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ELF AUTHENTIQUE ADVENTURE - BRAZIL

APRIL 2000

 

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THE TEAM

David Ogden, Aberdeen, Scotland
Primus Lambert, Darlington, England
Trish Lee, San Francisco, USA
Katrina Bacha, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Logistics were
Judy  Yandoh, Pioneer, USA
Andrew Henley, Darlington, England
Irena   Kostromine - Sao Paulo, Brazil

 
 
Sunday 9th April
Fortaleza in Northeast Brazil is a sprawling city and there are stark contrasts between the tower blocks and modern hotels and shopping centers and the outlying slums. Our team stayed in a hotel near the center, rather than the official base at the Marina Park. The English contingent were the first to arrive, having spent some time at the airport awaiting the arrival of the two team members from USA, only to learn that their flight was overbooked and they would be delayed by 24hrs. Later in the evening Karina arrived and we went out to dinner to get to know one another.
 

Monday 10th April. After breakfast we assembled our bikes and cycled to the race headquarters, where we discovered that we should have been taking riding and climbing tests earlier in the morning. No one had given us any prior warning. Henley & Irena who had arrived during the night caught a local bus and we had a brief team conference to decide what to do. The only practical test was to do the sailing, as only two team members were required, so Primus and myself set off on our bikes to the other end of the city. We arrived at the yacht club to discover that the sailing test was to be in catamarans. Primus had no experience of this so went out with an instructor, whilst I took another one out. The wind was not strong, so it was not too hard a test and we were both duly signed off. We returned to the hotel to meet up with Trish and Judy, as time was short we decided to take our riding and climbing tests in the late afternoon, whilst the logistics group checked out the first aid kits. The climbing test was quite simple, just climbing up a water tower then a quick rappel down. Unfortunately by the time we had completed this it was getting dark and too late to carry out the riding tests although we did manage to get our equipment checked. We were about to leave when our 4WD vehicle and driver arrived, unfortunately the vehicle did not have an open back as we expected, so we had to make arrangements to change it out with another one. We returned to the hotel and then set off into town for our first team dinner. Over dinner Trish explained that she had contacted Compaq at the end of last year and they had supplied some leads for possible sponsorship, then just two days before she left they asked her how she had got on. Upon hearing that we had no sponsorship, they managed to round up some $15,000, so the least we could do was to rename the team TEAM COMPAQ.

 Tuesday 11th April 
After a breakfast of local fruit, bread and cheese we set of back to the stables for the riding test, whilst the logistics crew took the 4WD away to be fitted with a rack to carry the Kayaks. We had a phone call from customs to say our project material was being held until we paid the necessary import duty, Karina duly organised this and they delivered our material in the evening. Due to the fact that some of our equipment was also in the project boxes we were unable to complete all the mandatory checks until the Wednesday, so we did a little bit of shopping and spent some time in an internet cafe. Whilst shopping we bumped into a film crew who were covering the race for local television. We also found a place to make new team badges for our clothes.

 Wednesday 12th April 
Wednesday was quite a rushed day as during the morning we had to formally present our project to the local dignitaries and also finish off the compulsory equipment checks. One advantage of presenting our project was to arrange for our boxes containing our project kits to be transported in a large truck, saving us space on our own vehicle. The time seemed to fly past and it did not seem long before we were sitting down to our last dinner in Fortaleza. 

Thursday 13th April 
Logistics awoke early in the morning in order to start packing our 4WD for the trip to the start. Just as well we did not have to carry our project kits as there was no room, in fact it was surprising how much we managed to pack in: - Two double kayaks, 4 bikes, and half a dozen kit boxes, plus rucksacks and bags! The start of this year race was some distance from Fortaleza and coach took competitors to Camocin some 380 Km away. Logistics vehicles and crews made their own way. During the trip we took the opportunity to start examining the maps and race instructions, marking out the route of the course.       We arrived in Camocin in the afternoon and set up temporary camp in the local gymnasium, as night fell the afternoon rains commenced. 

