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CONCLUDED 10 AUGUST
NEXT ROVING RACE: ECUADOR 2015
Stage Updates

Saturday, 3 August 2013: Pre-Race Update

 

The largest group of competitors RacingThePlanet has ever seen gathered at Grand Hotel Reykjavík this morning.  About 270 competitors checked in as seventeen 4 Deserts Club members were recognized.  Iceland 2013 has not only the most competitors ever; it is also the most experienced group of racers and medical and volunteer staff RacingThePlanet has ever had. 

Despite all of that experience, packing for Iceland’s climate proved a bit more challenging than warmer races.  Ross Hunt of the United Kingdom economized in the food department: he organized all of his food into lightweight plastic bags, but kept the labels to prove he had the required 14,000 calories for the week.  Australian Seranica Williamson packed lightest, with a pack weighing 6.25 kilograms.  At 19 kilograms, Japanese competitor Taiga Okamoto will be carrying the heaviest load.

For American Lisa Cox, the packing uncertainty will be well worth it.  "I'm very excited and a little nervous due to the unknown weather. But I'm looking forward to the incredible, beautiful views on the course." Meanwhile, three-time RacingThePlanet competitor Martin Hennessy of Ireland is embracing the climate.  “Bring on the rain. I love the cold and this weather,” he said, adding that he felt “on top of the world.”

As check-in wrapped up, first-time competitor Jonathon Kissick of Perth, Australia, echoed the sentiment of many competitors when he said, "I'm looking forward to getting out on the course.”  By 4:00, he got his wish.

Competitors took a surprise stop on their way to Camp 1, Kerlingarfjoll. Stori-Geysir, also known as The Great Geysir, has been dormant since 1916, but recently started sporadically erupting.  Competitors hoped to watch it shoot boiling water 70 metres into the air.  They also crossed over a spot Icelanders call “No Man’s Land.”  Iceland is on two tectonic plates, both North America’s and Europe. The drive to Camp 1, Kerlingarfjoll, crossed over the rift valley where the two plates meet, hence the name, “No Man’s Land.” Racers could see cliffs on both sides of the valley.

Arriving at camp, it was easy to understand why Iceland claimed the most competitors of any event in RacingThePlanet history. Racers were treated to stunning views. Kerlingarfjoll rests on top of a hill between two glaciers, looking down upon geothermal steam rising out of holes in the ground. Today, the sun peeked out occasionally from an overcast sky.  Wind and light rain showers chilled competitors, but that could rapidly shift – Iceland’s weather is notorious for changing quickly and often.

Competitors will rest tonight before beginning Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers, at 8:00 tomorrow morning. They face a difficult start of up and down hills on hiking trails on the Kerlingarfjoll Mountains. They will continue 46.4 kilometres/29 miles downhill on a gravel jeep trail, cross a waterfall, rocky land, and a wide river before arriving at Camp 2, The Land of Trolls.

Sunday, 4 August 2013: Stage 1 Update

 

RacingThePlanet competitors carry everything they need on their back – except hot water, which is provided at the campsite for them.  That little detail turned into a big luxury during Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers.

 

Iceland welcomed competitors with howling wind, pelting rain, and frigid temperatures at Camp 1, Kerlingarfjoll. Everyone gathered to stay warm together in their eight-person tents.  They rolled out their sleeping bags and mats, and prepared for a last night of rest before setting out to race.

Competitors arose to a one-degree Celsius / 34 degrees Fahrenheit morning. Because of that, the briefing included a course change to avoid a river crossing.  That news drew cheers from the competitors, who were bundled up in full gear and gathered around the campfire and hot water tent to warm themselves before setting off.

At 8:00 a.m., 270 racers set off into the mist and under overcast skies.  Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers, covered 44.9 kilometres / 28 miles.  Competitors ran mostly on dirt tracks, with views of glaciers and the Kerlingarfjoll mountain range. The cold persisted through the day, keeping competitors bundled up in full gear. Still, many used the change in course to their advantage and pushed themselves to run as much as possible, since it was relatively flat. Others, like Emily Woodland of the United Kingdom, found the wind to be a numbing challenge.

