8th June, 2016
Stage Four – The Lull
The runners and race team woke before dawn this morning to a wholly unwelcome sound. The all-encompassing sound of the kind of heavy rain that only areas such as this have heard. Raindrops like marbles cascading down relentlessly for hours. The Peruvian team and the medics took to the trail in the tiny hours to attempt to keep the course open against the torrential rain. In the end the start was delayed until 7:30am, a minor miracle under the circumstances and a testament to the hard work in all conditions of the race team.
The Lull has it’s name due to it’s tendency to ‘Lull’ runners into a false sense of security. At 30-34Km this seems a short stage. The terrain, however, is challenging in the extreme, even on a good day. On a day like today, where the heavens have opened, it is a quagmire; kilometre after kilometre of cloying mud. The conditions are such that for seemingly endless stretches of time runners feel on the brink of slipping over and there are trails here where a slip could lead you down frighteningly steep slopes. This is where training for this type of event becomes so important. Heavy packs begin to hurt shoulders and the constant adjustments required to keep yourself upright on this ice rink of a running surface tax the small muscles in the feet and hips to the extreme.
Still, this stage holds rewards for those who head out into the jungle. The forest trail for the first 5 kilometres is beautiful and leads the runners to a wide river tucked away in a picturesque valley. Here they find a team of locals ready to ferry them across using a traditional style raft made of just 5 long logs lashed together.
A short slog through the mud then takes the runners out onto a further shore of the same river, much wider this time and requiring another assisted crossing, this time by a long wooden motor boat which deposits the runners onto a bank of black sand covering almost a kilometre under a beautiful mountain backdrop.
Sand works it’s way into shoes though and from this point and on into the muddy jungle feet begin to suffer. Still the forest reveals treasures to those who delve deeper in. Tired though they may be the runners are treated to a tall and beautiful waterfall and another long zipwire over a valley surrounded by cloud shrouded hillsides.
There was still laughter around tonight’s camp as the last of the runners entered the final stages of trail and this is testament to the strength of will of these runners. There are some deeply tired legs out there though and a few may not take to the start of tomorrow’s long stage; a 70km yomp along mountain roads largely free of mud but relentless in length.Tags: Jungle Ultra, Jungle Ultra 2016, Race Report