Archive for the ‘adventure racing’ Category


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


The longest kite buggy journey ever attempted … 2,500km

June 29, 2009
“The definition of adventure is outcome unknown, says Steve Gurney.

And that is what Mad Way South is all about.

This wind powered odyssey began casually when Geoff Wilson challenged a Kiwi friend to a buggy race. The Mad Way South race was born and four mad and extreme wind driven men set to start racing from Northern Morocco on August 3rd 2009.

They will attempt the first ever journey across the Sahara desert on kite buggies this summer.

There’s a twofold reason for this race. One is an effort to help promote green travel and the second is to raise money for charity.

The race will cover 2,500 km of the worlds toughest terrain in just 30 days. They aim to claim the rights to be the first to have ever crossed this desert by wind power alone from Agadir in Morocco, through Western Sahara, Mauritania, and end in Dakar, Senegal.

This will be man and machine pitted against the harshest environment in the world at the end of the Saharan Summer.

30 days is the aim… but since this is unchartered terrain and has never been attempted before, the time-scale will be flexible.

The team consists of 2 Kiwis and 2 Aussies.

One of the Kiwis is a recycled Zimbabwean, Craig Hansen. He has been flying kites since he was 10 years of age and has a passion for kite traction and wind assisted travel – specifically as a means for journeying. He is co-owner of Peter Lynn Kites based in New Zealand, and he and Peter have designed the “Big Foot” buggy and its Saharan adaptations for the Mad Way South.

Geoff Wilson, the team leader, is an African born Aussie, veterinarian come adventurer – who is obsessed with all things wind driven. He has already completed a year long, 25,000km odyssey on a yacht, and crossed the Egyptian Sahara by bicycle.

Garth Freeman, another Australian, is the youngest member of the team.  Despite this he brings many man hours flying kites and considerable expertise to the mix. He is a professional kite instructor and one of his pre-race conditions is to ensure that Geoff has all the kite flying skills he needs to survive the journey!

The fourth member is Steve Gurney – Kiwi born and bred. He is an ex-professional Adventure Racing athlete who was at the top of his game for 16 years, with 9 Coast to Coast wins, numerous Adventure race team wins, and twice represented NZ at the world Mountain-biking Champs. He is also a well known motivational speaker.  He no longer competes, but is taking part in this race in a bid to seek “green” and sustainable adventure options.

These 4 will be backed up by a highly efficient and knowledgeable support team.

Asked why they were doing it, Dr Wilson said: “The idea is to road-test these vehicles in one of the world’s most rugged environments and also promote eco-friendly travel. As for why the Sahara Desert was chosen as the battleground – it’s simply because no one else has been stupid enough to try it.”

The challenge will be staged as a rally, with several timed stages, and will also be filmed as an international television documentary.

The purpose for the Mad Way South Sahara Challenge is to raise awareness of the plight of women and children who have been forced into commercial sexual exploitation in Cambodia. They are hoping to raise $100,000 for the “SHE Rescue Home – Cambodia”.

kitebuggy by Adam Head


The last word on the Gobi March 2009

June 24, 2009

From Adventure Racing to Ultra-Marathons…

As you will have surmised, the Gobi March has drawn to a successful close with a fantastic race enjoyed by all.

The final stage of the competition was a 10 kilometer course passing through the Old City of Kashgar (the one that is about to be razed to the ground to make way for a modern replacement) and the finish took place in front of the Id Kah Mosque.

This stage was won by Weichao Wei (China). He blitzed through the finish line at 12.09.25 holding up the Chinese flag . In 2nd place was Riel Carol (France) at 12.13.30. Patrick Diaz (United States) followed soon after at 12.13.51. Shane O’Rourke (Ireland) came in looking strong at 12.15.50 with John Lewis (United Kingdom) in close pursuit, and then Shawn Harmon (United States). Eric LaHaie (United States) was the most recent arrival at 12.17.31.

Having led most of the way, Eric LaHaie was the overall winner, with Diana Hogan-Murphy (Ireland)  being the overall winner in the women’s division. Group Cohesion was the first placed team.

I promised to bring you the remaining stages and thank racingtheplanet once again for putting them on youTube.

