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Saturday 12 May 2012: Pre-race Stage Update
There was a sense of eager anticipation in Jordan’s capital city of Amman today as 144 competitors from 38 countries gathered for final preparations before the RacingThePlanet Roving Race kicks off tomorrow morning.
Countless reunions were taking place as competitors flooded into the briefing session at 8am. A total of 70 per cent of competitors are returning from past RacingThePlanet/ 4 Deserts events here in Jordan. It’s a huge proportion, which is making for an experienced field of athletes.
“It is truly amazing to have such a lot of returning competitors,” said Event Director Samantha Fanshawe. “There will be more than 100,000 kilometers of RacingThePlanet events at the start line in Wadi Rum.”
“It is so cool to see old friends,” added American competitor Charla Heimer, who comes to Jordan after competing in RacingThePlanet: Australia in 2010 and as a volunteer at the Sahara Race 2009. “The Italians who don't speak a word of English welcomed me with the biggest hug.”
Once the briefing by RacingThePlanet staff ended it was time for the mandatory medical forms and check-in. Bag weight was the hot topic of the day and perhaps none impressed as much as New Zealand’s Hamish Travers—who managed to squeeze everything into a 5.5 kilo pack.
However, not all of this year’s contenders have packed light. “I have never seen so many heavy packs,” marveled event photographer Zandy Mangold, as he surveyed the scene around him at the check-in.
Stan Lee of Canada took the prize for the heaviest pack of the day, at a sizable 15.0 kilos. But one gets the sense that Lee knows exactly what he’s doing, he’s successfully completed 25 marathons and 10 RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events.
Lee is part of an impressive group of RacingThePlanet legends at this year’s Roving Race, including Jesse Yoo of South Korea who is back for his 16th RacingThePlanet event and Iranian-born Ashkan Mokhtari who takes on his 11th challenge. There are also 15 members of the 4 Deserts Club taking to the Jordanian sands.
As newcomer Zenia Inselmann stood waiting for the buses at noon, she confided, “I am starting to feel nervous.” But perhaps the Dane was being somewhat modest; she was the first placed female in the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset 2011.
Adding to the wide range of nationalities taking part in this year's race are a great variety of ages. The youngest competitor is 22-year old James Gaston of the United States who is aiming to complete all five RacingThePlanet events in 2012. The most senior competitor is Moo Woong Lee of Korea, a 68-year old and another supremely experienced racer—this will be his eighth RacingThePlanet event.
Once bags were weighed and forms filled in, competitors were eager to get started. They all boarded buses at noon and set out on a five-hour journey from city streets to the remote wilderness of classic Lawrence of Arabia country.
Tonight’s setting is ‘King’s Campsite’ at the entrance to a valley in Wadi Rum. As everyone enjoyed their final ‘normal’ meal before tomorrow’s kick off, they were treated to spectacular views of the sunset illuminating the valley.
Tomorrow’s opening stage, dubbed Lawrence’s Playground, is a 39-kilometer journey through sandy terrain. The course is moderate and includes an ancient Bedouin cemetery, villages and dried riverbeds. In preparation for an early start of 8am, competitors retired to their Bedouin tents early to enjoy their first night out under the dazzling desert stars.
Sunday 13 May 2012: Stage 1 Update
Italians Take The Lead at RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012
It has been a triumphant day for Italy’s Paolo Barghini. The 51-year-old won the first stage of the annual RacingThePlanet ‘Roving Race’ against the stunning backdrop of Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert.
Barghini crossed the finish line of the 38.8-kilometer course in a time of 03:47:10. A former champion of the Sahara Race, he is a RacingThePlanet veteran having completed six events in the series.
Following close behind in second position was Hong Kong-based Peter Lee with a time of 03:59:10.
Coming in third place and triumphantly winning the women’s division was another Italian, Katia Figini. The 36-year-old effortlessly completed the course in an impressive time of 04:09:57. Katia has a strong sports resume including a win at the Sahara Race 2010 and is emerging as a force to be reckoned with here in Jordan.
It was a day of breezy weather conditions and stunning scenery. The atmosphere at the starting line was relaxed and friendly, perhaps because of the great number of people who have participated in RacingThePlanet events before. It could have also been due to the highly social setting of the campsite, with beautifully-crafted Bedouin tents with open fronts and a large campfire at the center—complete with rugs pulled up around it.
The general mood was upbeat and positive as competitors surged over the startline and onto a course through the amazing rock formations of the Wadi Rum desert. The weathered stone cliffs looked like they were melting under the clear sunny skies, as temperatures ranged from 28 to 32 degrees Celsius.
What made the course challenging for many was the soft sand alternating with harder packed areas. “It was great, but tough,” said Denmark’s Martin Moisen. “The first 20 kilometers was runnable; the last section from Checkpoint 2 to Checkpoint 3 was way too soft, but it was an amazing course.”
