Jungle Ultra 2018 – Stage One

Will said it never rains at Cloud Forest Base Camp. You can imagine what happened next…

5th June, 2018

Firstly, apologies for the delays in getting these blogs out to you.  Between the heavy cloud cover messing up the satellite uplink internet access we rely on out here, and our comms guy coming down with a case of Jungle Fever and incapacitating himself for a day, we’ve had a particularly difficult time when it comes to reaching out to the world.

All runners are alive and well and, thankfully, the weather is improving hour by hour.  The runners might even need their suntan lotion soon.  Anyway, here is the race blog for Stage One…


At approximately 1300hrs on the afternoon before the race, Will from the BTU team announced to a small group of runners that it had never rained at Cloud Forest Base Camp during the race.  You can imagine what followed.

It started as a drizzle, just a slight escalation from the mists which had been blowing up from the valley floor and obstructing the view for the runners.  This didn’t stop us from holding our race briefing outside where Kris eulogized on the rights and wrongs of multi-stage running in the jungle against a backdrop of thick white cloud, rather than the stunning view we’d hoped to treat them to.

As the runners headed back to their hammock stations the drizzle was promoted to a fairly solid shower.  Thankfully, the rain waited for the runners to pack their kit away again before ramping up it’s efforts and leveling up to a deluge.  Hammock building skills were put to the test before the race even began.

The runners had left Cusco in much nicer weather, if rather earlier than they’d have liked, in a convoy of minibusses which wound it’s way through the mountains and into the Manu National Park.  They stopped at our regular refueling station, the market in the small town of Puacartambo, a beautiful cluster of aging colonial Spanish buildings at the bottom of a deep valley.

From here they made the long slow climb along precarious mountain roads which led to Wayqecha Biological Research Lodge, home to Cloud Forest Base Camp.

All runners then passed their kit checks, signed their life away and seemed in high spirits despite their early introduction to rainforest weather.

Still, it remained relentlessly raining throughout the night.  Luckily the runners all seemed to have properly practiced their hammock hanging, though they were pretty cold due to a thick mist which accompanied the rain up to Cloud Forest and enveloped the camp.  The runners were glad to get moving once the sun rose.

The race started with an appearance from the local Brass Band who regularly arrive to regale our runners.  Since last year they’ve learned a few new numbers and the runners were treated to a spirited rendition of Despacito alongside a few of their more traditional tunes.  Though, arguably, the biggest applause came when they inadvertently interrupted Manu National Park official and friend of the race Fausto as he made his pre-race speech by blasting out a few bars of Popeye the Sailorman.

Then it rained again.  And continued for the entire day.  The medics stood dripping wet in their checkpoints but were stalwart in their support of the runners.

Pete Liggins finished the day with a 16-minute cushion between himself and second placed Simon Davies.  Only 2 minutes behind them is Jamie Bromfield.  It’s tight at the front and could be anyone’s week as only 25 minutes separate the current leader from 5th position.

In the women’s race, Carolin Botterill is in the lead.  She should do well, this is Carolin’s 4th time through this course.  No runner knows this course and what it demands of you any better than Carolin.  Just 7 minutes behind her is Barbara Jones who looks strong and relaxed.  20 minutes back from her is Lucie Luft in third.

Thanks to the never-ending drizzle, morale understandably took a bit of a kicking, but this group are pretty indomitable and are looking out for each other.  Those runners who took longer about finishing the stage arrived at camp to find that their new comrades were there waiting to help them set up their hammocks or, in the case of Dan Reeves, that his hammock had been hung for him ready to crawl in and sleep.

Dan, unfortunately, suffered some stomach problems which left him too drained to finish the stage.  The medics took him under their collective wing and he is now back on his feet.  Though effectively out of the race, if he is passed fit by the medics he will be allowed to continue so as not to miss out on the experience.

One character stood out on the start line more than any other and that character was Takashi Okada who took to the line in an outfit fashioned around a Japanese monster reminiscent of Godzilla.  The larger than life athlete marched through the stage arriving at the back of the pack alongside compatriot Hiro Takayama at around 6pm after a monstrously long day.  Pun fully intended.

Yes it was wet but these runners were far from defeated.  For the majority, there was still a steely determination and a joke to be shared.  Though mostly the determination was driven by the thought that if they run far enough they’ll eventually reach somewhere where it isn’t raining.

Peter Liggins
Simon Davies
Jamie Bromfield
Sean Budden
Douglas Jones
Anthony Hyde
Craig Williams
Chris Moore
Sven Franke
Christian Hulme
Nick Hedgeley
Keith Nolan
Paul Harris
Roar Storm
Martin (Storm) Hansen
Simon Dicks
Alex Thomson
Peter Banks
Simon Jones
Lee Quinn
Gordan Robinson
Carolin Botterill
Barbara Jones
Lewis Remsey
Mark Collins
Peter Godbehere
Dietmar Rosenau
Lucie Luft
Tia Beckman
Calvin Barnard
Derrick Khan
Jacqui Burke
Phillip March06:39:00
Pete Ryan
Jon Howard06:39:15
Tyrone Storer07:14:00
Ann Evans
Sarah Draper
Juan Jordan
Mark Entwistle
Brad Carson
Ben North
Daniel North
Yoshinari Ito
Sallyann Smith
Anthony Sheridan08:38:00
Hiro Takayama
Takashi Okada
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