|By Rob Howard|
The clock is ticking down to the course closure, which is officially at 18.00 tonight, though any teams still close to the finish will be allowed to come in after that as unranked. At this stage accurate information on who is where, and with who, isn’t easy to come by, but as best I can work out there are 9 teams still on the course, including at least one which is a joint ‘unranked’ team.
What is much harder to work out is how many full course teams are still out there. During the night the only all Tasmanian team, ‘The Muppets’ finished the full course and were greeted by a big crowd of enthusiastic local supporters who had turned out at 1.00 in the morning to cheer them home. (I wish I’d kept the local newspaper cutting which read, “Muppets on World Stage”.) To finish this course at all is a creditable achievement and the Muppets ranked 32nd from the 79 starters in the World Championships.
The latest full course team have just come in, that’s the Outward Bound Australia team in 33rd place. They slowed right down in the night on the final trek, having stayed on the coastline rather than the inland path, and Laura Marshall said, “We didn’t really stop, we just slowed as our bodies gave up and we limped along! It was a beautiful night with a full moon, which was great.” After the team had enjoyed their finish their supporters gave them the news that their bike and gear boxes had to be at HQ for 5pm, ready to be transported to Launceston for flights tomorrow so late finishing teams are on a tight schedule!
My own best guess is there may be two more full course teams still going; Sports World Hong Kong (maybe), and Latitude 19, who are very determined to finish fully ranked. Three of the team live in Townsville in North Queensland (which is on latitude 19) and they are XPD fanatics who have raced 5 times before ...without ever finishing a full course. This time they are determined to make it and their motto is ‘destined to be ranked’.
Today most teams are finishing their gear packing, a job made a little more complicated by some disintegrating bike boxes, and any with spare time can join the informal surfing lessons with wine on the beach. Presumably the more wine you have the harder the surfing gets! Then tonight at 18.00 the official prize giving will be held with a gourmet BBQ dinner.