re-sized Taklamakan Desert

A new 100km self-support extreme marathon on the horizon

Have you ever heard of the Taklamakan Desert in China? AKA: The Sea of Death?

Beautiful, I admit, stunning even and I’m sure photo opportunities for wanna-be photographers will be more than a digital camera can handle. But an ultramarathon? Here? Only if you’re a camel you might think…

And hold on a second… why aka ‘The Sea of Death’? This is the name the desert has earned thanks to its notorious shifting sands and extreme weather.  As if that’s not bad enough, the fear factor isn’t lessened when you read various translations of its name from the local Uyghur language. Some say it means “place of no return”, others “unreturnable” and there’s also “you can get into it, but can never get out”. Enough said. Do you really want to do this race?

Yes of course! What is life if not a challenge.

After all, it’s probably no worse than the Atacama Desert, or the Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert or the Namib for that matter. It should be warmer than the Antartic Desert though. And with that little list of names, whom else could I possibly be talking about but extreme event organisers RacingThePlanet?

Yes, they have a new venue. Taklamakan. And this, the inaugural race, is to be  held in August 2010.

“We wanted to return to China where it all began,” says Mary Gadams, explaining RacingThePlanet’s decision to launch its new series of 100k races in the Taklamakan Desert. “Our vision, which became a reality with the first Gobi March back in 2003, is to bring people from all walks of life to remote and spectacular areas and the Sea of Death is the perfect location for this latest stage in our evolution.”

Why am I talking about it already?

Because registration has just opened and places will be very limited for this inaugural event.

The 100 km non-stop race gives competitors 48 hours to complete it. It’s self supported as usual, but with it technically being non-stop, the load they’ll carry will be much lighter than in the 4 Deserts series. The generous time allowance also means it can be tackled at whatever pace suits, from flat out blast to something gentler. The usual professional medical backup and support is all going to be there too.

The Taklamakan area is something else. Surrounded on three sides by snow covered mountains, it lies within the Tarim Basin in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, north west China. Covering an area of over 300,000 square km, it extends some 900km west to east and varies in altitude from around 500m to just under 2000m.

But a RacingThePlanet event wouldn’t be proper RacingThePlanet event if it didn’t make your heart beat a little faster, long before the running starts, and I think they have achieved that again with this venue.

The race is to be held on 21st August, 2010 and the cost will be US$1,600. Obviously you will have to get yourself there. Remember that entries are going to be limited so if you are interested you had best jump around and complete this online application.

I’d just like to remind you that RacingThePlanet organisers do not do all this merely for the enjoyment of organising a race in some spectacularly beautiful and out-of-the way spot. They also raise money for charities in the area that they are eventing in. I think you should look at the following video as you will then realise how much happiness they are bringing to people who had no chance of surgery without the help of organisations like RacingThePlanet…

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