Monthly Archives: November 2012

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Historic Last Desert gets underway today

One of the world’s most extraordinary endurance races gets underway this Thursday, 22 November, as 55 competitors set out on a journey to race up to 250 kilometers across the world’s largest and coldest desert.

It is the fifth edition of The Last Desert, the most eagerly awaited race in the 4 Deserts series because of the rare chance it offers individuals to race in Antarctica, one of the most pristine natural settings on Earth. It promises to be an historic edition with several individuals aiming to break records. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito, a 36-year-old firefighter from the Alicante region of Spain, sets out to become the first person in history to win all of the 4 Deserts events in one calendar year—a huge achievement. In the women’s division, Germany’s Anne-Marie Flammersfeld takes on the same challenge having won women’s gold throughout 2012.

“The Last Desert is always an anticipated event that, for many, is the pinnacle of the 4 Deserts journey. The year 2012 is especially exciting with so many records: the men’s and women’s winners both set to make history by winning all 4 Deserts in one year; four of the youngest people ever to compete; and the largest number of Grand Slammers in history,” says Vice President of Events, Samantha Fanshawe.

A large proportion of competitors are arriving to the end of an incredible year; 18 are attempting to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam in 2012, having successfully completed the Atacama Crossing (Chile), the Gobi March (China) and the Sahara Race (Egypt). Leonard Stanmore of Canada is attempting a record of his own: to be the first person to complete both the Seven Summits and the 4 Deserts series. The 60-year-old races to raise money for the charity Trekking for Kids.

An extraordinary sense of diversity is evident in this year’s field. Amid the 55 competitors taking part, a total of 27 countries are represented, including 11 Australians in the field. Ages range from 22 years to 63 years—the oldest competitor is Kumi Murakami, a swimming coach from Japan.

The journey begins on Thursday, 22 November, when competitors board the Dutch expedition ship in Argentina and set out on a two-day route through the Drake Passage. The race kicks off on Sunday, 25 November, where competitors set out on a course that traverses a rich assortment of landscapes, from deep snow and high points, to a black sandy beach that is so warm from geothermal activity that it continually steams.

Surrounding the activity will be extraordinary wildlife of The White Continent, from penguin colonies to whales, seals and a rich variety of birds. The course is set according to weather conditions and may move over a host of settings including Paradise Bay, Cuverville, Neko Harbour and Wienke Island, on which Dorian Bay, Damoy Point and Port Lockroy are located. A night spent camping on the Antarctic Peninsular is also planned.

Unlike other 4 Deserts events, competitors will be sleeping aboard the expedition vessel between the planned six stages, yet they still must carry their own supplies – and take on the immense challenge of racing through the snow, ice and freezing conditions of the world’s largest cold desert.

About The Last Desert 2012 (22 Nov – 3 Dec 2012) – www.thelastdesert.com

The Last Desert (Antarctica) is held every two years and forms the final race of the iconic 4 Deserts series. Competitors must complete a minimum of two of the other 4 Deserts events to be invited to participate in the race.

The self-supported footrace is up to 250 kilometers with competitors having to carry a mandatory list of equipment, nutrition and water on each stage. The race uses a polar expedition ship as its base, traveling to the different course locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and offshore islands based on the prevailing sea and weather conditions, with competitors transferred from ship to shore by special zodiacs.

The unique challenges of The Last Desert (Antarctica) include having to cope with the severity of the weather conditions that can include gale-force blizzards and temperatures down to -20 degrees C (4 degrees F). Competitors also have to deal with the unpredictability of daily stage lengths and start-times, as the prevailing environmental conditions dictate where and when stages might begin.

About the 4 Deserts www.4deserts.com

The 4 Deserts is the world’s leading endurance footrace series, a unique collection of world-class races that take place over 7 days and 250 kilometers in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet.

Competitors must go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and formidable landscapes, they must carry all their own equipment and food, and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest.