Friday 14th April The Prologue
This year a sailing race was arranged using the local fishing boats, the owner of each vessel steering the boat crewed by each 4-person ground team. The race was held in memory of Paul Vatine, a French sailor who competed last year and was lost at sea last October. The finishing order would determine the starting position for the sea kayak leg. After the storms of the previous night the worst since 1974, there was no wind and even worse the boat that we were due to sail had not arrived! Eventually the organisers allocated us a spare boat, however it was much larger than all the other boats. We set off to paddle to the start line some 3.5 K offshore, eventually picking up a tow from a motor boat. In the end all the boats were towed to the start area and there we anchored to await the wind. The start was delayed until one o clock when a light wind began to blow. As the start time approached I realised that the skipper did not know where the start line was, so we had a frenzied conversation with Karina translating in order to explain that we had to pass between a moored boat and a buoy. Just in time we set up directly on the line and were off. We had a good start, however the boat being so large it was very hard to paddle, on occasions we did manage to catch and surf on a few waves. Due to the lack of wind the course was shortened to one lap, around an island on the river. As we approached the turning point the wind began to increase, when we turned into the wind the boat picked up speed and we began to overtake some of the smaller boats. Each time we tacked we gained a place and although we still need to paddle we were gaining on the leaders, the question was would we catch them before the finishing line. At one time it looked as though we would, however it was not to be and we finished an honorable 9th. It had been a long day on the water and we went to a nearby restaurant for well earned refreshments, during which I had my picture taken with Karina for Marie Claire magazine, as together we were the oldest and youngest in the race. The rest of the day was spent preparing the Sea Kayaks for the race up the river to Ganja. 

Saturday 15th April 
After another night of rain we awoke to commence the race, our support team transported our Kayaks down to the beach, where we checked out the equipment, the organisers agreed that it was not necessary to wear life jackets and fit spray decks but they should be carried. This was just as well as even at 8 AM the temperature was in the 80's. We launched the kayaks into the fast flowing river to take them for a test; this was the first time we had kayaked together. Trish being a very experienced paddler was soon giving me tips to improve my style. Test over we returned to the beach to prepare for the start. We made our goodbyes to the logistics team and sat in our Kayaks on the beach. As the gun sounded our logistics team launched us into the river -- we were off. The first point on the course was a buoy set in mid river and the situation became very confused with 60 kayaks all heading into the first corner. Trish opted to go wide however we still managed to collide with a couple of other boats and then we were heading off up river. The fleet split following each river bank trying to keep out of the current, we chose the right bank, as we had already worked out that there were a couple of small channels which we could follow which would reduce the distance we would have to travel. Initially the paddling proved quite easy although the kayaks were quite large and heavy to paddle and we had to stop a couple of time to adjust the steering. Once clear of Camocin all we could see were the mangroves and it was evident that the river level was much higher than normal as water was also flowing through the mangroves. The temperature rose steadily into the 100's and the paddling became harder as we battled against the floodwater, at each bend in the river we crept up on the inside in the quieter water before sprinting across the river to reach the shelter of the other side. The 38 Kilometres of this leg was supposed to take us 3hours, however at lunchtime the end was nowhere in site. We pulled into the mangroves for a brief rest, to eat and answer calls of nature and then continued on our way. As we travelled up the river the influence of the tide had less effect and the current became stronger, we passed one team that had capsized in the conditions. I began to get cramps in my forearm, and for a time Primus and Karina towed us, however this proved to be quite hazardous as we nearly got entangled in a tree so we decided to continue separately. Towards the end of the paddle we gained a little respite from the current by paddling across flooded fields, this gave us a little time to rest in preparation for the final kilometre which the organisers said was difficult. We eventually spotted the building of Ganja and could see the final obstacles in our path. There was a bend in the river with rocks and fast flowing water on the inside, however the right side of the river looked calmer, so we headed that way taking a wide sweep around the bend. There was one difficult part where some locals were watching from the rocks, so we powered up in the slack water and launched ourselves against the current, for a moment both kayaks were swept sideways before we regained control and stemmed the flood. Once again in calm water we relaxed a little and looked to see where the landing was. There was a bridge over the river and a big weir beyond it with the water thundering over and the landing was just below the bridge on the opposite side. We were directed to cross to the other side, however we decided to continue to paddle in the sheltered water before powering up once again to cross the rough water below the bridge. The kayaks took to this water easily although the paddling was hard and we soon reached the other side to be assisted by our logistics crew. We arrived about 4 PM in 21st place, which meant we had less than an hour to get on with the horse riding before curfew. The transition area was quite crowded and it was difficult to change into riding gear, whilst being filmed and watched by the local people. We also had to grab something to eat and pack supplies for two days of horse riding. Karina had disappeared at this point and there was a bit of panic until we found her in the crush. Gathering together our equipment we walked across the bridge the corral where the horses we waiting. We could pick any one we wished, but to be honest they didnít look up to much. I picked an old mare and soon had it saddled and bridled and we set off with 30 minutes left before the night curfew. The roads of the town by the river were flooded so we had to go slowly, we had lost our map during the kayaking so were trying to follow another team in order to take the right road. As darkness began to fall we looked for a place to stop and the locals directed us to an abandoned house, which had a balcony for shelter and a telephone box! As we were unsaddling our horses, my one broke his halter and nearly ran off, I stopped him by flinging my arms around his neck. One of the locals who had gathered around then used my rope tether to fashion a new halter.  Curious village children and locals gathered around to watch us as we sorted ourselves out for the night ahead. The horses were tethered together and had plenty of greenery to eat. Karina set up a hammock, then one of the locals offered room in her house, so Trish and Karina took up her offer, whilst Primus and my self decided to stay near the horses. I decided to sleep in the hammock, whilst Primus lay down on the horse blankets. The first day was over and we were all looking forward to what we though would be a relaxing riding stage. 

