The finishers party is now in full swing at Meteora with over 100 riders, many with their families, now enjoying a thoroughly well earned beer sharing tales of their journeys and encounters. There can surely be no better feeling than celebrating the completion of an ultra-endurance race, and with everyone together the atmosphere is sure to be electric.
If you missed the finishers party live broadcast you can view that here, and we recommend you watch it before reading this as here are some spoilers!
Jonathan Rankin (#252b) and James Craven (#252a) were given the "Spirit of the Race" Award and deservedly so, for putting on such a fantastic performance and for James's efforts despite developing a chest infection along the way. We also think that Stephane Ouaja (#14) deserved the award as this race was surely one of the best performances of his life, and for dealing with a huge set back at such a critical time of the race, yet still managing to pull it together and make it to the finish.
The completion rate for this year's race is phenomenally good, Chris White has been producing fantastic stats which show the scratch and finish rates over the years slowly improving. Last year 90 riders made it in in 16 days, and 134 scratched (though last year's circumstances would see a lot more riders scratch), with this year currently reaching 102 finishers and scratches currently at 82. (Note these numbers aren't official, they're just a quick add up).
Here are the riders who made it in since last time writing:
Rodrigue Lombard (#110)
Andreas Hauser (#85)
Mark Charles (#99)
Anisa Aubin (#21)
Luca Somm (#259a)
Oliver Bieri (#259b)
Stuart White (#194)
Hegedus Adrian (#80)
Douglas Thomson (#147)
Joseph Dorsett (#165)
Heath Ryan (#230)
Paul Alderson (#219)
Malte Hager (#36)
Karolina Maciejewska (#63)
Thomas Jacquelinet (#41)
Anton Lindberg (#251a)
Amy Lippe (#251b)
Lieuwe Medema (#3)
Jakub Dvořák (#218)
Hermann Dopfer (#28)
Johanna Jahnke (#255a)
Marion Dziwnik (#255b)
Janus Jensen (#74)
Mark Hugaerts (#89)
Antonio Baños (#111)
Jim Stewart (#245b)
Rachel Batt (#254a)
Mikko Mäkipää (#4)
Fabian Rabe (#151)
Andis Aboltins (#141)
Tom Hudders (#90)
Craig Edwards (#96)
Eric Cupo (#217)
Mehdi Otmann (#169)
Aimone Dal Pozzo (#252b)
Guendalina Dal Pozzo (#252a)
Jean-Yves Couet (#87)
James Jinks (#132)
Benjamin Kraehenmann (#250b)
Andrea-Luca Zarotti (#250a)
René Hinnum (#207)
Sebastien Nolens (#54)
Karim Wiesmann (#254a)
Samuel Weidtmann (#54b)
Douglas Migden (#47)
Daniel Gregory (#58)
David Fairweather (#187)
Torsten Frank (#209)
Cesare Pedrini (#136)
Noel McNamara (#7)
Dario Demarco (#192)
Bastiaan Vlaskamp (#64)
John Lee (#155)
Daniel Nicolas (#258a)
The Lanterne Rouge is awarded to the last rider in, and I think that's counted as 1am, which in GMT is 11pm, so by the time we've published this blog we should know who it is. Our guess is Meg Pugh (#114) because Will Armitage (#108) can't ride 54km in 1 hour surely. This is if our calculations are correct.
There are still 51 riders out on the road, including two riders who are yet to get to CP3 Neil Matthews (#151) and John Cooke (#227), and ten who are on their way to CP4, so the dot-watching doesn't end yet, and we know that Neil Matthews has vowed that he WILL finish!
We wish we could give every single rider some sort of prize - not a trophy mind we're not made of money, just a mars bar, or a solid pat on the back perhaps - but only a few can get a special mention at the finishers race. That's why we like to round up the dot-watchers blog with our own awards ceremony, celebrating those moments that truly make this race unique. So here's to the riders that make this race something worth celebrating, because without them for the past two weeks we'd all be sallow-faced, and bored enough to watch Love Island. Thanks for entertaining us, you make the world a better place.
Most Luxurious Sleep Spot Award
This is not a category we thought we'd be awarding, but riders have really pushed the boat out this year and found themselves some seriously luxurious accommodation. We've not included any hotel rooms as that's just cheating, only outdoor spots:
This may be full of bed bugs, but it looks extremely comfortable and so much better than a hard bench. Third prize to Jurgen Knupe (#46)
Derek Boocock (#113) picks up second prize for finding this sheltered, clean bus stop in Austria that has padded cushions and blankets.
First prize has to go to Andis Aboltins (#141) who not only gets a clean, sheltered bed, but a hat stand too. Essential when bivvying.
Most Unappealing Sleep Spot Award
This was a particularly difficult category to narrow down, so many spots that made us appreciate our beds and wonder what on earth made them decide that was the spot to bed down for the night. We narrowed it down to these three:
Torsten Frank (#209) stole a tramp's bed for the night. Third prize:
Second prize goes to Arnoldas Jakstas (#134) because despite it looking relatively soft, even sheltered, it also looks creepy as hell:
Peter Boynton (#208) is definitely no princess, who could sleep on top of all those weird lumpy things and get a good night's sleep? First prize.