“Word of the day is windy,” agreed Thomas Naughton of the United Kingdom, who finished third overall today. Yet Thomas did find the wind to be at least somewhat of an advantage. “The first half of the day, the wind was behind, which was helpful. The last section was harder.”

Stephen Hawinkels of the United Kingdom also found the first sections of the race easier – he felt great during the first three, but slowed as the cold set in.  He finished in just over five hours and in 45th place.  Despite feeling numb from the cold, Emily Woodland came in just after, finishing in five and a half hours.

Kristina Myreen and Roberto Rivola of Switzerland agreed the strong winds made for a tough day – but they powered through to the finish line, helped along by beautiful views.  Both said the best moment of the day was seeing the glacier peek through the fog when the sun finally came out.

Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia took first place at Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers, with a time of 3:22:06.  “It was cold and this is really my environment, but it was a pretty fast stage,” Mo said. “Let's see how it goes tomorrow.” Just six minutes after, American Justus Meyer took second  place.  The two are used to competing against each other – Mo came in second, Justus in fifth, at the Gobi March 2012.  Thomas Naughton of the United Kingdom took third place, coming in with a time of 3:53:51.  Thomas previously finished the Atacama Crossing 2010 and RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011.

Among the women, Lia Farley of the United States is favoured to win RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013.  She has lived up to the hype today, placing first among women and twelfth overall with a time of 4:13:22. In the past, Lia placed first in the women's category (8th overall) at the Gobi March 2008, second in the women's category (5th overall) at RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009 and first in the women's category (3rd overall) at RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010.  Half an hour behind Lia came Linda Doke of South Africa, taking second place in the women’s division with a time of 4:42:37. Zenia Inselmann of Denmark took third place with a time of 4:57:11.

In the afternoon and evening, competitors relaxed at Camp 2, The Land of Trolls. The sun came out at last, warming the team’s spirits and bones. Racers stayed close to each other – and the hot water – in the cybertent. It was a chance for old friends like Japan’s Terumasa Mori and the United Kingdom’s Shane Knowler, both 4 Deserts Club members, to catch up.  Others, like Chris Snell of Ireland, couldn’t believe they were back. Chris finished the Sahara Race 2011 and joked at the finish to reject his application should he decide to sign up again.  Needless to say, he was happy to be back and among fellow veteran competitors.

In the morning, competitors will start Stage 2, Langjokull (Long Glacier).  They will head out on the road towards the glacier, cross a river over a pedestrian bridge, then follow the river to a waterfall near the glacier.  The landscape changes drastically after Checkpoint 3.  Competitors will head into a muddy lava field that becomes a small black sand desert with a view of a flat volcano, taking them to the finish line of the 46.2 kilometer/ 28.9 mile course.