Sunday 16th April 
I woke in the middle of the night to the noise of an animal with a bell on moving about nearby. I got out of my Hammock and went to check our horses. They were ok but had been joined by another horse with a bell on, which had woken me up. Later on I heard and say another horse moving around, as this one did not have a bell on I investigated further and discovered that it was Karina's horse, which had loosened its tether. I woke Primus and together we spent about 20 minutes trying to recapture the horse, every time we approached it turned it back and tried to kick, eventually we managed to get a rope around its neck and tied it up with the others. As dawn broke we set about preparing our horses, securing our saddlebags and dry bags to the saddles at we set off at 0530 for checkpoint 3. Now was the time to get to know our horses. Karina appeared to have picked the best horse which was very lively and liked to lead, Primus's horse need some persuasion to get going, whilst Trish appeared to have drawn the short straw with a horse that appeared to need a lot of hard work. My horse "Fred" seemed to be middle of the road neither to fast or slow. In order to get them to trot you had to make a clicking sound. Not long after we set off Karina swapped horses with Trish who was having trouble keeping up. The track we were on was quite straight and undulating and ahead of us we spotted another team (Team Uruguay), not long after this we picked up a map case lying on the track, it would seem they had dropped it as one of their riders was returning. We had just got ahead of this team when we came to a path junction where we turned right but Team Uruguay went straight on. The question was who was going the right way? This was soon answered when Karina stopped a local on a bicycle, who confirmed we were on the right track. We celebrated this news by urging our horses along, Fred seemed up for this and drew alongside Trish's horse, and the question was what is Brazilian for Canter? I decided to say "Ya Ya" and this appeared to work Fred picked up a fast trot, Primus whipped his horse into a canter and Trish disappeared at high speed, with Karina not far behind. This was exhilarating and for about ten minutes we were all flying along. The fast trot proved to be quite comfortable with little of no bounce and only slightly slower than a canter. At times Fred tried to break into a canter but I held him back. We were making good progress and hardly paused on passing through checkpoint 3. The sun had come up and the temperature began to rise into the 100's C, whenever possible we tried to make the horses drink at streams crossing the paths. However unless we stopped all the horses they had a tendency to skip drinking in order to keep up with one another. Between checkpoint 3 and 4 another team Tchiboula caught up with us and we travelled together. We stopped just short of checkpoint 4 in order to check that we had not reached it ahead of the minimum time, we were just about right, however Tchiboula had to wait in order to avoid a time penalty. The rest area for the horses where we had to stop for two hours was quite spacious, and we unsaddled, fed and watered the horses. Vets came around and checked the horses, both Fred and Primus's horse had developed sores under the saddle, so these were treated with Betadine and before restarting Vaseline and further padding was added. We had an early lunch and refilled our water bottles from a well, treating the water with iodine for protection. By the time we set off again the temperature had risen to 110C, it was hot, although there was a light breeze blowing across the Sertigoe. The horses laboured under the broiling sun, Fred kept plodding along and Karina managed to keep her horse moving, however as the afternoon wore on a problem developed with both Trish's and Primus's mounts, who both just lay down in a stream crossing the path. Karina left me her horse and went back to assist, after some time the tired horses were urged to their feet, but had to led rather than ridden. After a while both Primus and Trish were able to remount and we walked our horses into CP 6 just short of a mountain pass, arriving at 1640 in 15th Place, teams that had been ahead of us having got lost!. 

