Up at 3am, had a coffee and some porridge which was difficult to keep down. Pondering whether I should really attempt 105km with my feet the way they were and general feeling of weakness. But a few of us who were feeling a bit down decided to go for it. As the countdown to the 5am start began, still dark, all head torches on. We went for it…straight into a water crossing which would have impacted on my beautifully taped feet and then into the night. Watching the sun rise over the jungle canopy cannot be replicated by video (lots of it to follow) or pictures. the eerie silence and then the jungle sounds. Picking out a few eyes with the head torches, the pace picked up and we all marched on. Approx 2 hours into it, we came across the first checkpoint. Becky provided some much needed dressing for my chafed inner thigh which had started to leak…some friars balsam to make we weep like a girl was needed to stop and infection and then it was off down the path. The dressing fell off my insect infected leg within seconds.
As the sun started to rise the beautful beach run led into villages and then back into the jungle. Checkpoint 2 came along quite quickly and followed by a very long 9km. By this point I was going a bit loopy, seeing giant frogs the size of humans and then getting lost. I wasnt sick but felt it. The hills came again, more water and my legs and chafing became unbearable. I had a choice, end now and recover before I go home, or push through in agony and pain. as I stumbled into checkpoint 3, after a week of pain and deleriousness I decided at 150km that I should sensibly throw in the towel. The jungle had beaten me fair and square – i had got lost and I had stopped having fun. After some persuasion by the medical team, I managed to firmly say no more and sit back and get nibbled by tics and spiders as I waited for whatever was to happen next.
As more competitors tickled in, the delightfully American Juli Goldstein (who had ABC news with her) and Jacob came through, topped up and carried on. Followed by Kato and Rahim. A few hours later, Craig, Sally and Guy came through after their 5 hour battle and also called it a day. as another chap John came through (he had gunned it for the first few days) he was suffering big time from dehydration and overheating, as the medics tried to revive him, he was starting to shake so the put an IV drop in, sliced off his clothes (i turned away at this point) and threw ice on him to maintain his temp. As he shivered his temp spiked and started to cause a few problems, but the medical team were in control and bought him back round. An ambulance was called (a van) and he was taken off to the hospital an hour or so away.
As the reality set in of what I had done, in terms of distance and survival I waited patiently for my instructions on what to do next. We waited for the medical team to pack up their kit and made our way on the dusty sweat bus to the next checkpoint a few miles down the track where we caught up with some fed up competitors who had done the 9km stage in 4 hours which asks the question, how long is it really ! people were running out of water and starting to look a bit worse for wear. I was feeling rather happy at the prospect of just letting my feet recover and helping out where I could with the other runners. As a few more people came in, they all had to wait until the track was safe – the course had to change as it was now dark and too dangerous to do the jungle section at night. So it was head torches on for the rest of the and head along the village tracks to the next checkpoint. For the rest of us, it was back on the bus to the next checkpoint. Dont really know what happened next as by this point, approx midnight I fell asleep and woke up at the finish of the stage at a very picturesque village/ Amazon beach front where we set up hammocks at 7am amongst the tables and chairs of the restaurants. We rested, recovered and had some proper food. Matt shouted us some piranna, chips and beer which was a welcome change to the freeze dried wallpaper paste we had been getting so used to.
Then as rumours of the race being cancelled, more people pulling out and forest fires, jaguar stories, people getting lost, the ever graceful yet delicate specimen of a man, Daniel Dillon stormed across the beach doing press ups before he hit the finish line. A true inspiration of a runner and looking as effortless as the last few days. as a few more followed later, the race was back in full flow with the ever amazing Jim Binks appearing over the horizon to the cross the line. Only about 12 people finished the 105km stage – inspired.
Katie returned from her checkpoint (paradise by name) and a couple more beers, some Amazonian chicken and more chips to take away the pain in my feet and return my state to a more normal one.
and early night and an early rise to see off the remaining runners finish off their race.