It’s been snowing and blowing all night. Hidden behind its shelter, our tent has been shaken and covered with a white layer of fresh powder. But when we wake up at 6.30, the sky is blue and the air crispy cold…. but no wind is blowing.
Briefing at 8am confirms that we will race today anyway. Wind forecast is good, even though so far it’s still quiet. And this will also be the last day of the VAKE 2010, arriving tonight in Vadso, since the next day forecast is bad, leaving us no chance to make it to Vardo with the 3rd leg.
At 9am, the horn launches the start of the race. The wind is very low around the camp site, so some competitors have chosen to start walking. We take our chance with the 12.5m Montana5, not really motivated to walk And it appears to be a good choice, since reaching the hills going up to the plateau, we fill the wind getting stronger in our kites, and we are even running second.
But we are a bit too excited, and forget to check on the relief. So we take the most direct route, passing a hill on its left side, down wind. And within a few minutes, we end up standing still, our kite dead on the ground Further on the ridge, we see our concurrents still kiting in a light wind, but slowing fading away…. while we have no choice but start walking.
45 minutes walking later, we are approaching a better altitude, and the wind picks up. Back on track, we are heading in a straight line to the next check point :
This is a spot on a frozen lake, where a few fishermen and scooter drivers have gathered to see us passing by. A 30 min stop is mandatory… and we ear that the first 2 teams are already running an hour ahead of us.
Energy bar eat, water drunk, sledge repacked, we are in the starting blocks for the last part of today’s leg : a 22km line with a nice side wind.
Conditions are perfect: Cold snow, 10m/s wind sideways, we are flying to the finish line, crossing plateaus, canyons and rivers, and slowly gaining on other teams.
The last 4km are the most exciting: overlooking the wide flat area with the final line at its end, we see another team coming to our right. Making a quick choice, we stay on the ridge instead of going straight down, hoping for better wind. And it pays out! We are totally flying toward the finish line, leaving them behind and finally arriving 3rd of today’s leg!
What a race…. and what an amazing landscape we have crossed once again on those plateaus!
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