The CP was quite basic and horses were tethered to large trees, however the ground around was rough with many cut down sapling creating trip hazards in the undergrowth. Having settled the horses we set about setting out a place to sleep, spotting a level patch in front of a parked truck below a tree. We set up Trish's tent as an awning suspended from the tree and tied to some posts which some of the locals drove into the ground for us. We laid some plastic sheeting on the ground to protect us from the mud. Before darkness arrived we set off to collect water from a stream running down the path. the area was very wet, and as a result of the recent rain we were informed that the next checkpoint had been moved a further 12 kilometres away to avoid a dangerous river crossing.  We were not happy with our horses and Karina tried to get a replacement for hers as she felt it would not make it over the mountain pass in the morning. However none were available. Trish managed to get a replacement harness as hers had broken during the afternoon whilst she was trying to get her horse back on its feet. We covered ourselves with a mosquito net and tried to get some sleep.

Monday 17th April 
Once again a disturbed night as I awoke to hear a fellow competitor saying that she had found a horse that had broken loose, somehow I knew it was one of ours, however decided to ignore the problem as she managed to tie it to a nearby tree. Rose about 5AM and checked the horses, yes sure enough Karina's horse had gone AWOL again. I awoke her and then we all prepared for what we hoped would be the final day of riding. We started off walking our horses along the flooded trail towards the mountain pass, shortly thereafter the path began to climb steeply and we were forced to dismount to lead our horses up and over a 500 metre high pass. some parts of the path were green and leafy and at other times we passed through rocky ravines. Eventually we reached the top and the path started to descend, I was considering remounting, but glad I didnít as the decent was rougher than the ascent. On the way down we met a local carrying his bike over his shoulder. The path flattened out for a bit and I remounted, then as we came towards a stream I noticed that that the way ahead was up a steep rocky ravine, before I could dismount Fred engaged four wheel drive and was climbing the rocks out of the stream. There was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the ride. We eventually reached a dirt track and headed to wards the new checkpoint 7 at Puala Pessua where there was a bridge to cross the now flooded Rio Itacolomi. Once again we allowed the horses to stretch their legs the other three cantering and Fred doing his extended trot, sometimes his gait was wrong and it was a bumpy ride so I let him have a gentle canter. We passed by the deserted former checkpoint 7 and eventually reached the new checkpoint at 9.42 still in 15th place, where we had to take in a one and half hour compulsory stop. The horses were fed and watered and we all took the opportunity to swim/cool off in an eddy pool of the fast flowing river. The horse Primus was riding was still giving cause for concern as already it was lying down resting. We ate an early lunch and then set off crossing a wooden bridge, which had been strengthened to allow the horses to use it.  We passed through a number of small villages and at the first one there were children lining the streets handing each competitor a paper flower as they passed by, in celebration both of the race and the 500th birthday of the country.  At another, Karina and I stopped and were invited to have a cup of coffee whilst we waited for Trish and Primus to catch up with us. Later on in the day around 3pm the storm clouds gathered. Soon we were in the midst of a spectacular tropical thunderstorm, the locals must have thought we were insane as we walked our horses down the deserted main street, our clothes soaked to the skin, we did not bother to put on our waterproofs.

