As Richard Parks steps up his preparation for his next world first project, he's taking part in the Jungle Ultra in Peru. A 230km/142 mile race of tough jungle trails, mountain roads and village tracks leading their way down from 10,500ft in the Cloud Forest to Amazon Jungle below.
Richard will face humidity levels of 100% and an average temperature of 30°C in Peru, whilst carrying up to 13kg of kit and supplies. As well as the tracks and trails of the jungle, Richard’s distance also includes over 70 river crossings, requiring zip wires, boats, ladders and simply wading through water to make it to the other side.
The Amazon rainforest
The race is split into 5 stages. All of the competitors will be sleeping in hammocks amongst the natural setting of the rainforest camps along the route. Each stage varies in distance but by far the most demanding is the infamous “Lull”, a relatively short 36km, but a distance that represents what many have described as the toughest stage of any footrace. The longest stage of the race is the final 92km “Long One”, which includes over 50 river crossings, 1,500ft of incline and 20km of thick jungle. All this makes the Jungle Ultra a truly adventurous and challenging event.
Richard has been acclimatising in Peru over the last few days, fully immersed in prehab with Sport Wales physio Nicki Phillips who has been putting Richard through his paces on the steps of Machu Picchu.
Richard, who has been tweeting photos and updates since arriving in Peru stated on Twitter; “Not many people get the chance to have a training session in Machu Picchu #gratitude #stepsarefriends #redforwales”
Today he departs for Cloud Forest Base Camp ready to start race stage 1 which begins tomorrow. Channel 5 continue to film Richard’s preparation for Project X and the crew from Zig Zag productions will also be in Peru filming.
RICHARD’S THOUGHTS AHEAD OF THE RACE
“It’s exciting to have arrived in Peru and exciting to be so close to the start of the Jungle Ultra. I’ve climbed in South America but have never been to Peru and it has been awesome to be here and have the opportunity to see so much of the country through the Jungle Ultra.”
Richard looks out over Machu Picchu
“We have hit the ground running excuse the pun! I am still working hard with my physio Nicki to be in the best shape possible for this and she’s made good use of all the steps in Cusco for me!”
“This is a huge challenge for me personally and it will be another valuable step towards being ready for Project X.”
“Having to be self supported for the 5 days of the race from high altitude in the Andes to the incredibly uncomfortable Amazon jungle means that my mindset is on being as efficient and light as possible with my gear and also protecting and managing my gear against the humidity and wet. This and the mental and emotional hurdles I am going to have to overcome for this event will be another big step for me.”
“Although the Jungle Ultra is a huge event in its own right I don’t want to lose my focus on Project X and the most important thing for me is not just getting through the Jungle Ultra but getting through it healthy and coming out of it the other end healthy and stronger.”
“Over 5/6 days I am going to be carrying all my clothing, food, energy supplements, sleeping bag and my hammock. I’m also carrying a variety of camera rigs and water, which we get given at checkpoints.”
RICHARD’S JUNGLE ULTRA SCHEDULE
Location: Cusco, Peru.
Terrain: Cloud Forest, Amazon Jungle, Mountain Roads and Amazon Village Settlements.
Mid May – 23rd May: Acclimatisation
24th May - Day 1: Arrival in Cusco.
25th May - Day 2: Departure for Cloud Forest Base Camp. This day marks the 2-year anniversary of Richard summiting Mount Everest during his 737 Challenge, on the eve of Everest’s 60th Anniversary, which is on May 29th this year.
26th May - Day 3: Race stage 1: Cloud 9
Start time: 7:30am - Distance 38km
Richard will descend from 9,000ft/2,743m through the cloud forest to approximately 3,500ft/1,057m and checkpoint 1. He will then climb 1,000ft to reach the mountain road where he will descend all the way down in to the Amazon basin via massive vistas, waterfalls and tunnels to Camp 1 overlooking the Amazon. Along the way Richard will pass the first settlement of Andean people in the Amazon.
27th May – Day 4: Race stage 2: Amazonia
Start time: 7:30am – Distance 34km
Richard will get his first taste of the Amazon rainforest, using little known or used trails to climb and descend his way through the thick vegetation.
This forest is home to Jaguars, Monkeys, Tapirs, Parrots, Macaws and Peccary to name but a few.
28th May – Day 5: Race stage 3: Logging
Start time: 6:00am – Distance 30km
Richard will leave camp 2 along a creek for around 4km and cross the river to run along extremely tough logging roads after which this stage has been named. He will then enter primary Amazon rainforest along undulating trails until he reaches camp 3 in the heart of the forest.
29th May – Day 6: Race stage 4: The Lull
Start time: 6:00am – Distance 36km
Richard will leave camp 3 through Manu National Park and it’s primary rainforest, crossing rivers and creeks along the way. The terrain is tough with extreme inclines and declines. This will be his toughest test of the event so far.
30th May – Day 7: Race stage 5: The Long one
Start time: 5:00am – Distance 92km
92km of over 50 river crossings, 1500ft of incline and 20km of thick jungle. There is a cut off camp during this stage for competitor safety, hunting tribes, Jaguar and Black Cayman are just a few of the dangers that lurk in the jungle at night. For those that make it through on time the finish line awaits in the town of Pillcopata, for those that don’t, another night in the heart of the Amazon rainforest stands between them and the end of the race.
31st May – Day 8: Race stage 5 completion or rest & recovery
1st June – Day 9: Depart for Cusco
2nd June – Day 10: Depart Chile
RICH’S KIT LIST
· New Balance 710 trail running shoes.
· Sigvaris performance socks and running shorts.
· I’m taking 5 pairs of Sigvaris recovery and performance socks – 1 for each day and 2 pairs of
Sigvaris shorts so I can always have a dry pair.
· Rab MeCo 120 short sleeved and long sleeved Rab woollen tops – because they are breathable
and quick drying and comfortable next to skin.
· 2 pairs of Rab trousers – Torque Pants plus waterproof Kinetic Pants.
· Rab Demand pull on top and I have got a Rab Alpine pull on top.
· I’m also taking my Rab Generator vest and I am taking a pair of lightweight Rab MeCo gloves.
· Podsacs 30L Rucksack.
· Fuizion freeze dried food, which I used in Antarctica – I have another 5 days of curry
· I am using Torq energy and recovery supplements and Torq gels and bars.
· 5 Firefly recovery aids – 1 for each night.
· Ortlieb waterproof duffles to transport my gear.
· Lightweight Sony waterproof camera.
· If I could I would take Nicki in my rucksack I would! But I can’t!