Photos , words Lian van Leeuwen

When Jay Petervary said he was getting warmed up yesterday, he obviously meant it. The leader in the race is keeping a ferocious pace and is expected to arrive at the third checkpoint of this race early this morning (GMT +6). But not before he and his pursuers have crossed a very wild and remote section with little to no resupply on route. The checkpoint itself is in a guesthouse in the village of Chychkan, right on the edge of Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest salt water lake.

While the top 5 has been pretty steady since CP1, positions 5 to 10 are only now taking shape. Alex Jacobson has recently overtaken Jan Kopka who till then was holding a firm 6th place. Rui Rodrigues is currently in 8th position, followed by Wannes Baeten and Laurens van Gucht.

As Lee Craigie is out of the race and recovering from food poisoning at CP2 (as now confirmed), it’s interesting to see how the women’s field will evolve. Runner up and now in the lead is Jenny Tough, who reached CP2 this afternoon. This Tough-as-nails 27-year old Canadian is no stranger to Kyrgyzstan. Two years ago, she ran unsupported through the Tien Shan mountain range from one end of the country to the other (just over 900 kilometers) which only took her an astonishing 25 days. The new runner up is Phillipa Battye who is about 70 km away from the CP2 at the moment.

However, the last 24 hours have again seen a lot of scratched riders. The official number is now up to twenty-five. And behind each of the crossed-out names on the map is a personal and sometimes heartbreaking story. Bad luck, tough decisions, hairy situations; it’s the darker side of this unsupported adventure. But it’s also the attraction to many: to test what you’re made of, to stretch the boundaries of what you think you can achieve. Which is often more than we think. As one of our followers quoted: ‘man built the train to move the heavy load, man built the bike to move the soul.’ Spot on.

© 2018 Silk Road Mountain Race