Once again as the day drew on our horses slowed and a couple of other teams caught up with and passed us. We had hoped to reach checkpoint 8 before nightfall however this proved impossible and as darkness fell we approached a small village. Two Brazilian teams were already in the village and another team was just behind us. The question was would we find anywhere to accommodate us. Karina approached the owner of the local store, which was the centre point of the village, having a communal TV. The owner was extending his house above the shop and offered each of the teams a bare room. Karina also made arrangement to buy rice, eggs and beans for the team and a local woman agreed to cook for all the teams. The villagers hospitality was overwhelming as the food cost on R$ 2.50 per team (£1) and the rooms were free. We each of us found suitable pickets for our horses and fed and watered them with the help of the locals. Primus's horse was in a very bad state and could not stand and was given corn by the locals. We sorted our equipment out socialised with the locals and then gathered together for a communal meal after which we settled down for the night. 

Tuesday 18th April 
All the teams were up early preparing their horses for the day ahead. Primus's horse was still looking sick, so we planned to leave it at the next checkpoint. As the 5.30 dark zone passed the four teams made their way out of the village. On the way to the checkpoint we had a discussion and decided that it might be quicker for us to abandon all the horses at the checkpoint and to continue on foot. When we arrived the vet inspected them an agreed that neither Trish nor Primus's horses were in good enough condition to continue. A few other teams had already reached similar conclusion to us. We collected together our riding equipment and lightened our packs leaving the excess equipment for the organisers to transport to the next transition area. Travelling along the tracks was quite easy and we managed with the assistance of one of the locals to find a short cut that saved us walking extra kilometres and avoided passing through the town of Araquem. Generally speaking the roads were strait and undulating but it was somewhat disheartening to be overtaken by teams that still had their horses. We eventually reached checkpoint 9 where all teams had to leave their horses as the Rio Coreau was in flood and it was to dangerous to cross with horses.  Never the less the teams still had to swim across. As we approached the crossing Karina stepped on some soft mud and sank up to her thighs, I grabbed her arm and helped pull her free. Karina was first to swim across followed by Trish & Primus, with me taking up the rear. It was just a matter of diving in and swimming as fast as possible hoping to reach the bank before being swept down river. We all safely reached the far side, sorted ourselves out and set off towards CP10 the transition area where we would meet up with Logistics. Once more as the afternoon drew on, the rain clouds gathered and we received our afternoon soaking, the tracks being instantly transformed into mini rivers and lakes, by this time with all competitors walking,  we were in company of four other teams, forging our way through the water, laughing and joking about the conditions. There were some Brazilians walking along the track with us, and it was somewhat amazing to note that they were walking barefoot seemingly ignoring the sharp stones and rocks, what I would give to have feet like that! Eventually over a hill and round a bend we sighted the assistance point at Barra Vermehlo, our spirits we raised with the thoughts of food, meeting our logistics and the official end of the horse riding. Judy, Henley and Irena were waiting on the line to great us and lead us back to the makeshift camp. Unfortunately the rains before our arrival had caused some last minute changes to the planned turnaround. We were however fed and watered, our feet were washed and massaged. Water bottles were refilled, equipment checked over and food provided for the next planned three days of hiking and climbing. We did not have much time to rest as we needed to reach CP12 by midnight to remain in the Adventure category, so we set out once more at 1640, as dusk fell.  The moon was quite bright and we soon passed through the town of Ubauna, on the outskirts of the town whilst searching for the correct track to lead us to CP13 we were joined by another French team. We cross-checked our GPS positions then set off, looking for a further turnoff on the left hand side. Sometime later we made a turn as instructed by the race notes, however Primus was not happy that we were heading along the correct track so both teams returned to the junction to re assess the situation. We all agreed to continue further along the main track, which proved to be the right way. The French team drew ahead and disappeared into the night, a little later on the track divided and we were unsure which one to take so we split up only to find that the tracks joined together a few hundred yards further on. We made our way along a pass between two ranges of hills eventually reach checkpoint 11, a little villa forming part of a scattered village. We wasted no time here and set off once more to find the path up the mountain, which according to the instructions was quite difficult to find. Whilst scouting for the route we met a Brazilian descending down a small ravine, he had been assisting other teams who had been having difficulty finding the correct way up and agreed to guide us in the right direction.  We noticed during the climb a couple of places where but for his guidance we might have taken the wrong route. We climbed higher and higher zigzagging up the hillside and were soon able to look down on the lights of nearby towns and villages, eventually we neared the top and we where walking on large areas of exposed granite. Once this ran out it was difficult to pick up the right track, time was running out and together with two American teams Team Varig and Loch Harris Coldwater we spent a lot of time criss-crossing the mountaintop looking for the right way. Eventually a local Brazilian came once more to aid and we were headed for the CP arriving some thirty minutes before the deadline in 23rd place. The camping area was quite small and there was little room to maneuver, however we found a space and set up a temporary bivouac, under a tree for use by Primus, Trish and myself. Karina in the meantime joined up with one of the Brazilian teams for the night. It was not a very restful night and to make matters worse the rain came on, so that the three of us had to huddle together to keep dry.