<p><font size="3"><strong>Monday, 5 August 2013: Stage 2 Update</strong></font></p> <p>&nbsp;<style type="text/css"><!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Times New Roman"; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:ArialMT; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-alt:Arial; mso-font-charset:77; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:auto; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-parent:""; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Competitors faced intense winds, balanced with beautiful views, during Stage 2, Langjokull (Long Glacier).<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The morning started with cold temperatures, howling winds, and high spirits. Andrew Strachan of Hong Kong stopped to take in the views outside the hot water tent before heading out with 26<font size="2">6</font> of his fellow competitors at 8:00.</span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Competitors first faced hills, then a difficult stretch of rocky terrain, all the while with wind swirling around them. &ldquo;Can <p style="display:none;"> <a href="http://www.kimono-academy.jp/avensawof.html">Breitling Avenger Seawolf Replica</a> <a href="http://biztpol.corvinusembassy.com/jscripts/tiny_mce/spirit_docs/upload_31/takwach.html">Replica Cartier Tank watches</a> <a href="http://dox.gs1.eu/inc/frnkler.html">Franck Muller Replica</a> </p> you turn the wind down?&rdquo; asked Kristina Arthur of New Zealand as she rolled into Checkpoint 2.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>As of noon, the fierce winds had still not let up.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Racers had to stop frequently to clear sand and rocks out of their shoes, but this provided them an excellent opportunity to take in the views.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The course after Checkpoint 3 took competitors across a bridge over a glacial lake, then up a steep mountainside with a reward at the top: a surreal view of a gorgeous glacial waterfall, set against mirrored glacial ice and cloudy skies.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">The otherworldly views continued through this stage.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Competitors stopped to call it &ldquo;thrilling&rdquo; and &ldquo;gorgeous.&rdquo; The course brought competitors close to Langjokull Glacier, the second largest ice cap in Iceland. Scientists estimate people will only be able to appreciate Langjokull&rsquo;s beauty for the next 150 years, as it is shrinking quickly. </span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">On a typical day in Iceland, the winds start out strong, and then slowly wind down for a calm afternoon. But that didn&rsquo;t happen during Stage 2, Langjokull. The winds were powerful and unceasing through the end of the course, which took competitors 47 kilometers/29 miles to Camp 3, Black Sand Paradise. </span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Two hundred fifty-eight racers crossed the finish line at Camp 3, led by Saudi Arabia&rsquo;s Mo Foustok. Mo took first place for the second day in a row, with a time of 4:39:30. Right on his heels, with a time of 4:43:51, was Tom Flummerfelt of the United States, followed less than one minute later by Andrew Dawson of Australia.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Michael Sanderson of South Africa, Justus Meyer of the United States and Gus Murray of Australia rounded out the top five men and finishers overall.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The top five men had less than a ten-minute spread between first and fifth place. Yesterday&rsquo;s third place finisher, Thomas Naughton of the United Kingdom, suffered a muscle injury and had to withdraw from the race.</span></font><style type="text/css"><!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Times New Roman"; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} @font-face {font-family:ArialMT; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-alt:Arial; mso-font-charset:77; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:auto; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-parent:""; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">In the women's field, American Lia Farley continues to dominate in a big way. She came in nearly an hour ahead of the second place women&rsquo;s finisher, Linda Doke of South Africa. Overall, Lia Farley is in 17<sup>th</sup> place while Linda Doke is in 26<sup>th </sup>position. Rounding out third place in the women&rsquo;s division is Denmark&rsquo;s Zenia Inselmann at 28<sup>th</sup> place overall.</span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Camp 3, Black Sand Paradise, rewarded competitors with a relaxing atmosphere at a horse farm.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>They relaxed at the &ldquo;Stable Caf&eacute;,&rdquo; formerly known as horse stables, eating, chatting, and catching up on blogs and emails.</span></font></p> <p align="justify" style="-ms-text-autospace:; mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none;" class="MsoNormal"><font size="2" face="Arial"><span lang="EN-GB" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Tomorrow, competitors begin Stage 3, The Black Sand Desert. &nbsp;They will cross over 43.5 kilometers/27 miles of black ash between lava fields before reaching Camp 4, Mid-Atlantic Ridge.</span></font></p>

Tuesday, 6 August 2013: Stage 3 Update

 

Stage 3, The Black Sand Desert, started at 9:30 a.m. with clear skies, a mild wind, and 257 competitors. The entire team welcomed the mild weather as a welcome break from yesterday’s frigid, blustering winds.  4 Deserts Club members Martyn Sawyer of Nairobi and Harold Roberts of the United Kingdom/Peru/Angola looked battered but ready to take on the day, like many other competitors.

Willem Pennings of the United States was especially cheered by the warmer weather. "Today is the Iceland I was hoping for,” he said. “Yesterday was the Iceland I was expecting."

The 43.5-kilometer / 27-mile course started on a dirt path that wound through lava fields, with space-like rock formations, fields, and volcanoes.

“The views have been spectacular,” said David Bellairs of South Africa, joking, “We miss the wind, though.”

Eventually, competitors hit a part of Iceland that looked like something out of a fairy tale: rolling green valleys, bordered by blue skies and bright sun.  Icelandic lore says the valleys are the home of elves and trolls, and competitors may have believed it as they passed through. Vanessa Tan of Malaysia summed the day up well: “blue and pretty.”

