The 2008 Gobi March is set to get underway this Sunday, starting from Kashgar, in the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture of China. The race, which now enters it’s 5th year, will once again follow the ancient Silk Road as competitors run through Dunhuang, Turpan, Hami and Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County.
The Gobi March is part of the 4 Deserts series of ultramarathons put on by Racing The Planet each year. This year’s event will have approximately 170 competitors from 26 countries, making it the largest international sporting event in Western China. (There is a slightly bigger one taking place in Eastern China in August.)
The event, like all the races in the 4 Deserts series, are stage race ultramarathons that take place in extreme conditions. In the case of the Gobi March, the race will be six stages in length, with the longest stage, called “The Long March”, being 79 kilometers or roughly 49 miles. At it’s peak, the competitors will be as high as 3000 meters (9842 feet), and unlike the general perception of a desert, the Gobi can be quite cold at times, although it remains mostly dry, averaging just 7 inches of rain per year.
One of the top contenders to win this year’s event is the Ultramarathon Man himself Dean Karnazes. Dean is hoping to complete the Desert Grandslam, in which he’ll run in the Atacama Crossing, Gobi March, Sahara Race, The Last Desert, and the Badwater Ultra all in the same year. He has already completed, and won, the Atacama Crossing, and if successful in his quest, he’ll be the first man to complete the 4 Deserts and Badwater in the same year.
Next week I’ll post updates from the event. Should be another great race.
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