Wednesday 19th April 
The team had a luxury of a lie in, as we were one of nine teams who were camped out waiting to go to the climb site each team was dispatched at ten-minute intervals. The site was quite muddy and our shoes soon became caked in mud. When our turn came to depart we were informed that due to the rain all teams would be using the easier of the two climbing routes where a fixed rope had been set up to assist climbing. We would only be required to use one of our two climbing ropes in order to rope ourselves together. We set of in good spirits along a twisting muddy track between trees and bushes that grew steeper as we approached the base of the climb, here it was particularly muddy just like the Philippines as one of the Portuguese team members commented. We spent about an hour queuing at the base of the climb. The rocks were drying out and the organisers re opened the harder route, we declined the opportunity to jump ahead of the other teams, perhaps a wise decision, however the team behind us took up the offer. Soon after this it was our turn and after donning our harness and helmets, securing our trekking poles we were on the climb. It turned out to be an easy scramble, with branches from trees laid in crevices to assist us.

The most difficult part was to avoid tangling the climbing rope that linked us all together. Halfway up we paused to look around at the view of the valley below. The two climbing routes joined together a bit further up and we were pleased to find that we were once more ahead of Loch Harris Coldwater. Traverse lines were set up near the top and we clipped into these for safety, before diving off into the undergrowth towards the rappel site. Once again there were mud and tree roots to avoid as we used a rope to slip down to the start of the rappel. By the time Primus and I arrived Karina was already hooked on and ready to descend the first rappel, followed by Trish. Primus hooked on and I had time to look around and survey the countryside whilst waiting for him to clear the rope. I chatted with the guides and cameramen whilst hanging by my cows tails over the 300 metre drop. The rope was clear so I attached my decender, unhitched my cows tails and was off, in now time at all I was down at the second and longer stage. Once more I waited hanging around until the rope was clear, I would have like to have taken a photograph but could not reach the camera which was in my pack. This longer rappel was quite hard as in order to reduce the friction on the decender you had to lift the weight of the rope with one hand, as I'm quite light it does not take much friction to hold me, so I descended this part quite slowly. Even so the decender got quite hot and when I reached the bottom it burnt my legs. The rappel completed however there was still some distance to descend the mountain and safety ropes had been set to assist progression towards a stream at the bottom. There was no sign of my team-mates and I assumed they had gone ahead to refill their water bottles, as I was the only one who had any water left by the time we reached the top of the climb. The sun was hot and I realised that my feet were quite sore even though I had been taking Ibuprofen. I tried to relieve the stress on them by using the trekking poles to take most of my weight, I lost my balance a couple of times but got up with just a couple of bruises. I walked on eventually entering the shade of some trees by the stream where my team and others we resting. There was a spring in the stream and local girls were refilling everyoneís water bottles and also handing out Mangoes. We rested for a while ate and drank and then set off once more, together with another team. To start walking again was difficult and I took a little time to get up to speed, then we met up with a Team coming back saying there was no way through a fence. We returned to the stream and some of the children offered to show us the way. They took us along a track that led to the door of a house, and I could not believe it as all the teams passed through the house and out another door! We joined a dirt track road at a hamlet called Bom Jesus and set off in the direction of the next rappel which was to be down the Cascada Pocao waterfall in the Ubajara national park. As we walked