First off in RacingThePlanet’s annual 4 Deserts series is the Atacama Crossing which starts on the 4th March. 7 days, 250 kms, self-supported ultra-marathon in Chili. The desert, as you may well know, receives absolutely no annual rainfall and is therefore the driest desert in the world. In some parts the desolation is so complete that no matter how hard you search for life, it isn’t there. Tests similar to those performed in Mars, failed to detect any signs of life; the place is sterile.
The Atacama is an area of outstanding beauty. So strange and alien is it that in recent years, NASA has been testing instruments and vehicles for Mars missions in the desert’s dry and rugged landscapes! The race is run in stages through this barren and desolate area with checkpoints spaced strategically at approximately 10 km intervals, with the final checkpoint of the day being the finish line and campsite. Competitors are supplied with 1.5 litres of water at each checkpoint as well as shade and a place to rest.
RacingThePlanet’s Atacama Crossing starts 4th March
RacingThePlanet is a sleekly managed machine with years of expertise and experience behind them and their events run like a finely tuned organ. Their experience means that no detail is too small to be examined and re-examined, and with their desert experience they think of everything – even down to the Bedouin style tents which they have had made especially in Egypt. The tents are ideal for the Atacama because the design includes windows and venting that can capture breezes during the heat of the day but that are also reassuringly draft-proof during cold nights and even sandstorms.
An integral part of RacingThePlanet’s ethos is to leave no trace of their passing which is no mean feat when organising for a group of 200 people (competitors, organisers and volunteers) to pass through the desert. RacingThePlanet takes this task seriously. They institute a system of time penalties for any competitor seen littering! Sweepers also follow behind the final competitors removing course markers and remaining litter from the ground. However, the competitors are just as fanatical about this issue as the organisers and are, on the whole, overwhelmingly attentive to this.
Flags for every nation represented in the race are flying at the start and finish lines of each stage.
There are just 25 days left until the start of this race. As one competitor puts it “its getting very close now, a mixture of nervousness and excitement!!” A Pre-Race update on the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2012 will be provided on the RacingThePlanet website on Saturday, 3 March 2012.