All competitors finished 29-mile Stage 4: The River that Never Ends, by 11.25 p.m. local time in China on June 20th. However, no results have been posted on the race Web site, so I can’t tell you how Team Stray Dogs GoLite did in Stage 4. But, have patience… remember… they are in the “middle of nowhere” in western China! The amount of material that Racing the Planet is able to get on the Web site is really quite amazing.
According to reports on the race Web site, today’s course was long, relatively flat, and quite varied. Although different from yesterday’s course that included a mountain climb, competitors found it equally tough. Starting at 9:30 a.m., competitors traveled over a rocky river bed for the first stretch, then through a canyon, followed by a leafy section through a village with orchards on both sides. Competitors then went under a bridge, through a dry river in a canyon flanked by dry hills, and ended at the Shepard’s Canyon camp at the base of a side valley.
Many competitors enjoyed the varied course, and the river crossing was welcomed as it gave racers a chance to freshen up their feet. Generally with the better weather and more even terrain, competitors were able to enjoy the scenery a bit more, some taking photos and chatting with the locals. However, today’s heat caught some competitors off guard and getting sufficient hydration was critical, as well as salt and electrolytes. The Stray Dogs have lots of experience in heat, including experience at Badwater, the Marathon des Sables, and the Sahara Race. Marshall has completed Badwater (146 miles to the summit of Whitney) 13 times, won Badwater four times, and has crossed Death Valley 19 times (he will be attempting crossing number 20 this July!). These guys have thousands of miles of racing experience in their feet, and know how to take care of themselves.
Lucy Brooks did incredibly well again together with her running partner and fiancé Stephen Hilton. They both arrived first across the finish line at 2.03 p.m., or in 5 hours 33 minutes. This is the fourth day in a row that Lucy has been the top woman competitor and among the leading group. In fact, Lucy is the first woman to be leading a 4 Deserts event (jointly with Steve). Even more amazing? Three weeks ago she had a scan and was told that she had a stress fracture in her foot and wouldn’t be able to run for six weeks. She said that, “Today the fracture has just started to hurt.” The rest of the leaders included the usual suspects – Henrik Eiberg, Mark Tamminga, and William Laughlin (Ray must be proud!).
Coming in the middle of the pack was Jacqueline Eastridge, arriving at about 6 p.m. She had stopped during the course to help a fellow competitor who was feeling sick with stomach cramps due to too much salt intake. It’s wonderful to hear that competitors are helping each other out, which is typical at events like these, as they draw good people!
The camp at the end of Stage 4 was reported to look like “a beachside holiday resort with bare chests (men only), bare feet, sandy banks, and sun shades.” The ascent through the side valley where the camp is located will be the start of tomorrow’s Stage 5: The Long March of 50 miles. Reportedly, “Tomorrow’s long stage is looming large in the minds of all the runners” but I have a feeling the Stray Dogs are looking forward to it! The longer, and more difficult, the better. And, at 50 miles, with a reported climb of 4,000 feet and a 4-5,000 foot descent, it should be plenty tough for everyone! But, while the Stray Dogs may not be as fast as they used to be (Marsh and Dr. Bob are 55, soon to be 56 just days apart in early July, with Mace being the “baby” at 53), they are consistent and have amazing endurance!
Lucy reported that, “The emails we have had from friends and family have been so touching. Once I read them at camp I felt like I couldn’t let them down. The volunteers have also made a real difference, having them cheer you on rather than throwing water at you really gives you something to look forward to.” So, remember to write to Team Stray Dogs GoLite from the race Web site http://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/.
And, please send a donation for the women and kids – supporting the “real work of peace and justice” – if you haven’t already.
Religious Teachers Filippini
Mission Fund/Marshall Ulrich
455 Western Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
THANKS again for checking in!