And so the race goes on. Today saw more riders cross the finish line. In a well fought and hard won 3rd place was Jay Petervary; completing the race in an impressive 8 days, 11 hours and 21 minutes. (For those interested in stats, he was stationary for a total of 52 hours, about 26% of his overall riding time.) This time, incidentally, was 3 hours and 6 minutes longer than his winning effort on last year’s race. Whilst, it’s not really worth comparing the two, with differing courses, conditions and competition; we can’t help but wonder what the first 2 time SRMR finisher made of it? Could the slightly longer time this year be perhaps because of the new final pass, Kok-Airyk? At an elevation of 3,800m it isn’t the highest of the race but the road is heavily damaged by landslides and hasn’t been passable by car in several years. In some sections, rockfall and landslides make riding impossible and walking challenging. As a final hurdle it certainly seems to make slow going for our riders desperate to cross that finish line.

It was on this section earlier today where we saw the gap between Jay Petervary and James Hayden reduce to just 10kms. We dared to think that James might just slip into 3rd (and what a story that would have been!), before realising that this particular 10km has been taking about 3.5hours to negotiate! He didn’t keep us waiting long though and James Hayden arrived at the finish line to take that 4th place spot in a total finishing time of 8 days, 15 hours and 44 minutes. What a truly stunning achievement! When you consider that this time includes one full 24hr period with just 55 minutes of moving time and a total distance ridden clocking up closer to 2,000kms rather than the race ‘standard’ of 1,705kms. What a pace. What a story. What a rider!

Elsewhere in the race, the pace had been forced to slow down somewhat. A violent storm caused the usually smooth gravel descent down the Barskoon Gorge along the Kumtor mining road to become a total mud-fest. Then there’s the mechanicals… You might remember at the start of the race #cap038 Karl Speed had to go all the way back to Bishkek to replace his broken derailleur, well, today the jockey wheel from said derailleur broke into pieces. The last we heard, he was heading to Karokol to try and find a solution, we wait to hear whether he’s found a replacement, bodged a repair, or just decided to go single speed. Either way, we hope that he’ll continue continue to stay true to his name and make a speedy return.

Photographs: @nadiamoro (cover, handshake), @rugilekaldyte (James Hayden), @usmanovdanil (muddy conditions).

© 2018 Silk Road Mountain Race