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What does the RTP GRAND SLAM mean?

RacingThePlanet’s 4 Deserts event has once again been named as one of the top 10 endurance competitions in the world.

The 4 Deserts involve a six-day, 150-mile (250km) run/walk across each of the following: the Atacama in Chile, the Gobi – China and the Sahara. Only by completing those three can participants take part in the fourth and final stage, a walk across Antarctica known as the Last Desert competition. Because of its negligible rainfall Antarctica is considered to be a desert.

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So – competing in one of these events already comes under the extreme catagory – but competing in all 4 in the same year? Now that’s seriously extreme. Who in their right mind would even contemplate it?

Stupid question. It’s the ultimate challenge and there are plenty of endurance athletes out there who see this as the challenge of all challenges. The Grand Slam.

11 competitors this year were hoping to achieve the remarkable feat of finishing a Grand Slam of all four endurance events in one calendar year. Some of them are in the following video racingtheplanet

UK-based American Ricky Paugh was one of those aiming for the Grand Slam, but he was under no illusions about what the long, lonely stages would have in store for him and the rest of the field. “I definitely don’t feel like I’ve broken the back of the series because I am very aware that anything can happen out there at any given time,” he says. “Mother Nature and the human body are very fickle so I’m going to remain humble and just keep working hard to give myself the best chance possible of finishing.”

Sadly for him he did not complete the Sahara Race.

For those with their Grand Slam hopes still alive after the  Sahara, Antarctica will provide the final frontier. It is just five weeks away.

There is one even more extreme challenge – that of running RacingThePlanets SIX deserts. SIX. and Diego Carjaval (D to his friends) intends to be the first person to achieve this.  It began in March 2010 with the first RTP event, the Atacama,  followed by the Gobi March, and last week the Sahara. That leaves the Antarctic Desert which is to be run in November. Squeezed into this grueling schedule were two 100 mile dashes across Kimberley (Australia) and Taklamakan (China).

When he first heard what Diego was trying to do his friend, Matt Owens, who had never heard of RacingThePlanet, decided to do a bit of digging to see what it was all about and when he realised the enormity of the challenge Diego had set himself he “remembers the feeling of being absolutely astounded, and thought he was borderline crazy, which I am still not too sure about that he isn’t!”

Matt himself professed to being a comfortable couch potato, but felt challenged by Diego’s quest – challenged enough to enter the Sahara Race. From couch potato to endurance athlete in a matter of months. And he finished the Sahara Race. As did Diego – now all that lies infront of Diego becoming the FIRST person to do all 6 is the Antarctic Desert in 5 weeks time…

Both Diego and Matt run for the Multiple Sclerosis Society UK.

The very best of luck to all the challengers.

And whilst we sit here steeped in awe at the challenges some people set themselves, registration is already filling up fast for 2011’s RTP events with the Atacama Crossing beginning to look like a very competitive event …

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