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RACE CONCLUDED 6 SEPTNEXT ROVING RACE ECUADOR - JULY 2015
The Women

By Clare Morin

One of the most exciting aspects of Nepal thus far has been the competition in the women’s division. There have been some amazing performances, and even now at the end of Stage 5, it is still not entirely clear who will win.

Stephanie Case is currently leading the field with an overall time of 28:52:50. Case is an experienced endurance athlete, who won RacingThePlanet:  Vietnam in 2008. She’s an upbeat and inspiring character who pulled in one of the most incredible performances on the Long Stage. “The terrain here is good, similar to Vietnam,” she points out. “I am surprised how well I did, especially with the flat sections.”

 

Case has been struggling with a stomach bug since the second day. “Day two was definitely the hardest,” she says. “The scenery helped, the kids lifted me through the day.” But by the third day, she says she was back in the winning mind-set. “My performance exceeded my personal expectation”.

With Ray Zahab overseeing her training plan, Case says she trained a lot in advance of the race. She concentrated on speed work during the week, and long runs and races at the weekend—maxing at 130-kilometers per week.

Case’s toughest competition is Australia’s Samantha Gash (27) who had an overall time of 29:30:40 at the end of Stage 5. Gash is another inspirational character who only started running last year, and went on to become the youngest person to enter the 4 Deserts Club.

When we catch up with her, she admits that stomach issues also affected her, although not as badly as others. “The bug affected me a little but not too badly; hygiene, vitamins, supplements were key.”

The young law graduate says she is thrilled with her performance thus far, and has seriously been enjoying the mixed terrain. “My goal was to come in top five or six, so I am happy to be in the top three and come in the top 10 on the long day.

“I’ve never been a top contender,” she adds. “I normally build up to the long day, but this race I pushed harder everyday and still came in the top 10 on the long day. Day 3 had the most flats so I pushed the running, knowing the other contenders are strong runners.”

Hot on her heels, in third placed female slot is Colorado-based Katrina Follows. This lady put in an amazing performance on Stage 3 when she ascending the steep course at lightning speed. “I chose this race because of the terrain, more hills,” says Follows. “This is the terrain I understand the best. I simply get excited at steep hills. And I’ve spent a lot of time in Nepal–so it’s been exciting to see new parts of this fantastic country.”

The 37-year old explains that after she pulled out of the Gobi March in 2009, her first priority was to finish this race. “I learnt my lesson in the Gobi–so my strategy was to be steady. Take it day by day. And then, of course, push on the hills. But my third place is my motivation to push a little harder.”

They are all set to push hard for the final stage, which promises to be a fascinating end to this epic Roving Race.

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