Sitting in the shade near the finish, the shattered teams shared some thoughts on their exhausting desert adventure.
Nathan FA’AVAE (QASR AL SARAB): “That was very hard but not harder than I expected – experience counts for a lot on this kind of stage , especially when your running on a surface that leaves a trace like the sand. A fast team that would normally pull away from the competition on a hard surface just can’t put any distance between the following teams – it’s the same on the snow too.” Nathan’s team were only 10 seconds behind the fastest team on this stage and their top team status is still looking fairly safe.
Fleur PEWSEY (ADCO): “Last night we waited around until we thought it was cool enough to run again and the bright moon made it easier for us to read the dunes. We’re a little worried about VIBRAM SPORT 2000 (FRA) who are not far behind us, especially as we lost a plug and will pick up a 5-minute penalty.” That penalty won’t help them in their struggle to keep crack French unit VIBRAM SPORT 2000 at bay – the time differential between 2nd and 3rd placed teams is now only 14 minutes.
Jon BROWN (SALOMON CRESTED BUTTE): “This is a lot faster than an expedition race but not the craziest thing we ever done. If we can put some time on LUNDHAGS ADVENTURE (SWE) and ADSC/WILSA (FRA) we can probably force our way into the top 5.” In their efforts to take 5th spot, Jon’s team were fastest overall on this desert stage, taking 26h29m31s to complete the demanding 120km trek. They are currently 9 minutes off the coveted 5th spot.
Luc BEGUIN (ADSC/WILSA): “I was having trouble with digesting food and water so it was very tough for me – without nourishment you end up running on your reserves so now I need time to get fit for tomorrow…” ADSC/WILSA managed the 7th time for the trek with 26h33m11s, losing 3 minutes to the team that would take their current 5th position and picking up a 2-minute penalty for incomplete rest time.
Marc PSCHEBIZIN (DOMA): “We decided it was better to run in the daylight so we ran until CP6 where we waited for the other teams to catch us. Orienteering in the desert is really difficult because it is the same everywhere you look…” Just over 50 minutes separates them from 5th spot but SPELEO SALOMON (POL) are only 9 minutes behind on the overall and they could push them back into 8th position with the right strategy.
Tomorrow morning at 07:00, after a recovery day in the campsite, the teams will being the first 33.7km of a two-part MTB race along the track to the QASR AL SARAB hotel in the desert.