Jungle kilometres are different to normal kilometres... usually a lot more difficult.
The lovely thing about arriving 2 days early before you set off for a race is the time you spend getting to know some of the competitors. The little town of Alter do Chao was a hub of excitement in the days leading up to the race start. The boat left the wharf at midnight and we were expected to be there by 10.00pm. At 9.30pm Geoff and I rocked up to an excited crowd all ready to board. The media were present, a lovely group of people from Japan were making a documentary on this most extreme endurance race in the world. They had 3 competitors but were also keen to add a further touch of interest and interview Geoff and I and follow our progress throughout the race. Goodness knows if they will ever get around to making a doco about it but it was fun all the same.
The long course (20km) has a great mix of runnable, and technical terrain. Due to the above, and perhaps the appeal of the self proclaimed NZ Trail Running Championship the event attracts a unique blend of trail runners, road runners, orienteers, and various other forms of runners. Each brings with them a different set of skills, which makes for an exciting event to be part of.
Geoff here. This is a Brazilian laptop where the keyboard doesn't make sense so (as) much as it pains me this is going out without punctuation. This has been an epic adventure. We are currently in a little village on the shores of the Amazon with white sand beaches and thatched huts, waiting out the penultimate day while the remaining competitors slog it out. I have completed my four days but the seven day effort would have been quite beyond me. It was brutal, but now that Im finished its a buzz. On each day I was one of the last to finish so I was out there for longer than anyone else, and got less recovery time before we had to go out into the blast furnace again. The terrain is hard enough but the heat is intense.
To put it into perspective, when Sue set out on Stage 5 yesterday morning, she was feeling as exhausted when she started, as she was when she finished the afternoon before. She has only managed to get a couple of hours sleep each night due to the heat and the hammock, so she is massively sleep deprived. She had to get up at 2.30 to be ready for the 4.30 start. She has blisters on her feet that make you cringe. The temperature soon got up to 45 degrees. Approaching the third checkpoint she had stopped talking, her pupils were the size of a pinhead, her face was ashen. At the checkpoint they gave her some water which she promptly vomited up. Ahead of her lay seven more checkpoints and and 70 kilometres to be traversed on dusty red roads, jungle trails with inadequate markings, or rocky coastline, some in the 40 degree heat of the day, the rest in pitch darkness. On medical advice, she withdrew at that point.
All of the other competitors can tell a similar story. About 10 have made it through so far, and I dont know how many are still out there. Ironically we are now resting up in a little tropical beach hideaway reminiscent of Fiji. I am feeling great and Sue is making a speedy recovery. I just wanted to let you know that this event lives up to its billing, but we are having a fabulous time. THIS HAS GONE ONTO UPPER CASE BECAUSE I PUSHED A WRONG BUTTON SOMEWHERE. BUT THAT WILL DO FOR NOW. WELL TELL YOU THE REST OF IT WHEN WE GET BACK.