Aquarius 20, 2077, m249
9 hours after Europa’s Pachehra crossed the finish line, the final runners completed Stage 1.
It was a gruelling finish that took a toll, claiming 6 of the 53 runners.
Wei De Cheung was the first to tap out at the 80% mark. Cheung was rated highly after pre-testing, but the course got the better of him and he called in his support vehicle shortly after 18:45.
“I’m disappointed,” Cheung said after returning to the mobile village, “I was too far behind. The idea of tracking through the course in the dark was too daunting for me. I hate to blame my gear, but I it wouldn’t have been safe to make the journey with what I had.”
At 21, Cheung vows to return next year, however, unless he is able to independently finance, he will find it difficult to find sponsors after dropping out so early from this race.
Ben Obalambo was the only runner to drop out due to injury. After what appeared to be a harmless fall, Obalambo called in medic support shortly after complaining of dizziness. He was transported back to Marineris for observation. With Obalambo out, Amrita has only one remaining racer, Rafeeq Afzal, who cut it tight to beat the clock before disqualification.
Last but not least
Afzal was the last to cross the finish line at 24:49, officially completing on day 2 and with barely an hour remaining on the countdown clock. He came in with hands in the air, to applause from the support staff. You would never have known he was in last position.
“This is huge moment for me,” the 20 year old exclaimed, “There were moments I didn’t think my equipment would hold up, but I promised myself I was not going to be eliminated tonight.”
With the Men’s course cleared, Stage 1 was prepped for the Women’s program by ground crews. Three locations were flagged out of safety concerns identified from the Men’s run. The Women’s run begins tomorrow morning at 9:30 until mandatory rest period at 19:30.
For the Men, Stage 2 begins in the afternoon of Saturni.