along the road Primus asked how I was, for a moment I was unable to reply, there were tears in my eyes hidden by my sunglasses, I just shook my head. We stopped and then returned to a nearby house, which doubled as a store. Here we brought soft drinks and sat down to discuss the situation. It was a very emotional time, I had planned and dreamt about this race for the past year and had gathered together a team to take on the best in world, only to become the first victim with foot problems, apart from which I felt strong. I had not considered my feet to be a problem, as I was one of the few not to suffer in the Philippines the previous year. I felt I could perhaps continue to the next checkpoint however it was unlikely I would reach the finish line. I would delay the team by doing this, so I decided the best action would be to withdraw allowing Trish, Karina and Primus to continue together as an incomplete team. Karina went off in search of medical assistance and to see if she could arrange transport to get me back to the logistics group. She evidently made quite a scene as a fellow competitor arrived who had some medical experience, expecting to find me collapsed from exhaustion! He did have a look at my feet, which looked more like swollen white prunes. The decision made I handed over the passbook to Trish, passed over food I was carrying and bade them good luck. The owner of the store then drove me back up the road where I met the organisation who advised me that my logistics team would be along in an hour or so to take me to Tianua, which was the next transition point. I went to a nearby house and was given a rocking chair and sat down to wait. I had some company for a while as Brazilian team Zipnet arrived they looked quite tired. I noted that they still had some climbing equipment that they would no longer need so I offered to carry it back with me and give it to their assistance team. I conversed with the locals by sign language for a bit. As the afternoon drew on the organisation left and I was alone, the hour had long since passed. My hosts noted that I was beginning to doze offered me a hammock, so I went inside and rested. Eventually Judy arrived in one of the organisations support vehicles together with two members of team Accor one of whom their team captain had retired due to heart problems, they had picked him up about a mile up the road. The ride to Tiangua was quite spectacular and it was a pity the rains came on, at one point the road wound its way high up into the mountains, and there was evidence of recent landslides. We reached a point where it looked as though a boulder had crashed into the road minutes earlier, nearly blocking it and our driver just had room to squeeze past. Arriving at the Poussada in Tiangua, the press were soon around like flies and I was interviewed for French TV.  A member of team Terra Force support team took a look at my feet, noting that there appeared to be some form of infection and perhaps I should see a doctor. The organisation invited me to attend the evening press briefing and arranged to send a car to take me to the hotel some 500 metres away, as the doctor was based at the hotel I decided to find him after the briefing. 

The press briefing was quite an informal affair and I stated that I felt my foot problems had developed as a result of needing to walk during the horse riding stages at which time I had been unable to strap my feet. I also expected that many other competitors would also be forced to with draw over the next few days. After the briefing I looked for the doctor only to be told by one of the assistants that he was unavailable and I should return later at 10PM. I was not happy about this however Judy arranged to a Brazilian doctor who was working for the Organisations Logistics to have a look at my feet. She treated numerous blisters and confirmed that I had some kind infection for which she gave me anti biotics'. I asked her what would have been the effect if I had continued and she explained that there was no way in which the damage would heal and my feet would suffer more injury. I was told to keep my feet dry and raised as much as possible. So ended my active participation in the race. 

Continued on Page 2 

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