What a day… it was always going to be spectacular. A long-stretch of running through a riverbed that involved multiple water crossings, rock hopping and climbing. A steady climb to the impressive waterfalls followed by more technical twisting climbing. A fast descent, climbing and the a long stretch of stunning beach that would be undertaken just as the heat of the day took hold.
The star of the day; was a dog! Yes folks, a dog. As the race departed Dominical Beach a little dog joined Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Mike Wardian and the rest of the elite male field and he ran all the way to the line some 50kms away; incredible.
Running through the river bed overall GC leaders Jo Meek and Mike Wardian struggled with the technicality of the terrain. At the end of the riverbed section, Gaffuri, Clark, Reiter, Beneito and Sa and had gained 10-mins effectively placing Beneito as race leader whilst on the course.
Experienced adventure racer, Veronica Bravo excelled in the tough and harsh conditions and reveled at the opportunity to show her skill. Equally, Julia Bottger started to put time into female race leader Meek. At the waterfall section, Bravo had a convincing lead but any chance of her ability to pull back 90-mins looked limited. Bottger had started to gain a few minutes on Meek and it was quite apparent from Meek’s face as she arrived at the waterfalls that the early part of the course had tested her.
From the waterfalls the guys held it together. They were putting time into Wardian but as Clark went on to say post race. “I think we were taking it just a little too relaxed. We were comfortable and not pushing.” When Wardian arrived he was 14-min in down and looking a little worried. The race was on!
Bottger was having a good day and was well aware that she needed to gain time before the long beach section that would allow Meek to open up her stride and find her natural flat running pace. However, after catching Bravo, Bottger made a navigational error that paved the way for Meek to regain the lead and push on to the finish for another stage win and a substantial gain of time over Bottger and Bravo. In camp, Meek was looking weary, “I had to dig deep today. I found the riverbed so difficult. It’s just not my natural talent. I pushed hard out of the waterfall section to ensure that I gained time back. By the time I hit the beach I knew I just needed to run as hard as possible. However, 12km’s of beach in mid 30’s temperatures are not something you take lightly.”
Bottger had a sense of frustration, “I was feeling good today. I made a wrong turn and lost a junk of time working my way back on to the course. I have no doubt that Meek would have caught me on the beach section though… that’s trail running!”
In the men’s race, Wardian somehow closed a 14-min gap on a small group of leaders made up of Reiter, Beneito and Clark. “I looked around and Mike was there. I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we had him on the ropes” said Clark.
The four entered the beach section and were running neck and neck for a couple of km. “Reiter and myself started to push each other and Beneito and Clark started to fade” said Wardian, “It was a matter of gritting your teeth and hurting.”
“I could hold on no longer” said Clark, “Reiter and Wardian started to pull away and Beneito and myself dropped off. The heat got to me further and I faded again allowing Beneito to pull away from me. It was a darn tough day out there.”
Reiter and Wardian pushed each other to the line, neither able to pull away. Both should be applauded for incredible racing and powers of recovery… Wardian for pulling back an incredible 14-min deficit on the stage and Reiter for recovering from a poor day-1 to potentially move himself back in contention on GC.
Racing days don’t get much better than this!
- Mike Wardian 5:16:52
- Philipp Reiter 5:16:52
- Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 5:19:27
- Nick Clark 5:27:16
- Marti Gaffuri 6:01:27
- Jo Meek 6:39:59
- Julia Bottger 6:47:26
- Veronica Bravo 6:59:43
- Gemma Slaughter 7:40:57
- Hailey Van Dyk 8:12:58
PS – apologies for the late upload, internet connection is sparse and very slow.