Already 3 stages down in this first MARATHON DES SABLES PERU, and 112.1 km travelled out of 242.3. The midrace will be crossed tomorrow during the long stage, so much feared by the competitors. The course will cross an incredible, very desert terrain that will gradually draw closer to the ocean: indeed, today's Bivouac #3 is located only 30 km away from the Pacific Ocean.
EVENT OF THE DAY:
Between CP1 and CP2, towards K15 of this third stage, competitors might have felt strange waves coming from a dazzlingly white mountain, La Bruja (The Witch). Local legends say that this mountain is a place of power where witches gathered in the past. Luckily, all competitors will have reached the bivouac before nightfall!
GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER AT MDS PERU
This third stage of the MDS PERU immersed the 233 competitors who had completed the two first stages in another world. After a first warmup stage that combined oued and rio, and a second, "trail-oriented" stage, the third one is a very typical MDS stage, with plains, dunes and a lot of sand. Competitor's feedback on this day.
Sean HURLEY (D070-AUS)
"A nice rest today with respect to yesterday, which was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I played professional rugby until last year, then I wanted to set myself a new goal. My friend Thomas, who also lives in Dubai, ran the MDS in 2015 and convinced me to register. He'll pay for that! (laughter) No, actually, I don't regret it. Up to now all is well."
Thomas OTTON (D213-GBR)
"Today, the stage was quite relaxing, but tomorrow I'm expecting to find hell.
For my first time in South America, I've found everything I expected, including magnificent landscapes. I love watching those lines of small ants snaking in front of me in the dunes. But the sand and the wind, that's tough."
Francesco RIGODANZA (D357-ITA)
"It's the first time I cross the Atlantic Ocean, and for my first flight in the desert, I've had a really hot time! I love the landscapes (especially yesterday) – that's why I'm constantly stopping my race to take pictures. As for the dunes, they remind me the powder snow that was covering my Dolomites when I left home to come here."
Leonardo VIVANCO PERICHART (D146-MEX)
I'm exhausted...and I'm quite anxious about the long stage. I'm gonna take it easy, to stay on the safe side."
THE TOP ATHLETES' RACE
For this third stage of the MDS PERU, Rachid EL MORABITY (D001-MAR) used his favourite strategy once again: letting his direct contestants head the pack, controlling their lead, then accelerating towards the end of the stage to pass them and widen the gap... Gediminas GRINIUS (D236-LTU) had to admit the Moroccan's domination: "Rachid is a very tactical runner. He patiently waits during the first part of the stages and at the end, he smashes us." The Lithuanian soldier confesses he's quite tired – and no wonder: "I've just finished my annual break; I haven't run many miles yet and I drank a lot of beer... It's tough! The sand killed me!"
Remigio HUAMAN QUISPE (D003-PER) seemed rather fresh when he arrived in second position, more than two minutes behind Rachid: "I hope to be in good shape tomorrow for the long stage. Physically, I'm feeling OK, but I'm a bit tired."
Erik CLAVERY (D112-FRA) started the stage quite fast before slowing down and finishing in a difficult situation, although he felt "slightly better for this stage; but it was very hot in the dunes, so I was happy to arrive!" Like a few other competitors, Erik seems to have minor hydration issues despite the 10 litres he drinks every day... It is true that the heat and efforts are intense!
Aldo RAMIREZ (D378-PER) did not fulfil the prophecy made yesterday by his fellow countryman Remigio (see our previous PR), but he ran an impressive stage: "I was third almost until the end...but in the home stretch, a hundred metres before the finish line, Gediminas passed me. My initial objective was to reach the Top 10, but now, I'm aiming for the Top 3."
To say the least, the Top 3 will be keenly contested during the three last stages! In the general classification, Rachid further widens the gap (38 min.) with Remigio, who is himself well ahead of his chasers. In that latter group, three competitors – Julien CHORIER (D111-FRA), Aldo RAMIREZ and Erik CLAVERY – are less than 15 minutes behind him, and they are chased by Gediminas, who is trying to reduce his 25-minute gap with Remigio. Aldo and Julien seem in better shape that Erik and Gediminas, but in ultra-running – and even more so in the MDS – nothing is ever certain until the last stride...
In the women's category, Nathalie MAUCLAIR (D114-FRA) arrived before Mélanie ROUSSET (D365-FRA) and Rocío CARRIÓN (D215-PER). The general classification follows the same order, but the gaps are widening: 1 hour 30 between Nathalie and Mélanie, and almost 2 hours between Mélanie and Rocío. The fourth and fifth women, both from Peru, are gradually drawing closer to Rocío, who is suffering more and more during each stage. If the first two places seem quite stable, nothing is certain behind them.
In terms of suffering, Nathalie didn't seem affected by this third stage: "Fantastic, it was beautiful - I enjoyed it a lot! Between CP2 and CP3, we thought the sand was going to be hard, but it was soft... I thought a lot about my boy who loved playing in the plaster when we were building our house, so I said to myself 'Have fun too' and I played in the sandbox... I also thought about my daughter whose birthday was last weekend. And I looked up very often to admire the landscapes and turn all that into positive vibes."
Mélanie, who arrived second, was slightly less wordy at the finish line (something quite understandable, owing to the heat!): "For exclusive trail runners, it was tough – much too flat! You have to switch everything off and stay positive – it's almost like hypnosis!" (laughter)
Tomorrow is the long stage, where everything can change: the leaders should complete the 68.4 km in 6.5-7 hours; the smallest weakness can cause an uncatchable gap...