Stage 4 of the Atacama Crossing took it's toll on runners with a number having to drop out of the gruelling desert race but Scotland's Joasia Zakrzewski, with her second hand oversized trainers, continues to be the surprise of the event maintaining her lead in the women's race.
Competitors set out at 8 am up a steep incline only to face more hills and slate underfoot similar to Stage 3 at the summit. As competitors neared the town of Tocano, the slate turned to sand and competitors had to descend a large sand dune so steep that they had to zigzag carefully down it. After the dune came a brief respite: a delightful stream to run along with bamboo on both sides.
By Checkpoint 1, several competitors were starting to slow including Peter Clarke of the United Kingdom who was one of two competitors withdrawing from the race before reaching Checkpoint 2. A South Korean competitor suffering from heat stroke was assisted by fellow runners and volunteers to Checkpoint 3 where the medical team withdrew him from the race. Other runners received medical treatment but look set to continue.
One person who has previously been part of the medical team is thirty four year old Dumfries doctor, Jo Zakrzewski who has established an almost insurmountable lead in the women's race. Running to raise cash and awareness for the Marie Curie charity, Jo continues to dominate the women's event and has maintained her position as sixth overall. With a remarkable time of 6:10:01, Jo's total so far is 22:18:46. However with two stages to go second placed Erica Terblanche isn't giving up and the experienced endurance athlete showed her class in Stage 4, posting her best time so far to finish with a total time of 24:13:11. Ireland's Diana Hogan-Murphy remains in third place with 24:31:02.
Other Scot Heroes
Other Scots competing in the adventure include: Ian Anderson in 48th place; Laura Mouat 66th; Angus Mackintosh 71st; Jennifer Davis 82nd; Patrick Gray 86th; Michael McKerrow 90th and Kenneth Reid 115th.
You can send messages of support to the competitors here.
The next challenge is Stage 5- The Long March - it's approximately 75 kilometres and will take some competitors more than a day to complete.