And the final day with the first competitors crossing the line:

Our sincerest congratulations go out to all and every one of you.


Adventure Racing and its dangers

June 23, 2009

Adventure Racing is one of the extreme sports that we blog about regularly, and it is best to remember that it is an extreme sport – witness the tragic death of 3 participants in the Raid du Mercantour last weekend, 21st June.

Adventure Racing is an example of how the mixture of terrain and weather conditions can catch out even the most experienced of runners and trekkers.

When I first started writing about Adventure Racing, the first thing that crossed my mind was that, whilst physically and mentally challenging, a long hike through difficult and varying terrain was a bit ‘tame’.

I apologise profusely to all Adventure Racers – and hasten to add that that thought lasted less than 10 minutes as my research broadened.

Since then I have been impressed and amazed at the antics that the sportsmen (and women) get up to, and think that, as an extreme sport, it is probably one of the best.

Don’t shoot me down in flames if you don’t agree… but Adventure Racing is quite something.

For those of you who are not too sure what Adventure Racing is all about, it’s a combination of two or more disciplines, including orienteering  (if an orienting map is used) and/or navigation (when non-orienteering maps are used), cross-country running, mountain biking, paddling and climbing and related rope skills. An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints can be completed in a matter of hours. There is typically no dark period  during races, irrespective of length; competitors must choose if or when to rest.

You need to be superfit. You need to have a team you know well and trust. You need to have mental and physical stamina. And you need to know how to do all the above disciplines … and more.

It’s many sports all rolled into one…

The first official Adventure Race was “The Raid Gauloises”, held in New Zealand in 1989, and consisted of 400 miles of mountaineering, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and rafting over a two week period. The first U.S. race was the Eco Challenge, held in Utah in 1995.

Adventure Racing has become so popular that it has even had a TV series made in its honour – the Odyssey series (trainingsept ):

So why do it? Well, it has been said that Adventure Racing is one’s own personal road to self-discovery as it allows an individual to find his or her limits and push through them because the ‘Race’ often takes participants out of their comfort zone by challenging them with unfamiliar surroundings, often while sleep deprived and physically exhausted.

Anyone can become an Adventure Racer. It’s  an easy crossover for cyclist, runners and water sport enthusiasts. Many former tri-athletes, marathon and ultra-marathon competitors looking to add more spice to their chosen fields have taken it up.  Some sportsmen found themselves suffering recurring injuries in their sport and so turned to Adventure Racing as an alternative. Aging athletes, on the other hand, discovered that while they can no longer keep up with 20-somethings in a foot race, in a 24+ hour races, they have some competitive advantages!

As with ALL sports, accidents and tragedies DO happen.

This is the  RAID season in France and there are many keen participants.

“I’m used to hiking in mountains since I’m a kid, doing a lot of alpinism, skiing, climbing…I’ve discovered adventure racing about 10 years ago and I love it!” says Carine Porret.

“I like adventure racing because I’m a racer, I like the spirit and the race parties!….” says Franck Salgues

“I’m Brasilian living in Miramas,France,in a beautiful winery,I travelled the world for the past 7 years to compete in diferents AR,” says Karina Bacha.

I could give you hundreds of quotes.

“I was born with a compass in the hand! I participate in a lots of orienteering competitions with all my family…my three daughters and my wife are like me: addicted to!….” says Michel Denaix.

But I won’t!

As I said above, this is the Grand Raid season in France, but on Sunday in the Grand Raid du Mercantour in the South of France about 80kms north of Nice, the region suffered adverse weather conditions and three runners died under tragic circumstances.  It was the ‘running stage’ of the race and had already been reduced from 100kms to 80 because of the abundance of snow still around. The alarm was raised as a number of competitors had not returned by the 6pm cut-off time, and emergency services were scrambled in an attempt to locate the missing people. All 3 were in their 50’s and it is suspected that they died of  hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. Our sympathies go out to their families.

This is not an extreme sport for nothing…


2nd ranked endurance race in the world

June 19, 2009

The Gobi March continues. Only one more day to go though, and so many of the competitors still going strong – even when the going gets really tough.. Extreme sport, extreme courage, extreme challenge, extreme perseverence… well done to all of them.

