Night Stop at The Pool
With teams running well ahead of the predicted fastest times the leaders arrived at CP4, at the swimming pool in the town of Cilaos before midnight. First in were 400 team Naturex looking strong and composed, though the composure was lost when the race referees asked to see the strobe light which is part of the mandatory equipment. They couldn’t find it, and all the team unpacked and were starting to look worried before it was finally found tucked away in a sealed package. Then it was smiles of relief all around.
They had opened up a small lead of 1 hour 15 minutes over their rivals, but chose to sleep in the pool changing rooms where cots had been set up for teams and said it would be for 2 hours, but it was less than one before they were setting off again.
Maybe they changed their minds as the CP got very busy between midnight and one PM. DSN74 Hoka (France) were second in and they very rapidly found their strobe and disappeared into the building to sleep barely breaking step, but the next group of teams that came in all chose to continue.
First of these was the Russian team, Red Fox Adventure Team, and Viktoria Zarina limped in after the rest of the team before lying flat on the ground for a while. The others had been taking some of the weight off of her pack, but there was no attention given to her feet or suggestion they might stop.
The team have pulled in Latvian racer Andris Ansabergs for this race. He was the man in charge during their stop, giving a loud stream of instructions and questions for his team mates and speaking in English as he speaks no Russian. (He said he understands more.) He was full of energy and excitement and said. “What’s the matter with these estimated times. Now we have far too much food!” He left quite a bit behind along with spare batteries and encouraged his team to do the same.
Asked about their plan he said, “We are going as fast as possible to the pack raft, maybe we can even do it tomorrow!” He saw that other teams were sleeping but wasn’t really interested and the team left not knowing they were now leading.
Haglofs Silva followed with Aaron Prince soon shouting the team instructions, though the other 3 were all very quietly and efficiently getting on with what needed doing anyway! They didn’t stop as long as the Russians and as they were leaving as Swedish Armed Forces arrived. SAFAT all stopped to attend to their feet and change socks, but were rushing as they wanted to catch Haglofs Silva. They have two new team members and there was some tension in this team with tetchy exchanges and the 3 Swedes heading off and leaving Sam Clarke of New Zealand to follow with a half packed bag.
He had seen his compatriots in Team Avaya arrive when the CP was at its busiest and they too moved on quickly with no thought of stopping this early in the race. Chris Forne told a TV crew they were “just taking it steady and trying not to make any mistakes”. Asked what he meant he added, “Not getting lost or going too fast .” 400 Team Naturex were up and ready to go around the same time so there is an intense race going on among the lead teams through this first night.
Team FMR of France were next to arrive but they didn’t have a 360 degree strobe and received a 2 hour penalty. The Referees are instructing teams to take penalty time straight away and as there are comfortable beds here FMR are lucky they can take two hours sleep as a penalty.
Columbia arrived and said they wanted to sleep. Monica Aguillera just said, “It was a hard day and Angel Garcia wasted no time working on his feet. Nick Gracie said the team took a poor route choice and lost a lot of places but added, “The scenery been absolutely amazing.”
The North Face Adventure Team followed and then Sanlam Painted Wolf, Estonian ACE Adventure and Team Yealands and they all stopped so the beds at the CP were now all taken with sleeping teams, recovering a little from the hard days trekking in the Mafate crater.