Video: The Beauty of the Irrational

Ryan Sandes is a South African ultra-runner who is the first person to win all four of the 4 Deserts ultramarathons. That means that he is really, really good at running long distance in inhospitable environments. One of those environments that has eluded him is the Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia. The canyon is the second longest in the world and the landscape is challenging for anyone to cross, let alone someone trying to run it. Sandes returned to the canyon to attempt to cover 84km (52 miles) in five days, which doesn’t seem like a lot for an endurance runner. But when you get a look at the wonderfully crafted video below you’ll understand just exactly what he dealing with. The canyon is a beautiful, yet very difficult place.

The Beauty of the Irrational from The African Attachment on Vimeo.

Kraig Becker

4 thoughts on “Video: The Beauty of the Irrational”

  1. Fish River Canyon is a popular 4-5 day hiking trail. Spectacular. Back in 2003 a bunch of Namibian adventure racers decided to give it a go at doing the route in one day. They succeeded. I think their time was 10h54. Last year two of these guys launched the one-day Fish River Canyon Ultra.

    I had the fortune of running it. Initially the route was listed at 100km and then 85km. I measured it at 65km. It wasn't the true hiking trail route, which the guys did in 2003, as we skipped the day one section (instead we ran along the top of the canyon and then dropped in, missing a big and nasty boulder section). What an absolutely fantastic event and I had a glorious day out there.

    This year the race was held the weekend before Ryan gave it a go at setting a time to beat. I believe the race route is slightly different over the first 10-15km to last year – closer to the hiking trail route, which is what I think Ryan ran.

    Ryan ran just under seven hours (6h57)! Really, really impressive.

    A bunch of guys doing the route in a day is not quite the same as a world-class runner aiming to set a time to beat, which very much explains the four-hour difference in the times.

    Now that there is such a superb time set, it would be awesome for more people to give it a go and I'm sure that Ryan could even better it – just as he himself gets better and better.

    Nice thing about this route is that it is varied with firm surfaces, thick sand, boulder fields and more than 20 river crossings. Most of the time you're next to the river except for two 'short-cut' sections that cut across river bends. Temperatures range from cool and shady in the early morning to sweltering for a good chunk of hours during the day. It really is a spectacular environment and the race is a wonderful way to experience it.

    I wrote a blog about my day out there last year. Keep in mind that the route is now slightly different in the beginning.

    The guys out that way, Tinus and Russell, are very friendly and accommodating and they'll certainly welcome anyone wanting to head out that way.


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