I am going to show you a series of videos from racingtheplanet over the past few days, starting with Stage 2 as I have previously aired Stage 1. Plus I’m going to give you a few more facts and figures about this extreme endurance race…

The Gobi March is an ultramarathon, adventure race, expedition race and extreme race all rolled into one…

It’s a 250km race over a period of 6 days…

The Gobi March is now the largest international sporting event in Western China. The majority of the area where the Gobi March is being held is closed to tourists, requiring special permits…

175+ athletes compete…

38 is the average age…

35 countries are represented…

30 athletes will not finish…

25% will be aged 40 – 49…

19 is the age of the youngest competitor…

It will be 110* Fahrenheit (43.3* C) after noon…

The event is set up to allow for generous cutoff times. The leaders run the whole course, and many walk the whole course…

Each competitor will carry a 20 lb (+/-) food and gear pack…

10,000 calories will be burnt daily…

20 + pounds will be lost in bodyweight over the 6 days…

(sounds like the perfect diet to me!!!)

2 competitors, French Valerie Autissier and Cyril Goss, are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary on the March…

At the end of Stage 5,  German sisters Larissa Hippchen and Caroline Kracht, said, “The stage was long and the river bed never ending,” but they were thrilled to cross the finish line…

Simone Bishop (South Africa), Kimberley Dods (South Africa) and Hannah Sandling (United Kingdom) have been nicknamed ‘The Glamour Girls’.

Current status at the end of Stage 5 finds Eric LaHaie still at the top.

Eric LaHaie (United States) and Riel Carol (France) crossed the finish line together at the end of Stage 5 at 17.50.29 . The pair had run for the past 40km in a duo. “There was no way I could have kept that pace if I had been alone,” said Riel. LaHaie and Riel were running at a pace of just under a 9 minute mile, picking up the pace as they neared the finish line. For the first 50km, Riel had LaHaie in his target, but as the pair began to tire through the grueling stage, they admitted to relinquishing competitive ambition to see it more as a shared experience. LaHaie said, “I was in bad shape for the first part of the stage, and my knees were giving out, but when Riel caught up with us I said to him, ‘you set the pace, I’m going with you.’”

Sean Abbott (United States) who had remained in the top three throughout the race came into camp at 17.59.17. Abbott was greeted by the top two who shared first place for the stage, placing him in second place today.

And why take part in something as extreme as this? As RacingThePlanet says, it’s “life enhancing for all, life changing for many.”

And whilst the competitors are out there slogging their hearts out, the race organisers and helpers have some fun…

That’s it for today, the Day 5 video is not yet available…


A quick Gobi March update…

June 17, 2009

Going from one extreme endurance race to another… whilst waxing lyrical about the Mongol Derby, we mustn’t forget the Gobi March – all in the same corner of the world. Both endurance marathons beyond compare.

Yesterday, stage 3, was taken by LaHaie (United States) who was  seemingly unaffected by the altitude and gradual but continual ascent.  Riel Carol (France) took second place and Weichao Wei (China) third. Diana Hogan-Murphy, despite struggling with the course , was still leading the women’s division.
Stage 4 is drawing to a close as I write, this section includes a summit of Shipton’s Arch, a 3000 meter natural arch, said to be the tallest in the world. American Sean W. Abbott has come in first … more on the other placements later.

Enjoy these highlights from Day 1, courtesy of racingtheplanet.

OMG, what terrain, what scenery…


Extreme Dreams, extreme people, extreme challenge – what else could we be talking about but Ben Fogle and the Mongol Derby

June 17, 2009

Ben Fogle is atypical of our site. He challenges every aspect of life and seems to have a lot of fun doing it. As far as extreme sports go – he pretty well does them all…

So who exactly is he? He is a Presenter, Writer and Adventurer. His achievements include racing 160 miles across the Sahara desert in the notorious Marathon Des Sables. He has rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 49 days and crossed Antarctica in a foot race to the South Pole. That’s just for starters…

Rowing 2006 (001)

He has presented numerous television programmes including Extreme Dreams and as well as writing regularly for the Sunday Telegraph and The Independent, he has written four best-selling books.

He is also an ambassador for WWF, Medecins Sans Frontier and Tusk. He’s a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the President of the Campaign for National Park’s.

