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RacingThePlanet’s Australia Challenge – a little bit of extra-curricular fun

RacingThePlanet is renowned for their 4 Deserts challenge – the Atacama Crossing, just finished; the Gobi March on 27th June; The Sahara Race on 3rd October and finally Antarctica on the 17th November, a once every 2 years event … theoretically impossible you would think for the Antarctic to be included in the 4 Deserts Challenge, but technically it is a desert in that it is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on earth with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. It also has the highest average elevation of all the continents.

Antarctica

Location Antarctica.svg
This map uses an orthographic projection, near-polar aspect. The South Pole is near the center, where longitudinal lines converge.

So that’s the 4 Deserts explained. So then, what’s this Australian race all about?

RacingThePlanet actually have two extra-curricular events this year: Australia and Taklamakan. The Australian race begins 25th April (just around the corner) and Taklamakan (China) is on the 20th August. These two events are just there to keep you limbered up for the main events… just kidding of course, they are there as events in their own right.

200 people from more than 30 countries will be competing in this inaugural  Western Australian event. The largest contingent coming from Australia (60) followed by Hong Kong with 35. 45 of the runners are women. The youngest competitor is Christian J. Prendiville, age 20, of Perth, Australia, and the oldest competitor is 69 year old Toshio Ohmori of Japan.

A group of five Australian brothers, The Prendivilles, will be competing, along with
two time RacingThePlanet champion (Vietnam, Namibia), Salvador Calvo Redondo of Spain. Stephanie Case of Canada, the champion of RacingThePlanet: Vietnam, is also competing.

The former overall champion of the 4 Deserts, Francesco Galanzino, of Italy will be competing as will the first person in the world to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, Paul Liebenberg, a South African medical doctor from the Northern Territory.

The host city will be Kununurra – only 3,040 kilometers (1,889 miles) from Perth by road! Competitors will arrive on 22nd April, converge at the Kimberley Grande although they will be posted to hotels around the town. Saturday 24th is check-in and the race is off on Sunday. It finishes 6 days later at El Questro.

El Questro is a million acre wilderness park located on the eastern perimeter of the Kimberley region in far NW Australia. It offers visitors, or, in this case, participants, a diverse landscape of rugged ranges and broad tidal flats, rain forest pockets, gorges and waterfalls that are home to rich animal, fish and bird life. It is about 100 km west of Kununurra.

RacingThePlanet’s events are always extreme, and the Western Australia one is going to be no exception. The Kimberley consists mainly of ancient, steep-sided mountain ranges from which the extreme climate has removed most soil except in the valleys of the Ord and Fitzroy Rivers in the southern part of the region where the soils are either usable cracking clays or lateritic Orthents.  Although none of the mountains reach even 1,000 meters (3,281 feet), there is so much steep land as to make much of the region very difficult to traverse, especially during the wet season when even sealed roads are often flooded.

And the wet season is November to April when the area receives 90% of its rainfall which means that it could be very wet when this race is run!

It is also the hottest part of Australia, with mean maxima almost always above 30 °C (86 °F) even in July and ranging in November before the rains break from 37 °C (99 °F) on the coast to 40 °C (104 °F) in the south around Halls Creek.

This race is going to challenge the most hardy competitor.

As always, RacingThe Planet events aim to raise money for charities within the country that they are eventing in, and in this case all money raised will go to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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