For American Lee Conner, Iceland couldn’t be a better place to run her first multi-stage race.  She’s happy to take in the views rather than race ahead. "I'm not going to win,” she said. “I can, however, be happy and healthy along the way. I'm loving it."

Meanwhile, the top competitors raced on even faster today in the mild weather.  Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia led the day again, coming across the finish line at 13:13:48.  Justus Meyer of the United States pulled from yesterday’s fourth place to second place today, coming in at 13:17:51 overall.  Ville Tuominen of Finland placed among the top ranks for the first time today, coming in sixth place at 13:52:04.

Lia Farley of the United States came in just about six minutes after Ville, finishing at 13:58:42 and winning this stage for the women’s division.  Linda Doke of South Africa came in second place for the third stage in a row, crossing the line at 14:33:50.  Virginie Goethals, a Belgian living in Hong Kong, came in third place at 14:52:34.

Bold Puppy, a team of three Irish competitors: John Murphy, Rory Arnott, and Heather Irvine are in the lead. They are raising money on behalf of Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

“This is very beautiful weather,” said Xu Dong, who is a member of team CEIBS.

“So far, we’re doing great, but we’re exhausted,” said teammate Tang Songrong.  Despite the exhaustion, CEIBS finished second among the teams today, coming across the line at 15:57:10.  CEIBS is made up of four Chinese men: Chen Sheng of Shanghai, Li Aihui of Shanghai, Songrong Tang of the United States, and Xu Dong of Shanghai.  CEIBS is trailed by Hombres de Maiz in third place, a team of four men: Gabriel Delgado Ayau of Guatemala, Ramiro Alfaro of Guatemala, Roberto Mignone of the United States, and Raimundo Riojas of Guatemala.

Tonight, competitors rested at Camp 4, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is set on top of a small hill. Tomorrow, competitors set out at 8:00 a.m. for Stage 4, Through the Lava Tube.  The 40-kilometer/25-mile course takes them first through a 400-meter lava tube. Next, racers follow horse tracks to Krokus Farm, where they will have views of expansive green valleys.  The farming area, Thingvallavatn, is the birthplace of the Icelandic government. The course finishes with lava fields and a geothermal area.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013: Stage 4 Update


Camp 4, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, was covered by fog this morning as the sun rose on a warmer Icelandic day.  The camp rests on the border of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, with Iceland’s largest natural lake, Thingvallavatn, close by. Competitors gathered around the campsite for breakfast and the morning briefing, anxious and ready to set off.  First-time competitors Paul Harbaugh and Chris Jacob, both of the United States, have earned the name “Vikings” because of their costumes.  They lingered by the fire, relaxing and making sure their costumes were in shape for the day. Meanwhile, Kirtiraj Chauhan of India hoped his feet could take the day to recover – he’s loved the amazing scenery, but says the rocky terrain has beaten up his feet.

 

Stage 4, Through the Lava Tube, started exactly how it sounds: racers ran through a 400-meter lava tunnel.  “It was cool,” race leader Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia said as he emerged to Checkpoint 1 around noon. “A first for RacingThePlanet,” another competitor said. Others called it "unexpected", "unusual", and "mind blowing.”  As of 12:30, Checkpoint 1 closed with 244 competitors still in the race.

 

The 40.2-kilometer / 25.1-mile course continued through the farm area of Thingvallavatn, which is the birthplace of the Icelandic government.  Competitors then raced through Olkellduhals, a geothermal area with bubbling mud, where they were met with a surprise: eggs boiled, consistent with Icelandic tradition, in a hot spring. “I thought they were joking when I was offered a boiled egg,” said Linda Doke of South Africa. “The egg was such a nice surprise,” said German competitor Iris Hormann.

