Posts Tagged ‘The Gobi March’

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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…

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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.


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The toughest endurance race in the world – the Gobi March has begun

June 14, 2009

We love bringing your attention to anything extreme – and this race … the second of the Four Desert races, began today. We covered the Atacama Crossing (Chili) in March – so now it’s time for another of the most extreme races in the world – The Gobi March.

The Gobi March is known to be the most unpredictable and hostile of the 4 Deserts events with ever-changing weather and terrain, including sand and dust storms, floods and extreme heat and cold.  Competitors will be required to ascend 3,000 m above sea level to Shipton’s Arch (also known as “Heaven’s Gate” by the locals. It’s a phenomenal landmark said to be the tallest natural arch in the world. The arch once figured in the Guinness Book of Records for its exceptional height, but editors of the book could not verify the location of the arch exactly, so the listing was dropped.   It was only recently rediscovered out of obscurity by a National Geographic team in 2000.

View from the base of the rubble pile

A little trivia on the arch:

Trivial perhaps but astonishing figures… The height of the arch is estimated to be 1,200 feet, about the height of the Empire State Building. The span of the arch is roughly 180 feet. The “true” height of the arch is debatable: viewing the arch from the east (normal approach route) it appears to be 200 feet tall from the top of the 100 foot rubble pile; from the west side (approachable via a technical canyon ascent), the height is closer to the estimated 1,200 feet. The height depends upon what constitutes the base of the arch, which is either the base of the rubble pile (which is partially under the arch and where the span achieves its maximum width) or the floor of the west side canyon head, 900 feet lower.

Back to The Gobi March:

127 competitors from 28 countries have set off on the 20th RacingThePlanet event. This is the youngest and most inexperienced field to date  with 101 competitors competing for the first time in a 4 Deserts event. however, these aren’t raw recruits – so to speak. Several have summitted Everest, one, 24-year-old Wei Weichao of China, came 7th in a 100km race in Beijing. These are competitors, albeit new to RacingThePlanet, who have tried their hands at other extreme pastimes. Wei Weichao is hoping for a top ranking to become the first-ever from China to win the Gobi March.

Many competitors will be raising money for charities throughout the world.  RacingThePlanet in conjunction with The Esquel Group has donated sporting goods and computers to schools in and around Kashgar.

Against the backdrop of the 2nd largest statue of Chairman Mao in the world, competitors completed their check-in. After check-in, most competitors returned back to their rooms to pack, and re-pack, hoping to shave off those last few grams off their load, before loading onto a convoy of buses and making their way to the site of campsite 1: Gazi. The lightest pack is being carried by experienced ultramarathon runner Diana Hogan-Murphy of Ireland  who carefully counted her daily calories and weight down to the most minute detail. “I realised that it would just be too hot to eat most of the things I thought I might want to, so stuck to basics and made sure that it was high calorie, and light.”

The bus-ride took the competitors to the start of race – the first campsite. They were greeted by a huge gathering of clapping and cheering local Uyghur and Kirghiz people and entertained by local Uyghur men on horseback playing an what is probably an early form of polo, with a sheep’s pelt being the instrument for scoring.

The race got off to a good start and now, at the close of the first day, the last competitors  have  all reached camp successfully, some visibly exhausted and relieved to be able to drop their loads at camp 2, but spirits were good. “I feel like I have run 26 miles,” joked Sean Abbott of the United States, as he stretched out his legs. “Well I feel as I have done more,” responded Matthew McLellan from Australia…

The first competitor to pass through the finish line at Stage 1 was Eric C. LaHaie (United States). In second place was Riel Carol (France) at 13.19.30, a seasoned athlete having paced for the London Marathon for the past two years. Third was Chinese National Weichao Wei at 13.27.53, whose speed was testament to his success at the North Face Race 100km earlier this year where he placed seventh overall. In the women’s division, Diana Hogan-Murphy (Ireland) who passed through check-point 3 at 12.49, is expected to arrive shortly, having lead the race as a woman for the whole stage.

You can follow this race directly on the Racing ThePlanet link (www.4deserts.com/gobimarch) or keep reading our Blog as we will be bringing you updates.

With thanks toracingtheplanet for the videos.