This ultra-marathon is not for the faint-hearted. No ultra-marathon is, but this one is particularly nasty. I think maybe it’s the combination of stultifying heat and being wet for much of the 240-odd kms that makes this one particularly difficult. And those long nights in the pitch black of the jungle with more than half the world’s creepy crawlies (some 30 million different types apparently!) wondering harmfully, or not so harmfully – though it’s difficult to quell your imagination, around – quel horreur!
The Jungle Marathon was a concept which originated in Britain. The race was set up in response to the overwhelming desire of many ultra race runners for a new challenge through an extreme environment. Competitors are entirely self sufficient carrying all their own equipment and provisions such as water, food, hammocks and first aid kits, but there are medics at each stage and technical and ground assistance is provided by Brazilian and European personnel experienced in ultra race events, jungle adventure trekking and survival activities – and all the water you may need to stock up with… in fact, you are not allowed to leave a check-point without at least 2.5 litres of fresh water.
The Jungle Marathon Stages
The 6 stages are all between 20 – 40kms apart from Stage 5 which is a real corker – 105 km with an 0530hrs start – it’s a non stop overnight stage with a cut-off time of 1900hrs on the second day.
- The course route is along pre-existing paths, trails and tracks through primary jungle.
- There will be natural obstacles to pass including streams and shallow rivers.
- The route will be well marked using coloured tape, paint markings and the use of landmarks to find your way.
- Although great navigational skills are not a prerequisite, commonsense is.
- The night stage will be clearly illuminated and along easily navigable routes.
- Guidance for each stage will be given before departure each day.
The Jungle Marathon in the Amazon Rainforest
Extremely good general fitness is vital for this race and a recommended training schedule of at least 80 – 90 kms a week is recommended. The race is approximately 242 kms long.
The jungle can be a dangerous place to wonder about in and so for this reason a detailed briefing is given to runners by a military jungle specialist who highlight dangers in the jungle and how to avoid them. This includes encountering wildlife, dealing with the terrain, dangerous and poisonous plants to avoid and your action plan if you are lost.
Subject to continued local authority approval, the 2012 edition of Jungle Marathon will take place in the Floresta National de Tapajos, in Para, Brazil, between the 4th and 13th of October 2012.You can still register online at the the Jungle Marathon site.
A final word of advice, if you are contemplating doing this race, take plenty of mosquito repellent, practice how to hang your hammock and mosquito net so that no insects can find their way in!
The organisers might seem as if they’re tapping into your sado-masochistic side, but your safety is of paramount importance to them. It is the overriding issue in any decision to do with the race and they plan the course around this. However, they do stipulate that “the Jungle is a dangerous environment and you should be aware of this before you apply to take part in the race. Not everyone is prepared to take part in an event in an extreme environment so please consider this carefully.”