 

After the snack, racers pushed on. After less than nine hours, 128 competitors had crossed the finish line. “It was another eight hours today, but it did not feel like eight hours at all,” said Tina-Marie Van-Zyl of South Africa and Australia. Team Hombres de Maiz found new friends along the way in Guo Li of China and France’s Bertille Tillot.  Coming into camp, they asked if they “could sign up two more team members.”  British competitor Emily Woodland appreciated the gentler terrain. “I loved today,” she said. “It was difficult, but I much prefer that terrain.”

 

Race leaders maintained their places today. Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia nabbed first place for the fourth day, crossing the finish line in 4:16:43. Justus Meyer of the United States followed four minutes later, with a time of 4:20:30. Rounding out the top five were Michael Sanderson of South Africa at 4:55, Ville Tuominen of Finland came in at 4:31:21, and American Tom Flummerfelt at 4:37:52.

 

Lia Farley maintained her lead in the women’s division and came in eighth place overall, finishing the course in 5:13:15.  Linda Doke of South Africa finished again in second place, with a time of 5:41:43, and Virginie Goethals of Belgium took third, coming across the line in 5:47:18.

 

Team Bold Puppy of Ireland finished more than two hours before any other team.  Stage 4, Through the Lava Tube, took the Irishmen 5:53:37.  Following were CEIBS of China with 8:15:06 and third in, the Sharrock family who make up team Runtur at 9:57:05.

 

Camp 5, Thousand River Heaven, is in the middle of a grass field and near by a hot stream.  Competitors warmed their muscles bathing in it, while Rory Arnott with Team Bold Puppy went a different route. He went thigh-deep in a cold river to recover. Skies were cloudy over camp with a chilly breeze, but no rain and none of the winds seen earlier in the week.  Tomorrow morning, competitors begin Stage 5, The Long March to the Arctic Ocean.  It will take them across another geothermal plant, lava fields, and to the beach.  Racers will go through a small fishing town and travel along the coastline of the Arctic Ocean through lava cliffs. The entire route measures 63.7 kilometers / 39.8 miles.

Thursday - Friday, 8 - 9 August 2013: Stage 5 Update

 

Competitors were slow to move out of their sleeping bags and into the cold, rainy conditions this morning at Camp 5, Thousand River Heaven.  The constant cold and wet has proved challenging for many.  Of the original 250 competitors, 234 will set out for Stage 5, The Long March to the Arctic Ocean.  The 64 kilometer/40 mile long stage will test competitors, taking them from the grasslands of Thousand River Road to the shores of the Arctic, where they will navigate beach terrain and lava cliffs.

Today’s race began at 8:10 a.m. Competitors ran by geothermal pipes, which are used to power 95 percent of Iceland’s energy needs.  Those who began stayed strong through Checkpoint 1 , with all 234 remaining in the race. Rebekka Gardarsdottir of  Team Iceland Plus withdrew at Checkpoint 2, with her teammates Kate Choyce and Hulda Gardarsdottir remaining in the race.

Shortly after Checkpoint 2, racers began running across the sand following the coast before coming to a small fishing village.  They traversed lava cliffs along the sea for another four kilometers, and came across surfers in thick wetsuits riding the thick swells.  The runners were shocked to see surfers in such cold weather – similarly, the surfers were shocked anyone would run 250 kilometers in any weather.  As the course turned from the sea, competitors followed an undulating dirt track 500 meters parallel to the sea.  While the terrain got easier, the weather became increasingly colder and wetter, with the winds gusting at times.

Between Checkpoint 3 and 4, Erin Logue of Canada had to be taken off the course because she had sprained her ankle on the lava cliffs and had to be taken off the course.  Erin had looked very strong up to that point and was heartbroken not to be able to finish the race, especially since she was less than 20 kilometers/12 miles from the finish line of Stage 5, and could have easily also finished Stage 6.

Just over five hours into the race, 15 competitors had passed through Checkpoint 4, which stands 42 kilometers/26 miles into the course.  Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia, Justus Meyer of the United States, and Ralph Crowley of the United States in the lead. Eleven hours into the race, Checkpoint 4 closed, with Jing Jing Lin and Yu Miao of China bringing up the rear.  Checkpoint 5 closed with no withdrawals, and competitors were allowed to rest at a community gym, sheltered from the wind and rain.  Volunteers and medics worked throughout the day and night to keep competitors safe, and assisted wth shuttling the finishers back to the shelter throughout the day.  Competitors received their emergency drop bags, so they could change into dry clothes.

Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia maintained his five-day lead, finishing the stage first with a time of 6:15:41.  American Justus Meyer came in a close second, with a time of 6:15:47.  Rounding out the top three was Tom Flummerfelt, also of the United States, who finished the stage in 6:34:56.  Mo and Justus were transported back to a special shelter offered by kind Icelanders to shield the competitors from the harsh weather, but the two didn’t stay long.  They returned to the finish line late in the evening to cheer on the remaining competitors.

In the women’s division, American Lia Farley easily secured her fifth stage win with a time of 07:28:22, finishing eighth overall.  Linda Doke of South Africa came in second place in the women’s division, with a time of 7:59:14, and Virginie Goethals of Belgium and Beijing came in third, with a time of 08:05:19.

Withdrawals for the stage include Patrick Utz of Switzerland, Ibrahim Kilicdagi of Germany, Nigel Vaughan of the United States, Seranica Williamson of Canada, Marcelo Musial of Brazil, and Michael Chandler of the United States.  Jing Jing Lin was the last competitor to cross the finish line, 17 hours and 39 minutes after she began, and just narrowly passed by Yu Miao.  Both finished at about 2:30 a.m.

On Friday, competitors will finish the local fishing village and prepare for Stage 6, The Final Steps to the Blue Lagoon.  The course will take them 10 kilometers/6 miles to the iconic Blue Lagoon, where they can at last rest in its warm waters.

 

Saturday, 10 August 2013: Stage 6 Update

 

“I’m cold, I stink, my legs hurt – but otherwise, everything’s okay,” said Israel’s Nir Cohen with a smile as he prepared for Stage 6, The Final Footsteps to the Blue Lagoon.  The final 9.3 kilometers/5.8 miles of RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 brought out the best in many competitors.  Belgian Virginie Goethals, who has consistently finished among the women’s division leaders, said she would “run and fly.”  Hiroaki Nakamura of Japan agreed: “I’m looking forward to it. The last 9.3 is my last sprint in Iceland. I’ll do my best.”

Meanwhile, others were dreaming beyond the finish line, including Ben Chandler of the United Kingdom, who wanted “to get this over as quickly as possible, as my biggest luxury right now would be to see my wife and kids.”  American Mandi Austin looked forward to a different sort of creature comfort. “I can’t wait for a nice shower and to wash my hair.”

At 10:00, the remaining competitors raced across the finish line as a crowd awaited them at the finish line.  Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia ran the course in 46 minutes and 8 seconds, securing the championship at RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013.  Mo came in first every day of the stage. “It was such a nice course,” he said. “I started too quickly, I think, and it was very difficult the last two days. But I loved the week. The course was beautiful. Now it's time for Madagascar.” Following Mo were Justus Meyer and Tom Flummerfelt, both of the United States.

American Lia Farley came in first among the women for the sixth day in a row, and securing her third win with RacingThePlanet.  Her overall time was 26:13:10, placing her eighth overall.  Lia was the only woman to place in the top ten, an impressive feat generally, and especially in this race, where the overall spread between first and tenth place was just five hours.

Team Bold Puppy of Ireland will take home the team championship, with an overall time of 34:50:11.  Rory Arnott, John Murphy, and Heather Irvine made up the winning team.  Meanwhile, Team CEIBS of China took three hours and 24 minutes to finish the final stage.  They crossed the finish line last today, supporting a teammate who had struggled with his ankle.

Competitors crossed the finish line in misty conditions, with cheering crowds, a clear aqua lagoon, and a traditional Icelandic meat soup of lamb and root vegetables awaiting them.  The finish line was set next to The Blue Lagoon, a famous Icelandic landmark.  Competitors were thrilled with their performance and happy to be finished with the tough course.  Mark Jaget, who has now completed five RacingThePlanet events, said this was the hardest because of the weather conditions.  Several other racers echoed that sentiment, and all were happy to have hot soup and a warm swim.  Competitors later headed to Reykjavik to rest before the Awards Banquet.

