09:00, 1 May 2018, Stage 3
Stage 3, called the “Skeleton Coast Run,” began at 9am. The marathon distance stage of 42 kilometers (26 miles) is the last stage before The Long March. Competitors will experience magnificent colours in a wide open desert pan and vast salt flats. They will then run along the infamous Skeleton Coast with hundreds of seals and see ancient shipwrecks scattered along the coast.
There are both historic and modern reasons for the name “Skeleton Coast.” In ancient time, the shoreline featured whale and seal bones littering the shore from the whaling industry, although in modern times the coast harbours the skeletal remains of the shipwrecks caught by offshore rocks and fog.
Today is a very special day for Sahara Race competitor Julie Guttridge, a Cambridge law graduate from the United Kingdom. Julia’s late grandfather was actually on one of the ships that wrecked along the Skeleton Coast called the “Dunedin Star.” Fortunately, he was rescued. Julia is running in honour of her grandfather. We would also like to honour Julia’s grandfather and dedicate this stage in his honour.
MV Dunedin Star was a UK refrigerated cargo liner. She was built by Cammell Laird and Co in 1935–36 as one of Blue Star Line’s Imperial Star-class ships, designed to ship frozen meat from Australia and New Zealand to the United Kingdom. She served in the Second World War and is distinguished for her role in Operation Halberd to relieve the siege of Malta in September 1941.
Dunedin Star was lost at the end of November 1942 when she ran aground in the South Atlantic on the Skeleton Coast of South West Africa. A complex sea, air and land operation overcame many setbacks and rescued all of her passengers, crew and gunners. An aircraft, a tug and two of the tug’s crew were lost in rescue attempts. It took a month for the last of Dunedin Star’s crew to reach Cape Town, and more than two months for the last of the rescuers to return.
Today’s Stage 3 will provided a continued fight in the overall division as Hong Kong’s Ho Chung Wong and the UK’s Ollie Stoten both battle to overtake Spain’s Vicente Garcia Beneito.
In the women’s division, Canadian Isabelle Sauve holds a good lead, but Sandy Suckling is known for her “never give up spirit” and newcomer Jacqui Bell of Australia could also pull off a stage win.
Perhaps one of the wisest competitors is Marisa Holman of the United States who said in her blog: “The Namib desert both takes from you, but also gives back. The sunsets are beautiful and last night the moon was full and super bright. If I keep investing in Namibia, I know it will reward me.”