And he’s only 35 years old…

His next testing task is going to be the Mongol Derby – the longest, toughest horse race on earth. He’ll ride 1,000 kms accompanied by 25 horses, for which he will be personally responsible. “It’s already giving me sleepless nights,” he says with a grin,but if I didn’t do what I do, I’d be like a caged animal.”

So, what exactly is the Mongol Derby?

It’s “a race so big it would make Roman Emperors go weak at the knees.”

Great description that isn’t it. But I’ll give you more… including one of the rider’s introductory video on the Derby – Charles van Wyk (CvWMD ):

The idea for “the race” comes from Genghis Khan’s  incredible postal system – and we’re talking many many years ago, somewhere around the turn of the 12th century.

When he ‘ruled the world’ he realised the importance of being in touch, and knowing exactly what was happening and where. So he took the existing ancient and rather small network of horse messengers and supercharged it, creating a mind-bendingly efficient relay system of horse-stations that enabled his messengers to go faster than the speed of light itself. With horses stationed every 30 to 40 km it’s said he could get a message from Mongolia to Eastern Europe in just fourteen days. That would probably beat today’s postal system!

This year, 2009, some bold adventurists have decided to emulate this great but forgotten postal service,  resurrect the horse-stations and gather 800 horses to create the mother of all races.

The Mongol Derby will tackle the challenge of semi-wild horses and surviving alone in the wild steppes of Mongolia. There’s no carefully marked course, no catering tent and no support; this is horse racing on a whole new scale. You will change steed every 40 km so the horses will be fresh.

The nature of the Mongol Derby means it is the rider under stress not the horse. Traditional Mongolian horses are an extremely tough breed that has changed little since the Mongol Hordes swept across Asia on their backs in the early thirteenth century. They range in size from 12 to 14 hands high and roam the vast Mongolian steppe all year round. As the Mongol Derby will be run across wild terrain, not roads, the horses will be unshod as they always are.

A Mongolian horse (with trimmed mane) in traditional riding gear

Humans are not so tough. Bleeding kidneys, broken limbs, open sores, sun stroke, moon stroke and a list of dangers longer than your arm stand between the you and victory!

Now, for some of you who might be yearning to take part in this race, when does it happen?

The warm up

Pre-race Meeting, UK
Date and location to be confirmed Afternoon tea and talk with a renowned explorer.

Pre-race Training, Mongolia
20 & 21 August 2009
Two-day training extravaganza with former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody.

Launch Party
21 August 2009
Mighty send-off from Kharkhorin, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire. Feasting, dancing, fermented mare’s milk and Mongolian merry-making galore.

The race

Race Start
22 August 2009
Riders gallop forth into the wilderness.

Midway Party
29 August 2009
Catch up with your fellow racers and spin yarns of wrestles with wolves.

Closing Ceremonies
5 September 2009
Bathe in the glory of completing the world’s longest and toughest horse race. Riders will be lauded as pioneers and their names etched in adventuring history.

It costs  US$4,550 in total. However, don’t despair – you could always try for sponsorship and raise money for your favourite charity at the same time.

Additional costs will be the airfare to Mongolia, a single-entry Mongolian visa, and hotel costs before and after the race.

As the race approaches you will be able to track the riders live through an interactive map. The route starts in the Khentii Aimag, at Delgerhaan and ends at Kharkhorin, Chinggis Khaan’s capital, 1000km later.

The organisers of The Mongol Derby, in partnership wtih Tengri, have issued the following warning:


Before you even consider applying for this race we want to point out how dangerous the Mongol Derby is, and how dangerous the sport of horse riding is.

And when we talk about horse riding, we don’t just mean getting on a horse you are familiar with at home. We mean riding a series of unfamiliar horses across wild Mongolian terrain. By taking part in this race you are greatly increasing your risk of severe physical damage. You could break limbs, suffer internal injuries, become paralysed or even die. Please do not underestimate the extreme nature of the Mongol Derby.

I am afraid that, having given you details of costs etc, entrance to this race is now closed for 2009. However, just around the corner is 2010 and with some planning you could be one of the handful of riders in the next race…

Watch this space – I’ll keep you updated on this fantastic and extreme endurance race.