Atacama Crossing 2008 Begins Sunday

The 2008 edition of the Atacama Crossing is set to get underway this Sunday in Chile. The six-stage ultramarathon will last seven days, and cover more than 250km. (155 miles)

This event is part of the 4 Deserts series of races put on annually by Racing The Planet. This year there will be more than 80 competitors, both male and female, from 21 countries around the World. The six stages vary in length greatly, with the longest stage clocking in at 73.6km (45 miles) and the shortest, which happens to be the final day, is just 10.4km (6 miles).

This year’s event will also see three competitors who will attempt to finish all four “4 Deserts” events in a single calendar year. They are South African Paul H. Liebenberg, Dane Jimmi Olsen, and the Ultramarathon Man himself, American Dean N. Karnazes. If everything goes as planned, these three men will be running endurance events not only in the Atacama, but also the Gobi, Sahara, and finally Antarctica later this year.

The Atacama Desert is quite an interesting place in it’s own right. Stretching 960km (600 miles) south from Peru, and running 160km (100 miles) east from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains, it covers a significant portion of Chile. The desert is essentially a rainless plateau, without a single drop of precipitation having ever been recorded there by man. The landscape is eerie and other worldly with lava flows, salt flats, sand, and dry river beds that haven’t seen water in 120,000 years. The area is said to be 50 times dryer than Death Valley, if you can believe that.

Sounds like a great place to go for a run. Or six. Good luck to everyone involved. Should be another great event.

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