re-sized oryx

Damon Groeke is only a rookie to RacingThePlanet events

He was impressive at the RacingThePlanet event in China last week, leading the field most of the way and coming in on the final day with an impressive time, but this is not the first time that Damon Groeke’s name has been bandied about in extreme events.

It’s only 3 months ago, March, when he claimed victory in a record time at the 5-day, 220 km Namib Desert Challenge in a time of 19:00:24. This was no mean feat. As Mimi Anderson, 2010 women’s champion of the same race, said: “There is only one word for the Namibian Desert Challenge 2010 – MARVELLOUS! This is without doubt a tough event, competitors had everything thrown at them from mountains, canyons, wading up to our waists in water, climbing the 2nd highest dune in the world and everything else in between all in temperatures of 40 degrees plus!”

The 5 stages of the Namib Challenge range between 28 – 60 kms. The stages are arranged to cover the most spectacular and varied part of the area, the last 11km takes the competitors right into the mighty red dunes through the Dead Vlei and into the world famous Sossusvlei. Sightings of the magnificent oryx are the cherry on the cake here…

Oryx in the Namib Desert, Namibia
Oryx in the Namib

photo courtesy of geoftheref

Prior to Namibia, Goerke’s career has been one of unmitigated challenge and success…

Just before jetting off to Namibia he had tucked the 50km Maroondah Dam trail run under his belt. In 2010 he teamed up with Rob Preston and won the Australian 24hr Rogaining Championships held at Providence, near Adaminaby in the northern part of the Snowy Mountains. Rogaining is like orienteering, but competitors chose their own route and have to return to the finish within a set time frame – in this case 24hrs.

In 2006 he and 42 others lined up at Owers Corner, near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea for the start of the 96 km Kokoda 22-hr Endurance Challenge. This is a popular track with Australian trekkers and is normally completed in 5-10 gruelling days. 19.5 hours after he started, he finally arrived at Kokoda, coming in in 3rd place. He was the first Australian to complete the race in under 24hrs.“This would have to be without doubt the hardest run I have done and doubt there would be any trails in the world which could compare. If you are not going straight up or down, you are pushing through mud, rivers, boulders and tree stumps, its relentless. I can’t wait to go back,” he said at the time.

In 2008 he was in The North Face 100 which was, and always is, staged in the rugged and spectacular Blue Mountains, New South Wales. This 100 km endurance challenge is not your average trail race, witness the following video:

Damon Goerke came 6th in 11hrs 57 mins. Andrew Kromer came 1st in an incredible time of 10hrs 22mins. Goerke ran this race again in May 2011, just weeks before the Gobi March.

Goerke has strengthened his position as a formidable endurance athlete with his latest win at the Gobi March in a time of 26:28:39 – more than an hour faster than the next competitor, 43-yr old Jaume Tolosa Anglada from Spain. The 2009 Sahara Race champion, 51-yr old Italian Paolo Barghini, took third place in an impressive time of 28:39:05.

He is definitely a man to watch…

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