Most Inventive Sleep Spot Award
Andis Aboltins (#141) wins third. There are a number of hazards associated with this spot, i.e. getting wet, rolling out in the middle of the night, being swept down the stream, mosquitoes, plus the rocks looks really uncomfortable. That said, it's probably quite a relaxing and cool spot too, so he gets points for inventiveness.
We've said it before and we'll say it again - what part of this screamed 'bed-time' to Lionel Bobb? But the tarp is clean and dry and sort of flat. Second Prize.
First prize has to go to Jonah Jones (#81) because never once in our life have we thought about sleeping on compost, but perhaps we will now. Most inventive sleep spot winner.
Best Ice-Cream Award
There were a lot of ice-cream pictures shared, and they all sent us into food envy. But these stood out in particular.
Third prize to Mark Lison (#23) for finding an ice-cream many of us haven't seen before but would very much like to see again.
Second prize goes to Doug Thomson (#147) for this little refreshing beauty:
First prize goes to Lars Gotzenberger (#203) for an ice-cream that had a number of us Googling "WHAT IS THIS", because it looks marvellous!
Mark Townsend (#189) gets third prize for this, because even though it's a masterpiece of modern art, we don't think it was intentional and is simply the result of what a tracker pinging looks like when you don't switch it off at night.
Sebastien Nolens (#54) gets a solid second prize for this potato heart that he drew for all the women who have encouraged him in the race:
We missed Bruno Ferraro (#159)'s kitten in our previous blog, but once we saw it, we couldn't unsee it. Look at the ears. Look at the tail. Look at the claws! This is a thing of beauty. First prize.
Route Muppet Award
Known for his route-muppetry, Jonah Jones (#81) didn't improve much this year, but as he's still in the race and nearly at the finish, we're giving him third prize:
Caroline Item's routing was on a different level - she encountered every dead end road, bridge closure and gravel path, sometimes no path at all. Second prize.
First prize has to go to someone who gave us our first bit of route entertainment, going nearly all the way back to the start before he'd even really got going. In the end struggled so much (not just with route, but it was a major contributor) he scratched. First prize goes to Arjan Zwanenburg (#160)
Best Animal Adventure Award
There were a lot of possible entries for this category, such as Paul Ferguson's cat, a number of tiny puppies, tortoises, even giraffes.
Third prize goes to Lars Gotzenberger (#203) for his slug helmet, it was an adventure for the slug too:
We all think a bear encounter would be terrifying, but they do seem to actually look incredibly sweet. Second prize goes to Mikko Makipaa (#4)
Paul Ferguson's (#212) hedgehog story is a highlight of this year's race for us. And we're delighted that he managed to get a picture of the criminal genius before he escaped.
Most Exhausted Face Award
Neil Matthews (#171) does use quite an intense filter on his pictures to add to the moodiness, we love the styling and think it adds to the effect that Neil needs a bloody good night's sleep, and a wash too. Third prize:
Now they are what you call bags under your eyes Sebastien Nolens (#54), we don't think we've seen anything quite like it. Second Prize:
James Jinks (#132) looks bushed. We've seen mug shots look better than this poor soul. First prize.
Best Road Sign Award
Third prize goes to Richard Gate (#161) just for making us snort out our tea at the #tinnedmackerel hashtag:
Clement Venus (#82) wins second place for summing up the TCR in one photo:
There have been many signs showing gradients, so it's been a bit like Top Trumps trying to find the worst, but we think that Bastiaan Viasklamp (#64) should get first prize for not only finding the steepest gradient, but also hairpins, and falling rocks. All 11.7km of it.
Happiest Woman Award
All the pictures of the women seemed to be of them beaming, and it brought a smile to our faces too. So here's the top three:
Third prize to Karolina Maciejewska (#63) because yes, it gets smilier than this!
Second prize to Ede Harrison (#179) and Anisa Aubin (#21) who are bound to be happy with their race results:
Don't you just want to be sat at this table? First prize goes to Erika Rowens (#100) Sheila Woollam (#127) and Beate Weiland (#196)
Special Effort Award
This award goes to the rider that has gone that extra mile, or done something extra special that makes them stand out from the crowd. There can be no-one who deserves this more than Douglas Thomson who found a flip flop on the very first day of riding, and took it with him all the way to the end, in the hope that he would reunite it with it's owner. He thought it belonged to Lee Grieve (#229) but it could have belonged to anyone. Or no one. Still, he carried it, day and night:
This flip flop became Doug's Wilson, hating it sometimes, but also loving it:
But he took it all the way to the finish, and incrediblyit's owner came forward and claimed it, Chris Thomas (#18)!
In a sad twist to the tale, Chris had already thrown the other one away, which makes sense really because who would carry a single flip flop across eleven countries? Doug Thomson that's who. We hope Doug gets to keep it as a memento of the madness that is The Transcontinental Race.
And so it ends, for another year. If you feel the need to watch more dots, there are plenty of rides starting in the next few days, such as the Silk Road Mountain Race starting Saturday. We hope you've enjoyed these blogs as much as we've enjoyed writing them, thank you for all your lovely feedback.
See you next year, maybe. We're off for a lie down now. Goodnight.