors.
Race Director Kris King, co-ordinated a raucous countdown before starting the race with a wave of a giant Peruvian flag.
The race begins with a short stretch of rock strewn mountain road before the runners take a hard left into the jungle. A long winding descent, often treacherously steep, leads down to CP1, a rocky riverbed with white water rushing through. What follows is a scrambling rope climb out of the other side of the valley and an equally long winding climb back up to the road. It’s the first significant climb of the race and takes place at an altitude where it can be hard to catch your breath on the flat.
Much swearing generally ensues as the runners ascend this slope, but the reward is that the rest of the course is a steady descent and every step means more oxygen in the air to power them along.
The sunshine didn’t last all day. This is the rain forest after all. For a couple of hours, the heavens were open and the temperature suddenly dropped as an unusually cold wind drove the rain in. After a morning full of sweat and sun tan lotion, the runners suddenly found themselves donning waterproofs. The wet weather seemed to be set in for the day when, as suddenly as the clouds had appeared, the sky turned blue again and the sun forced another costume change.
The rain held off for the rest of the day and it’s still dry outside now, something for which our runners are not doubt very grateful out there in their hammocks.
There were monkeys spotted along the trail today with some reporting seeing troupes of up to 20 of them bounding around the canopy. There was the usually selection of colourful birds and butterflies along the way as well. One sharp-eyed runner even managed to grab a photo of a snake before it disappeared back into the undergrowth.
This year we have teams of runners from Japan and the Lebanon. The Japanese contingent includes Hiro Takayama and Takashi Okada returning for the second year in a row. Takashi you’ll remember as the man who completed the race last year in his Godzilla style costume. He’s doing it again, this time accompanied by Katsushige Hoshino who completed stage one wearing an octopus hat. The Lebanese team includes some accomplished endurance athletes and they stuck together throughout today’s stage, seemingly enjoying every second.
At the front of the pack it is Danish runner Martin Lambertson who is currently leading the race, just ahead of Frode Lein, a norweigan runner who only entered the race a matter of days before it started. In third place is Britain’s Rob Wood. First female, and fifth overall is Hilary Clinton who put in an amazing performance and looked comfortable throughout. Second female is Carolin Botterill, a seemingly permanent fixture on this race competing this year for the fifth time. She crossed the line with friend and compatriot Jo Bauswein.
Tomorrow’s stage begins at 7:30am local time (13:30 UTC). Tomorrow they’ll tackle a long stretch of thick, humid jungle. It’ll be a test for their already tired legs.
Below are the current standings. Apologies for the issues with the leaderboard on our tracking system. GPS trackers struggle in this environment and, though our tracking team are able to follow the race back at HQ, we’re having some issues getting them to report to our website. We’re working on it.
Thanks for following the race, the runners appreciate your support.
|Edward (James) Savage||58||07:51:00|
|Richard Van Aardt||68||09:15:00|