Stage 2 Course:
Stage 2 traverses some of the most beautiful rock formations in the White Desert
Here's a video of 72-year-old Jack Denness (the Oldest Racer)
It was a beautiful start to a day aptly named, “The White Desert”. Stage 2 was slightly longer at 38km, but there was the promise of encountering a spring where competitors could cool off and rinse their buffs –they were warned not to ingest or enter the water in order to prevent contamination or infection if they had open wounds. There were several sections to the course which were extremely undulating, and at times, downright steep – so many of the competitors who preferred flatter running ground found this stage harder than yesterday’s, which was mostly flat.
Already at Stage 2, some competitors are finding the psychological aspect of the race trying, and had different methods to overcome the darker side of these events that are often overlooked. Some, such as Kent D. Gikas (USA) relied heavily on the camaraderie he had forged with Rodney J. Bovee (UK). Saying, “I just felt so disorientated the whole day, and then I realized why I was here, and it was because of people like him [Bovee].” Other competitors were feeling worse for wear, and foot injuries really began to surface with a vengeance. Alasdair G. Macdonald (UK) found that his crocs were more comfortable than his running shoes, so switched them at Check Point 3 of this event. “I had been training with the same socks as at home,” he said, “but I found that they bunched up here for some reason.” This sort of incident highlights how important it is to be prepared, as equipment performs differently in various climates.
By Check Point 6, many of the participants were thoroughly exhausted, and the heat had begun to get to them. Others were in good spirits. Simon P. Southgate (UK) joked, “I heard that there was an ice-cream van just around the corner.” Kasper Hjorteberg (Denmark) said, “the best part of today was the check points. I felt so emotional when I came up the hill, but I didn’t want to be guy who was crying as the main issue of next year’s race.”
Above all, without exception, competitors praised the beauty of the scenery, especially the huge descent down into a ravine which was steep, but provided the best vantage point from which to see across the endless bounds of the white desert unfolding around as far as the eye could see. Many participants seized this opportunity to take photos of each other, and felt as if they were on top of the world. Woon Noh Cheung (S. Korea), the blind competitor who is attempting this race, was in excellent spirits, and lent insight to this event that other’s overlook. Although many other competitors complained about the mounds of endless sand, Cheung said that it was much softer to touch than he had expected, and that it was a very interesting sensation to run along it. “I feel like it takes more strength to move through it,” this courageous man said, “but I know if I can get through this I can overcome everything.” Words like these gave competitors courage an motivation to get through to the end.
Keith M. Saulsbury (New Zealand) said, “Every time I round a corner, there is something new and amazing to see, I can’t believe it.” And by the time competitors walked through the space-like terrain with stunning natural rock formations in all manners of shapes and sizes – Robyn Metcalfe, who skipped past the finish line with fellow competitor Karin M. G Pederson (Denmark) said, “by that point I saw lots of the animals that they said to look out for, but I also was imagining many different kinds of other animals, that may or may not exist in nature.”
Ryan N. Sandes finished first for the 2nd day in a row, coming in at 11.39.55. Paolo Barghini (Italy) came in at 2nd, he was very emotional as he dedicated today’s stage to his father, who recently passed away. Barghini said that he had never performed so well during his previous races with 4 Deserts, he came in at 12.05.46. 3rd came Dean Karnazes, clocking in at 12.21.39 and Nina Breith came in as the first placing woman with the time of 12.25.54 and placed 4th overall.