Archive for the ‘Marathons’ 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 route for the Tour de France 2009

July 4, 2009

Carte du Tour 2009


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…


Kashgar – an extreme vacation, but you’d better be quick

June 15, 2009

As you know, Kashgar was the check-in point for the the Gobi March with contestants arriving before the 14th June to acclimatise, sightsee and complete the final paperwork.

The tragedy of Kashgar is that the ancient part of the town is about to be razed to the ground to make way for modern enterprise, so if you want to see how it looks – watch the video from racingtheplanet ,and then book a flight, but quickly… Kashgar has not much time left.

2009 will be the year that all the old vestiges of Kashgar’s 1,500 year old, Old City will be razed to make room for further civic development, new housing and business centres.

Bearing this in mind, the decision was made that the finish line of the Gobi March 2009 will take place in front of the largest mosque in the whole of China, situated next to the 2nd tallest statue of Chairman Mao in the world.  Competitors will race through the Old City, winding in and out of the small, labyrinthine arteries and pathways lined with intricately carved doorways of centuries old residences.  Bakeries, embroidery workshops and carpet weaving, family-run cottage industries are peppered along the sides of the dusty and uneven streets.  Soon, all that will remain are memories, as these families who have resided here for generations are displaced.

For not much longer will you have the opportunity to wander through this walled community of local Uyghur families, and tread over the same ground that thousands of people before them have for centuries.

So there’s an idea for an extreme vacation before extreme modernisation destroys antiquity!

In the meantime, the first contestants have nearly completed stage 2 of the Gobi March, with Eric LaHaie poised to win this stage, and Diana Hogan-Murphy still the leading female.

UPDATE: Weichao Wei (China) has taken stage 2 although LaHaie is still in the overall lead by 39 minutes. He came in second – 3 minutes behind Wei. Two competitors have withdrawn today. Andrew Whiteside (United Kingdom) officially withdrew at check-point 1, and Anastasios Votis (Canada) did the same at check-point 2. Temperatures are soaring. Yesterday’s highest temperature was 39.8 degrees (Celsius).

Let me remind you that RACINGTHEPLANET is a unique category of rough country footraces that take place over seven days and some 250 kilometers in remote and culturally rich locations around the world. Competitors must carry all their own equipment and food, are only provided with water and a place in a tent each day but are supported by professional medical and operations teams.