It has begun! The Jungle Ultra 2017 is well under way. Robinson, the manager of Wayqecha Lodge, where we set our Cloud Forest Base Camp, set the runners off by blowing the massive conch shell which usually has pride of place in the lodge’s massive dining room.
Stage One is a manageable sounding 38km, stretches of it are run on packed trail and the overall profile of the stage sees the runners descend from 9000ft down through cloud forest to around 3,500ft over the stage. The runners could be forgiven for feeling like we’re easing them in gently.
This area is not to be under-estimated though. 2 years in a row the road down the mountain has ended the race of a runner within the first 5km as they’ve rolled their ankles over the rocks strewn on it’s surface. Thankfully not this year though as everyone managed to negotiate the trail.
The runners have been exposed to the sunshine for most of the day. There are some pink necks out there in camp and the intense sunshine has taken it’s toll on those near the back of the pack who have been out on the trail for a long time. Everyone is safe and well tonight but the medics were required to assist some fatigued people at the finish line.
4 hours ahead of the back marker the first runner crossed the line. Sondre Amdahl is currently 15 minutes ahead of Tommy Chen in 2nd position. Sondre covered the rough road down to tonight’s camp so quickly the truck containing the media team couldn’t keep up with him and only caught him on camera once in the day. This despite stopping on the trail at one point due to a large snake blocking his progress! Only 20 minutes separate the first 4 runners though so this race could still be anybody’s.
We have a team of nine German runners who are distinguishing themselves with their morale, their incredible efficiency with which they handle their camp admin and with just how many of them have managed to run their way into the top ten.
Jeff Lau has headed out into the race with a large teddy bear attached to the front of his pack as a mascot and, so far, Jeff and Bear are doing well, both crossed the line in good condition. Hopes are high that both will reach the finish line.
Steve Hill MBE set a steady pace, taking time out regularly to collect photos to show to his pupils back in the UK. Mr Hill is out here on one of his regular fundraising expeditions and has letters of support and a flag in his pack all made by his primary school class back home.
The team and the runners will spend tonight at Cock of the Rock camp. They’ve Set up their hammocks and must now cross their fingers that they have done a good enough job to keep out the rain. As the last of the sunlight disappears, the heavens have opened over camp.