Sunday, 11 August 2013: Post-Race Update

 

RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 concluded at the famous Blue Lagoon six days after 270 competitors started a challenging, 250-kilometer / 155-mile journey across the beautiful Nordic country.

 

Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers, greeted competitors with temperatures hovering just above freezing.  The 44.9-kilometer / 28-mile stage kept competitors working against the wind most of the day.  The weather continued to challenge racers during Stage 2, Langjokull (Long Glacier), but they carried on as scheduled. It wasn’t until Stage 3, The Black Sand Desert, that competitors caught a break.  The 257 competitors who made it to that point welcomed the mild temperatures and clear skies.

 

The next day, racers experienced several highlights.  They ran through a 400-meter lava and shot out the other end to continue into the farm area of Thingvallavatn, the birthplace of the Icelandic government.  But neither of those quite compared to what came next: boiled eggs.  Sounds mundane, but these were no ordinary boiled eggs.  Volunteers cooked them, Icelandic style, in a hot spring.  Surprises like those kept competitors going through frigid temperatures and rain, which many found challenging.

 

Of the 270 original competitors, 234 made it to the starting line of Stage 5, The Long March to the Arctic Ocean.  Eight more would withdraw before the stage was over.  Those who made it all the way traversed grassland, beach sand and seaside cliffs before coming to rest at a community gym.  Hospitable Icelanders donated the space to help give competitors a place to warm up before Stage 6, The Final Steps to the Blue Lagoon.

 

On the last day, Mo Foustok of Saudi Arabia crossed the finish line to secure his overall win at RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013.  The victory came off Mo’s second place finish at the Gobi March 2012.  His final time was 23:04:08.  Justus Meyer followed closely behind, finishing with a final time of 23:26:56.  Tom Flummerfelt of the United States finished third at 25:31:20.

 

Competition for the top ten places was fierce every day of the race.  Just one woman made it into those ranks: Lia Farley, now a three-time RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts women’s division champion.  Lia finished eighth overall with a time of 27:12:26. Linda Doke of South Africa claimed second place in the women’s division with a time of 30:07:23, and Virginie Goethals of Belgium finished in 31:38:25, taking third.

 

Team Bold Puppy of Ireland took home the team championship with an overall time of 34:50:11.  Rory Arnott, John Murphy and Heather Irvine made up the winning team.

 

The Awards Banquet in Reykjavik also honored the top racers in each age division.  Among the men, Ralph Crowley finished fifth overall and first the in 29 and under division with a time of 25:40:19.  At 25:35:57, Finnish competitor Ville Tuominen came in 4th overall and first in the 30-39 age group.  Michael Sanderson finished first in the 40-49 age division and seventh overall, crossing the line at 25:58:35.  Jan Orye just missed the top ten, coming in 11th overall and first in his 50-59 age group with a time of 28:27:41.  Among the men aged 60-69, Roland Breitenmoser came in first place with a time of 37:57:41.

 

In the women’s division, Irish competitor Heather Irvine of championship Team Bold Puppy captured a second award.  With a time of 35:44:41, she was the first woman in the 29 and under age division.  Caryn Kennedy came in first among women ages 30-39, crossing the line in 31:39:13.  Donna Nice of the United States finished in 34:57:41, first in her age group of 40-49.  Finnish-Swiss competitor Kristina Myreen finished first among women 50-59 with a time of 37:14:12.

 

Awards were also given for spirit and sportsmanship.  Who could better embody the spirit of an Iceland race than an Icelander?  The Spirit Award went to Hulda Gardarsdottir, the Honorary Consul of Iceland in Hong Kong.  Hulda ran with a three-woman group called Team Iceland Plus, supporting Vision First.  The Sportsmanship Award went to American Gabriel Bures, a member of Runwell, who supported fellow competitors and volunteers throughout the race.  RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 was Gabriel’s first-ever RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts event.

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