It's mid-afternoon as I write this, my heart is thumping and there is a heavy feeling at the pit of my stomach; the good news so far is that Steve has passed checkpoint 3 (37km) and is in around position #100, fantastic. Trouble is the next 12.4km, massive inclines, rocks and dunes; now please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, are the runners expected to cover the whole 81.5km today? I'm looking at the diagram and I can see checkpoints 4, 5 and 6 at at km81.5 there is a 'bivouac' symbol and it's marked 'B5'. According to the 'Carte du parcours' the 4eme etape takes place over 11th and 12th of April, are they sleeping under the stars? I'm gonna check this out carefully before I post - I just came back to this in the edit stage - yup! they do the whole 81.5 clicks in one day, incredible.
Some of the leaders are already at CP4 and at CP3 Steve was around 75-80 minutes behind them, now comes the hard part - watching and waiting for numbers to change on the screen - holy heartbreak... it would appear that he has dropped back to #127. This could be his cumulative position and it's possible that some runners who were ahead of him and having reached CP4 'dragged' themselves up the rankings. Am I making any sense? or just babbling? I love this guy but this is killing me. It looks like my rankings theory is holding up, most of the runners are taking about two hours to get from CP3 to CP4, Steve went through at 14:26, it's now 15:50 so I'll be staring at my screen for another half hour or more. Oh blessed relief, Steve made CP4 at 16:26, just over two hours; another 10.4km and it's CP5, pulease let him be safe. At this moment he is ranked #128 - this is Lionheart territory, come on. Oh dread despair, I just checked the leader board and half a dozen runners at least have made it to CP5 - this is becoming a real rollercoaster. Having said that, there are still people ahead of him in the table who haven't made CP4 and there are a few poor souls who haven't even made CP3 - now I don't know what to think. OK, the board has been 'refreshed' and he's back up to #98. I guess they're gonna go for the whole thing in one day, time will tell. I've been watching this screen on and off for most of the day now and he's made it to CP5 a second short of 18:20, they are going for it in one day. Some of the runners have even completed the entire fourth stage but, and this is strange, there are runners ahead of him in the rankings who haven't even made CP4; they have the webcam set up at the finish line, looks like a late night vigil for me but I'm writing this post as I watch and wait; it's very dark out there - how can they see? It looks like an average time of 90-110 minutes between CP5 and CP6 and some of the runners around Steve are through CP6 and on to the camp, another 10.5km - where is he? Almost 2 hours and still not there, plus there's the last 10.5km - just checking........thank you God! He's in at 20:13, OK slow but safe! 122 of the runners have made it this far, out of over 800, he's not just a hero, he's a superman! Come on mate, the end is just 10 km away. I just took another look at the diagram of the course, it looks like the same kind of time for the last bit of this stage and at the time of writing, only 36 runners have got to bivouac five. I'm gonna go into my garage, have a glass of Metaxa and a smoke and come back here in around 90 minutes and complete this post; hey - I have a life also.
I came back to my pc, I skyped Steve's wife, the beautiful Blain, and while we were talking and I was following the rankings she yells out "Oh my God! I've just seen him go through on the finish line webcam", sure enough, he's done 81.5 km today and is in a good position - I just checked, # 127! My Man! Go Dude! I am so proud! A little drunk, bin smokin... but hey! my boy is in at #127 - in the MdS! I can sleep easy, thank you God.
I'm forgetting, by the time this is posted, the results will be there for everyone to see, at least some of you reading this may get a flavor of what the family have to go through. (note to self:- stop bitching), note to followers, I wrote this this morning.