Check in is today for RacingThePlanet’s The Atacama Crossing…

From one extreme to another – yesterday we talked about the up-coming Yak-Attack in Nepal: mountains, snow, freezing waters, etc. And today RacingThePlanet’s first annual event of the year, the Atacama Crossing, begins – desert: the hottest, driest, windiest and coldest place on earth. This race is no walk in the park. It is about as extreme as an event of this kind could possibly be (racingtheplanet)..

RacingThePlanet and Extreme World Challenges have one thing in common. They both seek extreme locations for their very extreme events. And these are not self-congratulatory events… they both raise money for charities of their choice, charities that benefit the country that they are eventing in.

“As anyone who has run to raise money will tell you, a charitable cause is a powerful motivator and can often mean the difference between failing and finishing. And, in a world bursting with special fund-raising events and charitable challenges, the 4 Deserts still ranks as one of the hardest but most rewarding ways in which to make a positive contribution to your community,” says Dave Flanagan.

And this year Chile has suffered a catastrophic earthquake – so big that it has knocked the earth of its habitual axis. That’s quite something to contemplate isn’t it? RacingThePlanet considered the appropriateness of running a race after a cataclysmic event like this and decided that they could hopefully do more good than harm. Raise money for charities that desperately needed the help, and show the bereaved country that it was not bereft of friends.

“The Atacama Crossing 2010 represents an opportunity to support a wonderful country that is currently in mourning. The event will be a tribute to everything that is great about Chile – its people, its astonishing landscapes and its indomitable spirit. And now there’s also the prospect of raising funds to help the disaster relief effort through the link RacingThePlanet has established with the international charity Habitat for Humanity.”

The event  is part of the 4 Deserts races which were named by TIME magazine as #2 on its list of the Top 10 Endurance Competitions in the world. This is the sixth time this particular race has been run. Thirty four countries will be represented with competitors coming from six continents. The youngest competitor  is Sam Sharrock of the United Kingdom who is 18 years old – he will be taking part with his father.  The eldest competitor is Laurence (Laurie) J. Brophy of Wales who will be 78 years old on the start line.

Not only that, but Laurie will, if he completes,  set a new record of being the oldest person to have completed a 4 Deserts event. He currently holds this title from his completion of the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2005 at the age of 72 — this title was then equaled by Jack Denness of the United Kingdom in the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2008.

That’s quite something to be able to boast about…

77% of the competitors are male and 23% are female in this Atacama Crossing  – this is a 4% increase in the number of women compared to the same event in 2009. A record nine competitors from Chile will take part. There are 14 competitors from South America in total, also a record. The largest contingent of competitors are from the United Kingdom (39), followed by the United States (34). Five teams will be competing this year, Team Help for Heroes includes Rob James from Wales who finished second in the Atacama Crossing 2008. There is also an all female team from Chile — Team Andesgear.

Some facts about the Atacama Desert:

  • The Atacama Desert is 15 million years old and 50 times more arid than California’s Death Valley.
  • Some of the oldest mummies found on earth come from the Atacama, dating as far back as 9000 years.
  • The entire race will be held at least 1.6 kilometers / 1 mile above sea level and cover the distance required to make a horizontal crossing of the country of Chile (250 kilometers).
  • The day time temperatures expected are 32 Celsius / 90 Fahrenheit, while nighttime temperatures may drop to 10 degrees Celsius / 50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • The Atacama Desert has the most lunar-like landscape on Earth and is frequently used by NASA to test its Mars rover vehicles.

A word from RacingThePlanet:

RacingThePlanet – The Official Page We are dedicating the Atacama Crossing 2010 the victims of the earthquake in Chile and are raising money for Habitat for Humanity. If you would like to donate, please click the link below and be part of the race as well. 100% of your donation will go to Habitat for Humanity.

Competitors are checking in in La Casa de Don Tomas, San Pedro de Atacama, right this moment,  including administrative, medical and equipment review. They will be departing for Camp 1 this afternoon. The race begins tomorrow – good luck to all, and although I don’t want to sound partisan, very very good luck to Laurie Brophy.

The race ends on 13th March.

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