120 runners from more than 35 countries around the world have put their names down for this extreme endurance race – RacingThePlanet’s Atacama Crossing, scheduled to start on 6th March.
The Atacama Desert is the first of RacingThePlanet’s events this year and is, as you might remember, the driest place on earth – 50 times more arid than California’s Death Valley. So dry, in fact, that in some places rainfall has NEVER been recorded. This will be the 7th time the race has been run here.
A little known and competely arbitary fact is that some of the oldest mummies found on earth come from the Atacama Desert, dating as far back as 9000 years… I wonder what they would think of today’s intrepid souls who run, sweat and scramble across this hostile 15 million year old desert for fun!
The Atacama Crossing is a remarkable race which has become a classic event in the ultra-distance diary. The entire race will be held at at least 1.6 kilometers / 1 mile above sea level and will cover in total 250 kilometers / 150 miles. The highest altitude on the course is 3,000m/10,000ft at Camp 1 and competitors are required to pass through up to 30 checkpoints throughout the seven-day event. Daytime temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius /104 degrees Fahrenheit, while night-time temperatures may drop to 5 degrees Celsius / 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another interesting fact is that the average age of RacingThePlanet competitors is about 38 years. The oldest competitor in this particular race will be 61 year old Kumi Murakami, a swimming instructor from Japan.
Richard Batstone – 20, running with Chris Laws and Alan Braithwaite as U.K. Team HSX, is one of the youngest runners. They will be raising money for Cancer Research. Belgium’s Katrien Vandendriessche is also 20.
If you can spare me 10 more minutes please watch the highlights of last year’s race…
RacingThePlanet vow to leave the pristine environment as they found it and fortunately the competitors are very conscious of this matter and make this task as easy as possible. Catering to the needs of almost 200 people in the Atacama Desert for a week and making sure that no trace of their presence is left behind is no mean feat – but one that is treated as of paramount importance.
Montane are the official clothing partner for the Atacama Crossing event this year. Created over 18 years ago by a passionate young engineer who, inbetween venturing out to explore the remote and wild places of this earth, began sewing garments for friends and fellow mountain enthusiasts, the company prides itself on the high quality lightweight and breathable clothing that they produce for mountain climbing, running and biking. “The focus was and always will be on pushing the limits of garment design in order that those who are attracted to wild places can raise the limits of endurance and adventure in the mountains,” they say – an ethos that suits RacingThePlanet organisers perfectly.
The best of luck to all competing this year…