The Finish Of The 100 Mile Race
Author : Anne-Marie Dunhill
PhotoCredit : Anne-Marie Dunhill
Coverage of the race continued; at 07:40, carrying on with our original plan, the press walked the short distance from Hotel Del Paine to Hotel Rio Serrano to shoot the start of the 70km race. Temperatures had been sub-zero overnight and the frozen ground crunched noisily under our feet as we trudged along.
We left behind us more of the runners who had been lost on the 100miles race who were stripped down, warming themselves and drying their race clothes in front of the two wood burning stoves in the main room of the Hotel Del Paine. Some had been transported by the organization and others had made their own way on foot.
The organization offered the lost runners the possibility of joining the 100km race that would be starting at 11:00 from Hosteria Balmaceda. The organization decided that runners who chose this option would be transported by the press zodiacs of the race partner, Tourismo 21 de Mayo; transport through the fjords was the quickest option available.
The international press group returned to Hotel Del Paine after photographing the start of the 70km race. We were to board the zodiacs to take us through the fjords to Balmaceda but heavy low lying fog that had suddenly risen from the river delayed our departure.
At 08:53 a runner from the 100miles distance arrived. Lei Zhang from China had been one of the lost runners and had missed the 06:00 time-cut off. There were no members of the checkpoint staff present at this time; the journalists alerted Alejandra Olguin, the woman who had volunteered to accompany the media and manage the social media.
Lei Zhang firmly stated that he wanted to continue the 100miles race and after Alejandra called someone from the organization, he was told that he could continue but risked missing the 15:00 cut-off at Balmaceda. Vincent Gaudin from France lent him a pair of his gloves; Vincent had decided to take the 100km option. Lei Zhang left at 09:15.
Thomas Ernst also refused the 100km option and left Del Paine alone. He’d explained in German to Raymond Weinner of World Trail Runners.com how he had gotten lost due to an organizational error, of the time and money invested since his win in the 2016 race and his opinion of the race director’s organizational capacities.
He said that he was determined to continue the race because he had been unable to do the glacier crossing in the Fortress in 2016 as the race route had been modified due to weather conditions. We also understood that he planned to stop in Perales, after the glacier crossing. His anger had not abated when he left Del Paine.
Another group of four runners did not have the option to continue running because of the amount of time they’d spent lost. Pawel Mat (Poland), Veronica Lobos (Chile), Hery Belo (Chile) and Luis Urbina (Mexico) had circled through the night and according to Veronica Lobos they ended up doing a total of 50km before returning to the race start and asking for help at the hotel Patagonia Camp. Her eloquent post-race Facebook writing in Spanish is an edifying read of survival and working together as a group.
Marlene Flores, Jaime Hume, Ronald Christinic and Vincent Gaudin were transported in the press zodiacs to the start of the 100km race. That distance began as planned around 11:00 from the Hosteria Balmaceda. It was an incredible day for Patagonia; no wind, clear skies and bright sunshine. The impressive Balmaceda glacier served as a backdrop for the race start.
The start of the 100km race had been moved forward to this year, both in the start time and the location, to ensure that no runners would be starting into the most difficult portion of the race, the Fortress, after dark and that no one would be on the glacier at night. This also meant that the 100km tackled the most difficult portion while they were still fresh and alert. It also meant that they began with a climb straight up to the highest point in the race, Paso Byron (1,240m), stopping briefly at the control point Chacabuco 1 to have their race passport signed.
Paso Byron was named by the race director who had traced and opened the route through the Fortress in 2014-2015 after Byron Canto, one of the crew clearing the route. Byron was injured working on the clearing and had almost lost an eye.
Prior to the race, the RD said that the glacier had receded, exposing impressive boulders. Only race photos do these words justice. The organization also had had to re-trace part of the glacier crossing and fix ropes; a moraine was a particularly tricky rope descent. Several runners described the sun melting the glacier, provoking rock falls. Professional mountain guides sternly instructed runners to stay on the marked glacier crossing as there were crevasses on either side.
