It gets clearer every day, Stage four (the big one) was scheduled to take place over wednesday and thursday - BTW it's coming up for 1:00pm where I am and noon in Morocco - I have just checked the the results page and some of those guys are still running. As I write, the last in was a Brit #528 called Karl Singleton who posted a time of over 40 hours and is in position #715, to compare, Steve did it in just under 15. Following down the list after Karl there are the 'Abandons' these 60-70 people who have dropped out for 'minor medical' reasons or sheer exhaustion. After these poor souls come the remaining 100 or more listed as 'en cours de classement', now my French isn't too good but I believe this translates as 'ranking in progress' (actually I cheated - was looking at the French language page, they've got it in English too) but what does that mean? I can only assume that they are still making their way to bivouac 5; check! that's why they've got the webcam set up at the finish! At this moment Steve is ranked #215 and this is based on his cumulative time so far, 30H 26' 07. Something else I spotted, there are penalties for all sorts of stuff, wrong kit, wrong amount of food, straying from the proscribed route, taking banned stimulants, not displaying your number properly even for firing off your distress flare without good reason. These transgressions can incur time penalties, fines or even disqualification, I guess that's another reason that the rankings sometimes appear to change arbitrarily at times when there is little or no visible activity.
2:00pm. Speaking of flares, D1 EL MORABITY Rachid the Moroccan current title holder and erstwhile leader had to use his during the first half of stage four yesterday, he retired with some muscle damage to his thigh and was airlifted to hospital - tough break, he looked so fit. Like my boy keeps telling me "Pa, it's all in the preparation, anyone can do this, the biggest obstacle in the whole process is the one between your ears." I may have made some of that last bit up, but it's the kind of stuff that he comes out with all the time. Dontcha just love him?
So you are allowed two days to complete stage four and those runners who are man enough or woman enough (there are actually 26 lady runners in the first 300) try and close that sucker down in one day and spend today resting. I'm kinda hoping that this is the case and that I might hear something from Steve; my guess is that he is either... oops, just realized I'm beginning to repeat myself. Anyway, we'll find out soon enough. I'm going to have a quick look at the MdS website and then I have to be away for a couple of hours. I'll continue this later. (note to self:- this has taken over your life dude!)
5:30pm. OK, just back from the dentist and the full results table has been posted, the last man to complete stage four was Chewee Hoe Lee runner #784 completing the stage in just under 45 hours and he is in position #802, everybody after him has dropped out. I see Mark Clifton made it through today, this is a guy from England who undertook to run with Steve. Looking at the tables it would appear that Steve has hooked up with an Aussie boy #1028 Gary Pickering, they passed through most of the checkpoints within seconds of each other yesterday. This may well change because Gary is in position #155 and at the end of the day as they say, it's every man for himself.
It would appear that I'm not gonna hear from that rascal and since this is a rest day for the runners plus I have to deal with my own pain, I will wrap this up now and post it. If I hear anything later I'll put up another post.
Until the next time then,