The 2008 version of the Gobi March got underway on Sunday, with 190 runners from 26 countries taking part in the stage race ultramarathon event being held near Kashgar in western China. The course winds through a remote villages, and desolate sections of the Gobi Desert along part of what was once the Silk Road, and while it’s not as hot in the Gobi as it is in other deserts, it is still very dry and challenging.
After four stages, the top racer is currently Ryan Sandes of South Africa, followed by Siu Keung Tsang of Hong Kong, approximately 30 minutes back, and Juan Encina of Chile is in third roughly 42 minutes behind the leader. The top female competitor is Lia A. Farley from the United States who is in 7th place overall. American Dean Karnazes, attempting his Desert Grandslam, is currently in 4th place and about two hours and 18 minutes behind Sandes.
Tomorrow the racers will face their most challenging day of the race. The stage is dubbed “The Long March” thanks to it’s 80km (49 mile) length. The latest news updates suggest that this grueling stage will determine who the overall winner is, with the top three runners all within striking distance of one another depending on conditions and how strong their legs are. The final 12km stage is generally ceremonial with the leader taking a victory lap, and most of the runners happy to just reach the finish line.
Good luck to all the runners tomorrow. The Long March will be a test of their stamina for sure. Be safe!
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