The long stage sounds like pure hell, but it's actually got a big silver lining: extra rest. Most of the runners finished late in the night or early in the morning and then had all day Wednesday to relax and do some very basic laundry. It was a chance to finally get some of the pervasive red dust out of clothes and shoes and various bodily cracks and crevices.
Once again the campsite was absolutley gorgeous, set up and ship-shape when we got there and with a truly breathtaking view. I made a panorama of it - it's called Zion National Park - and I'll make sure to include that in the Flickr gallery, so check it out. A few of the runners stopped late at night and slept at the CP before the dunes, and wound up finishing around lunchtime, so even they got a free afternoon and evening out of it.
Just before dinner, Tess (race director extraordinaire) came to me a tipped me off that the racers would be getting s couple of treats. Apparently it's something of a tradition in these self-supported ultras for the raced director to take pity on his/her victims and give out some goodies about midway through the race. In this case, it was a huge cooler full of pop followed by a small Native American Pow-wow presented by members of the local Paiute tribe.
The joy and relief experienced by some racers as they chugged cold pop was tangible, most especially Stephanie Case who regularly drinks 6-7 diet Pepsis per day and was going through some serious withdrawal. I noticed her having another can with her breakfast the next morning and then again after stage 4. Apparently boyfriend Stuart was earning his keep by giving her his allotment. Good man.
By this time we had climbed to some serious elevation, and the nights were becoming progressively colder. In fact, my sleeping bag and luggage was covered with frost when I woke up at CP 6. Some racers who had really gone bare minimum on their sleeping pads and bags were in for some cold nights. Word is that the Italians spent the night spooning in the sleeping bags with their space blankets draped over them. Wish I had photos...
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