In Estancia Perales, the finish of the 50km and 70km distances, the media waited for the runners on the longer distances to emerge from the Fortress. At 14:17, the lead man on the 100miles, Piotr Hercog (Poland) came in to Perales. He said that the scenery had been beautiful, that there had been a difficult section through the glacier, that he’d seen no one for the previous ten hours and that he felt good.
A woman waiting for a runner on the 70km distance asked to take a selfie with him, saying “Congratulations!” A member of the Polish media team that was following his race laughed and said, “Don’t congratulate him yet, there’s nothing to congratulate, he hasn’t finished the job!” At 15:19, Emmanuel Acuna (Chile), Piotr’s closest competitor, arrived and transitioned quickly.
Tessa Roorda was the first woman of the 100miles distance to come through and she made the “so-so” hand motion when asked how she was doing. She said that she’d run out of food in the Fortress and was having breathing problems. Tessa added that she was unsure of where her nearest competitors were and continued to push as hard as her breathing would allow; at this point she was unaware of the lost runners situation that had impacted her rivals.
Soon afterwards the media was hustled back to the finish line in Puerto Natales; passing the slowly moving figures of runners on the rocky, treacherous road out of Estancia Perales.
The prize giving ceremony for the 100km and 100miles distances was held in the evening, outside at the finish line overlooking the Ultima Esperanza Sound.
Runners who had done due diligence prior to registering for the race were undoubtedly aware that a runner from Mexico, Arturo H. Martinez Rueda, had died during the 2016 edition of the race. What most were unaware of was that they were wearing an homage to his memory in the form of a thin black line on the official race Buff. In an elegant gesture, second place finisher from Brazil, Wellton Carius crossed the finish line carrying a Mexican flag.
If actions speak louder than words, the security measures in place were solid in the 2017 edition but lack of resources meant that the race staff were spread thinly and they worked tirelessly.
Patagonia is a purely magical place to experience, however any runner considering signing up for the race must be truly prepared for anything, as evidenced by the organizational error in the first kilometer of the race that led to nearly a third of the runners on the 100miles distance losing their way.
But speaking to runners at the finish line, they frequently described near mystical experiences during their race. Perhaps Tito Nazar summed it up when he’d written about a previous extreme run, “We are so blessed that we get to choose how to suffer.”
The top three podium places for all of the distances are listed below, with adventure racers Piotr Hercog and Tessa Roorda taking the top podium place in the 100miles race. Full results can be found on the official race website: http://www.ultrafiord.com/
1 1412 Piotr Hercog 23:16:00 Poland
2 1201 Emmanuel Acuña 25:32:00 Chile
3 1411 Manel Satué 27:55:00 Spain
1 1322 Tessa Roorda 28:33:00 Brazil
2 1505 Junko Kazukawa 37:12:00 Japan
3 1502 Jean Duvall 44:29:00 USA.
1 9321 Luis Esteban Soto Ayamante 14:38:00 Chile
2 9310 Weliton Carius 15:27:00 Brazil
3 9305 Mauricio Correa 15:42:00 Argentina
1 9420 Jacqueline Cárdenas 18:32:00 Chile
2 9304 Cindy Ramirez Brito 19:10:00 Chile
3 9307 Lucina González 20:25:00 Mexico
1 7323 Pere Aurell 8:46:22.0 España
2 7325 Roger Viñas 9:30:26.6 España
3 7207 Genís Zapater 9:43:08:4 España
1 7324 Ragna Debats 9:45:21.9
2 7312 Veronica Bravo 13:14:57.9 Chile
3 7201 Cecile Laurent 15:07:06.7 Francia
1 5336 Fernando Nazario 5:44:54.3 Brasil
2 5324 Julien Gilleron 5:44:54.4 Francia
3 5329 Maicon Cellarius 6:03:37.2 Brasil
1 5309 Stacey Cohen 7:56:35.2
2 5310 Mathilde Closset 8:11:20.1
3 5410 Susana Soferrey 8:19:40.2
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