The Great Amazon River Race 2008
Amy Sharpe recounts the best bits:
Flying out to Peru with different airlines, all 16 girls from the Sisterhood and 20 boys from The Brotherhood/Sisterwood arrived in Lima in time for the British Ambassador’s official “Reception and Press Conference” that we had arranged before heading off into the jungle to a place called Iquitos which would be home for the next few days.
We arrived and checked into the race briefing rendezvous with the other competitors and calmed the nerves with a local beer or four!, We spent the following day in the markets of Iquitos buying up the stores of machetes, saws, nails, hammers and anything else that might look like it could help keep a raft afloat!
The following morning was an early start and a 2 hour drive to the start point of Nauta, a small village with some very helpful locals that kindly came to assist us in the assembling of our rafts. A local Fiesta followed, with an introduction to all the crews competing..we sized up our opponents…and felt confident!
After the fiesta we crossed the river to the to begin “Raft Building”. Now it would appear that this is a skill long forgotten and has nowadays been assigned to ‘corporate team days out’..well we can now all proudly add it to all our CV’s – though we hope it will never ever be relevant…but should there be a next time ‘Terry’ from Finance takes us on a corporate day out and wants a raft built – we can do it!
Having made our ‘gringo’ raft with the balsa logs provided, our crew of four decided to get a second opinion and gave a local a tenner to add the finishing touches…he took it apart and re-built it! Well – you know – always best to get a second opinion!!
We camped out on the beach that night under plastic tents and mosquito nets and awoke the next morning full of excitement! The race started early with some 50-odd rafts taking to and then shortly afterwards, taking on water!
The Amazon river was over half a mile wide but as there was only one safety boat, most of the teams stuck together, with the threat of pirhanas and crocs lurking somewhere under the muddy waters we thought that there was safety in numbers! We took just over 5 hours to cover the first leg of the race – the longest exercise many of us had ever done – but a great achievement!
The second day was much harder and took 8 hours, a cruel bit of ‘briefing’ suggested that day two would have a 45 min finish once ‘you were out of the creek’..not so – it was more like 4 hours…we nearly all found our breaking point and new swear words in our vocabularlies!
The first two days were exhausting and we would have cheerfully finished there but unfortunately, ‘there’ was nowhere and we had another day to go!
The final day was the hardest physically but all the crews had the mental joy of knowing that this was the last effort. The last mile of the race was upstream, against the Amazonm flow and up a tributary to the “Finishing Line”..think of running a marathon then having to stick on a pair of high heels for the sprint to the finish – yes not exactly easy, but you get the picture!!
All the Sisterhood crews finished with a huge grin on their faces..it was a mix of relief, joy and the sheer pleasure of knowing that our bums would only need to sit on soft comfy chairs from now on! The local crowds cheered us all on and a few little tears were shed as the realisation that we had completed a most gruelling race was over..and survived it!
The results were brilliant for all the Sisterhood crews, with Sisterhood 1 finishing in first place for the international crews and only being beaten by the local Peruvian womens team to second place overall in the girls division!
After the race, our Sisterhood teams split into two groups – one going to the coast for some quality “R & R” and another going deeper into Peru to see Machu Pichu, llamas & alpacas, and to chew on coca leaves and eat roast guinea pig (just for research purposes of course…it tastes like a cross between chicken and ham!)
The chorus of “Never again” is already starting to fade and we are now looking at our next adventure…Devizes to Westminster canoe race perhaps, The Yukon in Canada is a possibility, Costa Rica Jungle Adventure Race..all potentials on the list of ‘What Next!’
We are really grateful to all our supporters and sponsors back home – if we hadn’t been raising money for charity, there wouldn’t have been any point in doing it at all..so thank you to everyone that supported us and sponsored us along the way…you are marvellous!
Thanks to all the friends we made along the way and to the banter that kept us all going on the river..see you for the next adventure wherever it is!
The awesome crews were:
Sisterhood 1: Amy Sharpe, Grace Tye, Emma Sayle, Bella Malim – total time taken 19 hours 25 mins
Sisterhood 2: Caroline Searle, Camilla Slater, Laeony Jones, Stevie Tate Bauer – total time taken 20 hours 28 mins
Sisterhood 3: Laura Flegg, Gaby Stevenson, Louisa Yates, Kezia Jones – total time taken 19 hours 39 mins
Sisterhood 4: Susan Glenny, Claire Brady, Suse Judd, Heidi Garbade – total time taken 20 hours 47 mins
Day One: Nauta to Porvenir
Day Two: Porvenir to Tamshiyacu
Day Three: Tamshiyacu to Iquitos