Historic Last Desert gets underway today

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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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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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