There’s no point in introducing you to an interesting topic such as an up-coming race, without telling you more about it once it has begun. Don’t you agree? This extreme sport blog would be a pretty hopeless site if we didn’t keep you updated…
And RacingThePlanet Namibia is as extreme as they go and well worth following.
A quick reminder as to what this is all about…
RACINGTHEPLANET is a unique category of rough country footraces that take place over seven days and some 250 kilometers in remote and culturally rich locations around the world. Competitors must carry all their own equipment and food, are only provided with water and a place in a tent each day but are supported by professional medical and operations teams.
The first day, Sunday, 17th May got off to a good start, but was a technically challenging race for everyone as they had to descend into Fish River Canyon, ford several rivers and climb out again. “Very very nasty, albeit beautiful, “ was the general concensus. Kenneth Perry from the United States has had to withdraw due to a sprained ankle.
Salvador Caldo Redondo (Spain) won the first stage arriving with panache at 12:24:17. In 2nd place was Ryan Sandes (South Africa) at 12:48:14. He confirmed that the canyon section was, “tough” a situation which was not helped by the fact that he is running with overstretched ligaments in his right ankle. “At least it isn’t broken,” he said. 3rd was 60-year old running legend Marco Olmo (Italy) at 12:54:48. Only 30 minutes separates the top three.
In the women’s division, Lucy Hilton (United Kingdom) placed 1st (6th overall), Lia Farley (United States) placed 2nd (8th overall), and Lucy Marriott (United Kingdom) placed 3rd (10th overall). Their times were 13:23:09, 13:48:15 and 14:04:47 respectively. Less than an hour separates the front running women.
The first team to place was Team Swana (Israel) at 14:45:47. Kobi Itzchaki (Israel) described the difficulties they faced in the river crossing, saying they were “weak, tired and very tired. But now, we feel great – we are really happy with our performance today.”
Many competitors were considerably slowed down by the technical climb out of the canyon, so there will be a fair few walking in the dark tonight. In fact two competitors opted to spend the night in the canyon – Leonora Rodriguez (Costa Rica) and Gudrun Rottges (Germany).
By the end of the first night, 4 more competitors had withdrawn – Edward Lang (Australia), Ding Yun (China), Kathleen Russo (United States) and Mark Jaget (United States).
Christian Lambert (United Kingdom) described it for everyone, “after check-point 1, the second leg was very difficult, long and hot, and once you left the river behind, it was even tougher because of the ladders and the scramble up – it required a lot of technical finesse and agility. Despite this, the scope of the terrain and mountains was truly beautiful…it was set up well, but the actual course was difficult.”
Day Two saw everyone going well despite soreness from the previous day’s climb out of the canyon. But there was a dramatic end to the day – Shima Naoyuki (Japan) went missing at about 1800 just 2km away from camp 3. He missed the turning point into the campsite when it was dark, and lost sight of his two Team Funky teammates. Panic set in and he began to walk towards the nearest visible road and followed that path for approximately 4km until he decided to take a rest in the night. He spent the entire evening out in the Namibian Bush. A search and rescue mission was launched at 2200 that night, and his team continued to scour the surrounding area for Naoyuki until he was found at 0600 the following morning (Day Three). Naoyuki said, “I was very scared the whole night because I could hear animal noises.” Temperatures plummeted to below 5 degrees Celsius during the night.
Competitors were reminded in the morning’s course briefing about the importance of following the markers, and turning back if none had been seen for 200 metres.
The last three racers came into camp at 21:12:50 last night. All 3 were from South Korea. This is a truly international gathering.
The race got off to an early 0800 hrs start this morning (19th May) with 128 competitors passing through check-point 9. Three competitors blazed through check-point 10: Ryan Sandes (South Africa), Salvador Calvo Redondo (Spain) and Marco Olmo (Italy). It is a fast stage, with long flats of hard sand, but there will be a challenge presented by a section of large, sharp boulders….
More on this race later and thank you to racingtheplanet for the videos.