As we enjoy a leisurely Sunday, 152 competitors from 39 countries set off on the 8th edition of the famed footrace through Xinjiang’s Gobi Desert. 7 days, 250 kms, self-supported. You can find details of the route on the following RacingThePlanet video:
The Gobi March was named one of the top 10 endurance races in the world by TIME magazine in 2010. This is one of the hottest places on the planet – temperatures can vary from between 10°C / 50°F on the early part of the course and 35-45°C / 95-113°F on the later stages. In 2005 and again in 2010 when the event was held in the same region – the temperatures reached 50°C / 122°F on the ubiquitous Stage 5 – known as The Long March.
The average age of the competitors for this event is 36. Approximately 20% of competitors will run the entire course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% will walk the entire course. The fastest completion time is expected to be around 24 hours and the slowest around 70 hours.
The oldest competitor is 67 year-old retired Army Officer Lionel Dyck from South Africa. The Gobi March 2011 is his first 4 Deserts event.
Remember that this event, as with all the RacingThePlanet events, is self-supportive, you carry everything you need apart from a tent which is supplied by event organisers and excess water – you can refill your water bottles at every checkpoint. Otherwise you carry everything you need for the race. With this in mind, it is obviously of prime importance to keep your backup as light as possible – the average will weigh 8-9 kilograms / 20 pounds. The lightest backpack was presented by Nahila Hernandez of Mexico with 6.04 kg, and the heaviest will be carried by James Vain of Team Sandhurst with a weight of 15.75 kg – although Team Sandhurst made a valiant attempt to lessen the load by eating 5 puddings the night before the race began!
By 1.30 p.m. Gobi time (7 hrs ahead of London time) 123 competitors had passed through checkpoint 3, 4 people were DNS – did not start at all. By 4.50pm 37-yr old Damon Goerke from Australia was the first competitor to cross the finish line in just over 4 hours.
Enjoy some of the highlights from Stage 5 and 6 last year:
Hat’s off to you all. Good luck.
photo courtesy of Mark Lehmkuhler