As President of the 4 Deserts Race Series, Samantha Fanshawe has something of a natural flair for being a citizen of the planet. She was born to British parents in Peru, and went to school in Pakistan for a few years before the age of 11.
After graduating from the University of Leeds with a joint honors degree in Maths and Biology she took some time out to see the word, including working in Sydney, Australia, before returning to the United Kingdom for two years in business development of corporate clients in the recruitment industry. She was then transferred to Singapore with the same company for a regional management role before moving to Penang in Malaysia and then Hong Kong.
Along the way she mastered the art of dragon boat racing, competing in Dragon Boat World Championships. Sam is an all-around sportswoman, a keen squash player and fan of running, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking. It was while in Asia that she took up running a bit more seriously, starting with more than a dozen half-marathons, and then completing the Singapore Marathon, sprint triathlons, adventure races and ultramarathons such as the Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker, the Gobi March, Vibram HK 100, and Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset.
Sam volunteered in the Gobi March 2005 when it was held in the Turpan Basin in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of far western China. Despite it being the hottest event on record, she fell in love with the spirit of the 4 Deserts and soon came on board as a staff member. Sam has been to more than thirty 4 Deserts races in a management capacity.
Alina Brown has worked in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe and has a decade's worth of practical experience in sports and event management. A life-long competitive swimmer, Alina co-founded her high school women’s water polo team and later co-captained the women's varsity water polo team at Princeton University. As a water polo player and competitive triathlete at Princeton, Alina wrote an Anthropology thesis exploring adventure racing's status as a rite of passage. She also possesses a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Western Washington University.
Alina’s passion for sport and adventure has found its way around the globe. Her first job as a new graduate took her to northeast Thailand where she couldn’t be satisfied running half-kilometer laps through underdeveloped parkland. Instead, she took up Muay Thai and coached the Khon Kaen University men’s water polo team (becoming the only woman to have ever done so). While living abroad and working in other professional capacities, Alina obtained her surf lifesaving certification in Australia, ski-mountaineered Mt. Cook, New Zealand, summited Mount Kenya and trekked Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit. She has also served as the two-term president of a triathlon club and volunteered on several international adventure races.
Alina is an Ironman triathlete and multiple marathon, half-marathon and ultra-distance finisher. Her achievements include being named a USA Triathlon All-American (2006 & 2007) with top finishes as the overall champion of more than 5,000 competitors at the Seattle Danskin Women's Triathlon 2006; fourth woman overall at the Vibram Hong Kong 100km in 2011; and first woman overall at the Full Moon Desert Marathon 2012 in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Alina enjoys many athletic pursuits, including running, hiking, mountain biking, orienteering, rock climbing, scuba diving and yoga. Her certifications include First Aid and CPR.
Alina has worked on the management team at nearly twenty 4 Deserts events and is responsible for the 4 Deserts Race Series.
Riitta Hanninen’s passion for the great outdoors can be traced back to her childhood in the pristine environment of Finland. Thousands of lakes and vast forests lying just beyond her doorstep inspired a life of sports and a love of the outdoors.
After graduating with a degree in Tourism and Event Management from Jyvaskyla University of Applied Sciences, Riitta moved to Asia to pursue a career in international business and event management. She worked in corporate events for four years before moving into sports event management.
A resident of Hong Kong since 2004, Riitta has competed in numerous trail-running and action sport races including the Hong Kong Trailwalker (2005, 2008 and 2009), where she finished in the top three of the women's category on two occasions. She has also had successes in other races throughout Asia as a member of the champion mixed team in Taiwan in 2006 and as first and second runner-up in Hong Kong in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Riitta has also competed in many dragon boat and outrigger canoe races. She earned third place in the women’s local surfski category of Hong Kong’s Dragon Run in 2010.
Riitta has been on the management team at more than two dozen 4 Deserts events since she joined the company in 2010.
Event Manager Matthew Moroz joins the 4 Deserts Race Series team with an impressive running resume. Matt first participated in the 4 Deserts races as a competitor - he completed the Sahara Race 2010, Gobi March 2011 and Atacama Crossing 2013. He has also done many ultramarathons around the world and represented Team GB (Great Britain) in the 24 Hour World Championships.
Matt, a British national, has a background in Computer Science and Masters in Crime and Security Science from University College London. In addition to running, Matt loves most sports and anything outdoors, including mountaineering, squash, football, badminton, skiing, yoga, pilates and diving.
A bit of local knowledge is always handy when it comes to the tough task of devising a 4 Deserts course, but it’s a real bonus when the person charged with that responsibility actually lives in the area. As far as the Atacama Crossing 2014 goes, they don’t get much more local than Javier Aguilera.
Javier, who has worked with the event since its inception, lives slap bang in the heart of the desert, in San Pedro de Atacama. Born in the mining town of Chuquicamata, Javier studied public relations in Viņa del Mar and has worked in tourism for nearly two decades. The father of three loves climbing and has tackled nine peaks over 6,000 metres high.
Although Javier will be using his extensive local knowledge to draw up a breathtaking and challenging course for this year’s Atacama Crossing, competitors will be hoping he’s not incorporated too many of his beloved mountains into the mix. They’ll just have to wait and see.
Jaime Caceres Hidalgo loves music, the outdoors, adventure and astrology. Sounds like just the right kind of guy to have in charge of a desert camp, doesn’t he? Those passions aside, Jaime is also pretty switched on when it comes to the all important task of running an efficient and organized operation and supporting tired competitors out in the wilds.
Born in the Chilean capital of Santiago, Jaime studied computer programming and worked in the city for a while before coming to the conclusion that urban life wasn’t for him. Having spent all his childhood holidays in the country, he was drawn north and ultimately settled in San Pedro de Atacama. Married with two daughters, Jaime now farms and works as guide in the area. He’s managed our Atacama Crossing camp for the past six years, so competitors, staff and volunteers alike are in very good hands.
Argentinean Hernan Garcia works as an engineer in Florida in the United States. As experienced athlete in all things nautical, Hernan has sailed extensively around the world. He also has more than twenty-five marathons under his belt and has completed the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2009, the Gobi March (China) 2011 and the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2012 as well as undertaking a 10-day hike on the continental ice shelf in Patagonia.
He has worked as part of the course team at the Atacama Crossing 2013 and at the Sahara Race 2012. Iceland 2013 showed Hernan's all round skills with his Camp Manager role.
What else can possibly be said about England’s Tony Brammer? The 4 Deserts Club member from Manchester is a legend in his own lunchtime, a man whose sense of humour is seemingly as great as his determination to finish as far back in the field as possible. The father of two only set out to complete one event of the 4 Deserts series. He achieved that aim with the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2005 but carried on through the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2006, the Gobi March (China) 2007 and The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2008.
A company owner and consultant for Brammer Dixon, Tony is a man who sees the funny side of most things. The harder it gets, the more he’s likely to call on his sense of humour to see him through. Behind the humour and self-effacing exterior is a man dedicated to helping others. As a 4 Deserts competitor Tony raised money for a children’s charity called SAFE at Last, which helps young people who run away from home.
Tony has worked on the volunteer team at Namibia 2009, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2010 and 2012, Nepal 2011, the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2008 and 2012, the Gobi March 2013, Iceland 2013 and Sahara Race (Jordan) 2014. He is working at the Atacama Crossing 2014 as a Checkpoint Captain.
Keijiro Hamada of Japan
Rebecca Pattinson Women's ChampionDream team Mark Powered the last stage in his speedos