Teams are descending from their Fisherfield traverse into the village of Kinlochewe to the transition in the village hall, which is packed high with gear and bike boxes and now has a growing number of tents in the adjoining field.
This is because all of the teams have to put up their tent and stay in it for 20 minutes, which might seem a bit bizarre, but it’s to check they have the tents they should do, and also a little psychology as well. The thinking is that teams that are really tired, but might otherwise push on, will be encouraged to sleep for a while longer. They will also be encouraged to stay inside to avoid the midges which are bad today! (That’s because the wind has dropped to nothing!)
On the trek overnight the majority of the short coursed teams, and those now unranked after being bussed forward, were following the short route after their traverse of An Teallach (which was a mandatory CP). There were 6 full course teams, which included Black Diamond of South Africa who had arrived too late to do the canyon, but before the cut-off, so were given the 8 hour penalty but kept their full course status.
Team Endurancelife had raced through the canyon and set off just in time, but overnight switched to the short course route, missing some checkpoints. They are one of the teams who had not slept yet and prepared their bikes before heading for their tent. The second full course team to arrive were Lozere Team2raid and they too slept at transition.
The leaders Columbia Vidaraid have also not slept yet but pushed on to complete the next riding stage before stopping. It will be interesting to see if the French team gain on them on the ride around Applecross after resting. Vidaraid are racing strongly for a scratch team of strangers put together in the last month. (Caroline Bullard hadn’t trained for the race and was injured falling off a horse only a couple of weeks ago.)
The third full course team to arrive were SWECO, and they slept for 2 hours under a rock overhang on the trek. “We had the sleepmonsters,” said Thomas Norlander, “so we had to stop and it was not such a bad place. The weather was pretty good. Tthere was some rain, but it makes no difference to us really.”
When they arrived the team were shown the course changes announced this morning, which took out the Liathach ridge stage completely and also CP23 on the following ride. (The out of bounds on the main A896 road at Annat has also been lifted so teams can ride through there.) The changes were made to bring to race back on track after yesterdays delays.
I asked SWECO if it was good news. Norlander said, “It’s what I expected, but I would have liked to climb the mountain.” Mattias Carling smiled and said, “Now I’m a bit older any shorter course is good news!”
The team were given their messages, sent by supporters via the website, as they checked in and passed them around. Norlander said, “They do help, and it’s nice to hear from the family while we are out here.”