By Dave Flanagan
The resolve of 4 Deserts competitors is plain to see.
As anyone who has run to raise money will tell you, a charitable cause is a powerful motivator and can often mean the difference between failing and finishing. And, in a world bursting with special fund-raising events and charitable challenges, the 4 Deserts still ranks as one of the hardest but most rewarding ways in which to make a positive contribution to your community.
There are many and varied causes being backed by competitors this year, but now there's another force drawing the entrants from around the world to San Pedro de Atacama: the desire to do something to show support to the country and people affected by last week’s earthquake.
As the scale of the tragedy became apparent, the deliberation began at RacingThePlanet’s headquarters in Hong Kong. Was running the race after such a catastrophe appropriate? Was it safe, or even feasible given the likely transportation issues? But, as contact was re-established with Chile, the message coming from friends and colleagues there was clear – the event should go ahead if possible.
The economic benefits to the community of San Pedro aside, the Atacama Crossing 2010 represents an opportunity to support a wonderful country that is currently in mourning. The event will be a tribute to everything that is great about Chile – its people, its astonishing landscapes and its indomitable spirit. And now there’s also the prospect of raising funds to help the disaster relief effort through the link RacingThePlanet has established with the international charity Habitat for Humanity.
Yes, the journeys competitors are making to Chile this year are more complex and stressful than is the norm, but each knows their hardships are nothing in comparison to those suffered by victims of the earthquake. It takes a lot to stop a 4 Deserts competitor at the best of times, and a few transport hassles are proving to be no obstacle when there’s a chance to make a real difference to the lives of others, both in their own communities and in Chile.