The 4 Deserts Race Series was founded in February 2002 in Hong Kong. The first event in the 4 Deserts Race Series was held in September 2003, near Dunhuang, China, and called the Gobi March. This inaugural event introduced trail running races to the expansive Asian country. Less than a year later, in July 2004, the Atacama Crossing was held in Chile, followed by the first Sahara Race in Egypt in September 2005. The Last Desert in Antarctica was inaugurated in January 2006. These events required competitors to traverse 250 kilometers of rough country terrain over seven days with only a place in a tent and water provided each day. They were supported by highly qualified staff, all with experience in hiking, marathons and ultramarathons, and a medical team specializing in emergency and wilderness medicine.
The four races combined to create the annual 4 Deserts Race Series, which is now widely recognized as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world. TIME magazine ranked the 4 Deserts series as one of the Top Ten Endurance Events in the world for two consecutive years.
In February 2008, a fifth race, called the Roving Race, sponsored by RacingThePlanet was added to the calendar. This race, of similar format, moved to a different location each year. The first edition, titled RacingThePlanet: Vietnam, was organized among the rice terraces of Sapa in northwest Vietnam. RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009 then routed competitors along the Fish River Canyon and Skeleton Coast of Namibia in Southern Africa. RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 took place in The Outback, while RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011 traversed the foothills of the Himalayas, RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 covered the Wadi Rum desert with a finish in the ancient city of Petra and most recently RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 started in the central highlands of Kerlingerfjoll and finished at the Blue Lagoon. The next Roving Race is scheduled for Madagascar in 2014.
As of September 2013, the 4 Deserts Races Series has organized 40 rough country events over ten years, with roughly 7,000 competitors from 100 countries who have participated in the 4 Deserts and Roving Races
Central to the 4 Deserts Race Series is its ethos to support local medical and education charities. The 4 Deserts has worked closely with the Y.L. Yang Education Foundation and Operation Smile in countries around the world raising more than US$750,000. Other charities supported include the Royal Flying Doctors in Australia, the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care in Hong Kong, the Child Welfare Scheme in Nepal and the Ocean Voyages Institute in Antarctica, to name a few. In addition, the 4 Deserts Race Series has raised money to support persons affected by natural disasters which have occurred in countries where its events are held, including major earthquakes in China and Chile. The 4 Deserts Race Series also encourages its competitors to raise money for charities through its events -- millions of U.S. dollars have been raised by competitors through the 4 Deserts Race Series.
Still headquartered in Hong Kong the 4 Deserts Race Series has a worldwide presence through its 16 representative offices for Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Aside from the core activity of organizing the endurance footraces, the 4 Deserts Race Series is affiliated with RacingThePlanet which sells high-end outdoor gear, clothing, nutrition and food products through a flagship store in Hong Kong and a distribution warehouse in the United Kingdom. Available in 7 languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese), RacingThePlanet is now Asia's largest online store offering 26,000 products from more than 250 brands of high-end outdoor gear, clothing and food.
The 4 Deserts Race Series continues to be a highly regarded and experienced organizer of remote footraces in the world.