March 17th - Thursday
Tired of hitch-hiking Ala & Ephram manage to find a con rod. Now they just need a mechanic to fit it for them. We get up early so I can take them with the back-up vehicle to Irkutsk to find one. On the way back we shred a tyre on the trailer and the back-up vehicle. The Russians joke that Ala and Ephraim are cursed. Somehow the nickname A&E has stuck.
While we fix the tyres I liaise with the teams. By this time the bulk of them are 20km ahead with Kraken Molotov 40km ahead. They all opt to travel back with us to celebrate Dave's birthday on our last night out camping.
There is much drinking, singing and dancing. A cake is presented. Dima also presents a hammer, the ongoing joke being that it is the only tool you need on the Ice Run. Dave proceeds to smash up the cake. As it goes a hammer is not an ideal tool to cut a cake.
Many of the runners choose to bivvy under the stars. It's been a bit milder the last couple of days, but it's still -20 and the wind is building.
March 18th - Friday
Unbearably cold this morning, but brilliant sunshine. The outdoor sleepers look a bit shaken up but everyone is pumped for the road home.
Freddy and Michaels bike, Panzer, has ignition switch failiure. The key won’t turn in barrel. Frozen? Worn? We have spares so Carl helps them detach and replace. Problem solved.
All teams are away by 10.30. Not sure anyone bothered actually boiling up water and feeding properly. I guess they’ll show up hungry and thirsty and just gun it to the city.
On the road home we source a mechanic for A&E’s bike and make a plan to get it to a workshop, gather the spare piston and the replacement con rod. It feels great to entertain the possibility that all eight bikes and teams will parade tomorrow. 3567 Will Not Die.
Friday night, Marriott hotel, Irkutsk
All teams safely holed up in a fancy hotel guzzling beers, monopolising the massage lady and comparing war stories. Tomorrow we will have the keys to the city and be paraded by the local police round all the key sites. We will rendezvous after a princely and well deserved lie in and a nutritious (non-dehydrated) breakfast to polish up and preen the girls for their last starring role on IR16. After that best outfits will be pressed and adventure beards combed for the finish party.
The final finish line report will be in on Monday.
We're a bit short of pictures from the 17th & 18th so here are a couple of highlights from the lake the teams have sent in.
You can read all the previous reports, see the tracking map, twitter and instagram over on the tracking page