Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Gobi March – 10th Anniversary Edition


A Magical New Course Set to Celebrate 10 Years of the Gobi March

After more than seven years of setting courses for RacingThePlanet, Pierre Beguin thought he had seen it all. But as he and event director Riitta Hanninen descended into Mysterious Rock Valley while plotting the 2013 Gobi March course, they knew they were about to set a new standard in the 4 Deserts series.


“It’s full of bizarre rock formations as far as the eye can see,” Riitta explains of the visual feast that awaits competitors in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Province, best known as the home of Mongol empire leader Genghis Khan.

The move to Bortala Mongol and Yili Kazakh Autonomous Prefectures this year was inspired by the ten-year anniversary of the race. “We decided to find a different course to celebrate,” she says. The region, a secret of long-term local manager Medina who lives and works near there, was selected for its remoteness and untouched beauty.


Indeed, the mysterious valley is just one of the many highlights of the course this year. Starting at the foot of the Altai Mountains, the seven-day adventure weaves its way through the Tian Shan mountain region (literally “heavenly mountains”), with almost celestial views of Lake Sayram at 2070 metres elevation along the way.

While the Gobi March desert races have become known for offering a cultural experience amongst the Mongol, Uyghur and Kazakh minority groups that live there, the isolated location this year promises even more unique insight. Sharing an international border with Kazakhstan to the north and west, the region has become well known for the colorful culture of the remote villages. “People in this part of the province don’t get to see visitors often, especially international visitors,” says Riitta.

Along the 250 kilometre / 155 mile journey, competitors can expect anything from grasslands, Gobi (a mixture of dusty and stony desert), farmlands, dirt tracks, riverbeds, rolling hills, mountain valleys, plains and plateaus. “With a landscape that is positively alpine and a climate to match, competitors are going to have a stunning experience,” she says.


With sensory and cultural overload promised along a fresh course, it seems the tenth year of the race will be bigger and better than ever before.

By Rachel Jacqueline

The 10th edition of Gobi March starts on the 2nd of June 2013 and along with the Atacama Crossing (Chile), Sahara Race (Egypt) and The Last Desert (Antarctica) they make up the 4 Deserts Series. To register for the event complete an online application at or for more information, email us at



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The Pilgrim Challenge kicks off XNRG’s race season

Pilgrim ChallengeExtreme Energy’s 2013 race season got off to a record-breaking start last weekend, with Danny Kendall shaving 17 minutes off the previous course record to finish the 64-mile, 2-day ultra-marathon course in 8 hours 49 minutes and 21 seconds, and Annabelle Stearns breaking the women’s record to finish in 10h23.07.

Where last year’s Pilgrim Challenge was memorable for its snow, this year’s race will be remembered by many for its deep, shoe-sucking mud.

“My favourite comment this weekend was from a smiley cyclist who very cheerily told me to ”Embrace the mud”. Great advice – there was little else you could do!”, recalled Extreme Energy Envoy Michelle Double (3rd lady, 12h05.25)

The Pilgrim Challenge course follows a section of the historic North Downs Way from Farnham to Merstham, and heavy going at the end of day one saw runners digging deep into their energy reserves. The same muddy conditions made for a challenging start to day two, but with the evening entertainment from motivational speaker, ultra-legend and Enduroman-record breaker Andy Mouncey fresh in their memories, 150 of the 217 registered walkers and runners battled on to make it to the end of the gruelling course.

18 hours separated the first of the runners and the last of the walkers, with the final finisher coming home to resounding cheers after an impressive 26 hrs 49 minutes out on the course. From veteran UTMB points-collectors to ultra-marathon virgins, the field included walkers and runners at every stage in their ultra careers, with a 44-year age gap between the oldest and youngest finishers. As second-placed lady, Jennifer Bradley (11h37.17), put it:

“This weekend isn’t just about the racing … XNRG create a really inclusive, encouraging atmosphere for everyone and it was a lovely moment when Andy’s talk was halted about 8pm to cheer in Day one’s last three finishers (still smiling!) who must’ve been out there for 12 hours.”

Extreme Energy Race Director, Neil Thubron, said, “Our largest field, a course breaking winning time, the longest time out on the course for a finisher, and an awesome overnight just created the perfect ultra trail running weekend and a great start to the year. We were inspired by the efforts of all competitors and humbled by the fantastic feedback we have received. The course is tough enough with some very large climbs over the 33 miles each day, but add to that very wet and muddy ground to suck away your energy and you have a very challenging 2 days work!”

The Pilgrim Challenge is the first of six ultramarathons organised by Extreme Energy in 2013, and every Extreme Energy ultramarathon challenge is all-inclusive – minibus transfers to and from the race; overnight accommodation; square meals in the evening and morning and checkpoint food and drink are all included.

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Jez Bragg completes 1900 mile New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail

Jez Bragg from the UK, has completed the fastest traverse of the  1,898mile North-to-South Te Araroa Trail in a Record-Breaking 53 days.

You can read all about it and find plenty of links to articles on Jez’s own blog.


In 2018, a race where you start anywhere you like, as long as you reach the finish within 24 hours. ...

Convergence - Summer

June 9, 2018, 12:00pm - June 10, 2018, 6:00am

It’s game time. In this game, you will gamble on your own fitness and ability. You know where the finish line is, but you are not following a fixed course; you “make” your own course. You tell no one else where you intend to start from. That way you are blind-betting against everyone as to from how far away you will start, and thus, how high you will eventually rank. Those who travel the furthest, rank highest. However, if you don’t reach the finish line you don’t get a medal, so gamble wisely…. The premise is simple. You can start from anywhere you want, at midday. You then have 24 hours to ‘converge’ on the central finish line in order to claim your award. You make your own route. You can start any distance from the finish line, but the further away you start, the better your award (should you make it to the finish). All distances are measured “as the crow flies” from the finish. For all those challenging this is where it gets even more interesting. The people who rank highest are those who travel from the furthest away. You are under no obligation to tell anyone where you are starting, so you are all blind-betting against each other! You won’t know where anyone starts from until the GPS tracking link goes live at midday. Even then, will those who started far away make the finish line on time? Of course if you start 100 miles away and miss the finish line cut-off, then you don’t get a medal. Oh, the cruelty. The Crow will be watching all of those Converging, using the miracle of Race Drone event tracking technology. The Crow will judge how far the shadows have run, and reward them with the right medal on the line. If you travel from 30 miles away or fewer, we’ll email you a certificate only. Venture from further away (30 to 60 miles) and claim a Silver Convergence, 60 to 90 miles and you’ll take Gold. If you come from 90 miles or more away (As the crow flies), then you’ll claim the Black Convergence medal. There is a little more to tell you. You can Converge only on foot. The Crow knows how fast you travel You can Converge solo for 24 hours, either female or male If you are scared of the dark, you can converge for 24 hours as a pair You will be given no advice on where to run, or hide You make your own route. Use any means you wish to wayfind You obviously can’t use private land or anything illegal (motorways etc). Your route choice is your own choice and risk. We recommend strongly that you stay off A-roads, or roads that have no pavement There are no checkpoints. Use your wit and guile to feed yourself. Call for your mother if you must The World will keep an eye on you from afar using tracking technology Have more questions? The wise old bird has the answers Feel ready to take your first steps into a darker world? Register Here

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