The series, named again by TIME magazine as one of the world’s Top 10 endurance competitions, comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Gobi March in China, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica.

For media and press enquiries including access to photos please email info@racingtheplanet.com


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Sahara Race 2012 – Post race press release

[3 November 2012, Pyramids of Giza, Egypt] – Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito of Spain has done it again. The 36-year old completed the 250-kilometer course of the Sahara Race today in a time of 25:56:12. This marks his third victory of the year.

“It’s great to end in a such a spectacular site,” said Beneito as he came into the finish line amid the legendary Pyramids of Giza. “I’m so happy also to finally arrive with the other competitors, it’s a good feeling, not that I’ve felt alone this week. Now I’m going to rest with friends and family.”

The Spanish firefighter is on track to what could be a record-breaking year. Should he emerge as champion of The Last Desert (Antarctica) in three weeks time, he will be the first person to ever win all 4 Deserts races in one calendar year.

There was an equally incredible performance in the women’s division with German competitor Anne-Marie Flammersfeld taking a gold medal and fifth position overall with a time of 31:08:33. Flammersfeld is also heading for an historic year—if she triumphs in Antarctica, she will be the first woman to ever win all 4 Deserts.

“I’m so happy, it’s been an incredible week,” said Flammersfeld who is a sports scientist and owner of All Mountain Fitness in the resort town of St. Moritz, Switzerland. “The finish by the Pyramids is so overwhelming.”

The Sahara Race kicked off on Sunday October 28th with approximately 140 competitors who set out from the starting line making it through the dramatic course that ranged from sand dunes, to valleys, lakes and the protected Wadi El-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, where ancient whale fossils still lie like museum relics on the sands.

Against the stunning backdrop of today’s finish line, the second person over the line was Canada’s Simon Donato (36), one of the stars of the TV show Boundless, who finished the course in a time of 28:48:53. Belgian competitor Steven Sleuyter (40) took the bronze medal with an overall time of 29:08:14.

Mary Gadams, RacingThePlanet CEO and Founder, commented: “It was a hot and sandy week but everyone persevered, mostly with a smile on their face. I’m so proud of every competitor.”

This is proving to be a landmark year for 4 Deserts where Grand Slammers—those who are taking on all four races in one calendar—are gaining compelling victories. The winning Team JDRF Born to Run consists of five Australians who are embarking on the 4 Deserts Grand Slam to raise funds for Type 1 Diabetes research.

They are Roger Hanney (38) who himself has Type 1 Diabetes, Jess Baker (30), Rob Schwebel (61), and father and son Matthew Donovan (22) and Greg Donovan (51). “We are all amazed at how vast and remote the desert is,” they said. “It was a special place to be. Born to Run is proud to finish three of the 4 Deserts, finishing first is the icing on the cake.”

For many of the competitors who are taking on the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, while today’s finish offered relief—it also marks the countdown to The Last Desert (Antarctica). There are just 19 days left to this spectacular event, the final race in the 4 Deserts series of 2012 that begins on November 22 amid the snow and ice of the planet’s southernmost continent.

 

About the Sahara Race 2012 (28 October – 3 November) – www.4deserts.com/sahararace

The Sahara Race is one of the four races that comprise the world renowned 4 Deserts series of 250-kilometer rough-country footraces. The race takes place in the historic Wadi Al-Hitan area of Egypt’s Sahara Desert, the largest non-polar desert in the world. Wadi Al-Hitan, or Valley of the Whales, is an ancient shallow sea where competitors pass fossils believed to be whales with legs that died 40 million years ago.

About the 4 Deserts – www.4deserts.com

The 4 Deserts is the world’s leading endurance footrace series, a unique collection of world-class races hat take place over 7 days and 250-kilomters in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet.

Competitors must go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and landscapes, they must carry all their own equipment and food, and are only provided with drinking water and place in a tent each night to rest.

The series, named again by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the world’s Top 10 endurance competitions comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Gobi March in China, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica.


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