RacingThePlanet veteran David Smale added, “I was in Jordan ten years ago, and I have always wanted to come back to see Wadi Rum in the light. As long as I make two stages, I will be happy.”
Another highlight of the day were the number of camels wandering around the course, peacefully standing against the incredible scenery and gazing at the curious sight of more than 140 humans battling their way over the sands.
Three competitors needed to withdraw as the day unfolded. 4 Deserts Club member Alain Wehbi had to stop at the second checkpoint because of a recurring knee injury, but he remained in high spirits. Two other RacingThePlanet veterans, James Pethigal and Inan Koesker, also withdrew and headed back to camp.
Of the teams taking part, The MARCH and Lady Crazies continue with all of their members still in the competition. Fredericton Loyalists and iLupi Team have decided to pull out of the team competition and continue the event as individuals.
There were particularly impressive performances today, such as Hong Kong-based Lucy Marriott and Karen Wei, Scotland's Paul Skipworth and Alasdair Morrison, and Canada’s Blain Davis.
There were also comical quotes as competitors came into the various checkpoints and chatted with staff and volunteers. One person appeared at the second checkpoint and asked, “Is this the manicure/pedicure station?” He then admitted to have been following a “wonderful smelling woman,” and dashed off before anyone had a chance to note down his name. The mystery man thus remains an elusive comic of the race.
By 6pm, the final competitors were crossing the finish line with Korean’s Eun Hwa Lee, Jisung Yoo and Hee Kyoung Chun marking the close of the day.
Competitors are now resting at the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ campsite positioned by a sand dune and overlooking the valley. It will be another early night for all, as tomorrow’s stage, dubbed the ‘Wadi Rum Rock Formations’ is a moderate to difficult, 36.6-kilometer course around many rock formations and finishing in a narrow canyon.
Monday 14 May 2012: Stage 2 Update
Competition Heats Up in Grueling Second Stage
Italy’s Paolo Barghini has sustained his lead of the Roving Race 2012, finishing the second stage in a time of 03:55:17.
He was followed by German competitor Rafael Fuchsgruber who came in just six minutes later with a time of 04:01:42. Peter Lee of the UK took third position today, although his overall time has placed him in second overall ranking.
The great upset of the day was in the women’s division, when Lucy Marriott of Hong Kong overtook women’s leader Katia Figini of Italy between the third and fourth checkpoints. Marriott won the women’s division of the Atacama Crossing 2006.
This second stage, dubbed the ‘Wadi Rum Rock Formations’, proved to be a challenging one for its copious patches of soft sand along the course. Even the hardiest 4 Deserts veterans were finding it slow going at times, although the remarkable scenery was helping lift moods. As Hong Kong-based banker Jude Ryan commented, "I know I say this every time, but seriously I think this is the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen.”
It was remarkably starry last night and cooler than the first evening. When the sun appeared at dawn it transformed the entire landscape, making the rocks and cliffs take on a mystical, electric red glow.
People gathered for the 7am start as music played and numerous competitors danced along to the Bedouin melodies. Then, all 139 competitors set out onto the 36.6-kilometer stage, with leaders Paolo Barghini and Katia Figini wearing the yellow leader’s bibs.
The overcast weather conditions made for a wonderful start in the morning, keeping the course fairly cool until approximately 10:30am. By this point, 110 competitors had already arrived at Checkpoint 2, having cleared the most difficult part of the day and the large hill after the first checkpoint, under cool conditions.
By 10:30am, the clouds were burnt off by the hot sun and conditions rapidly heated up. Today was a particularly sandy course, and large patches of soft sand making the average pace slower than normal.
As Charla Heimer of the United States pointed out at the second checkpoint, “I compare ultrarunning to giving birth – when you’re there you say you’ll never do it again, and then you sign up for another. I guess you could say it’s worth all the pain.”
John Williamson of South Africa meanwhile claimed, ”I may be giving up surfing to stay away from all the sand.”
Others were finding smart ways to overcome the difficulty of the soft sand. As John Williamson pointed out, “It’s much easier following footsteps in the sand in front of you.”
By the second checkpoint, our elusive comedian of the race (mentioned in yesterday’s update) was identified as Brian Lang, a Canadian based in the United Arab Emirates. This time, he arrived asking, “Is this the Swedish massage station?”
In the team’s section, all competitors are still in the race but many have now opted to run individually. The three women of the team Lady Crazies are all still going strong, but today decided to compete as individuals. This now leaves only one team, The March, still competing as a collective.
By 6pm the final competitor, Emily Weller of the UK, had crossed the finish line. People are now resting in ‘The Hidden Canyon’ campsite on a sand dune between two valleys. They are resting their legs, updating blogs in the cyber tent and tending to blisters.
Tomorrow’s stage, known as ‘Camel Racing in Twaissah’, takes competitors through a narrow canyon, then along a white salt flat by a camel-racing course and past the village of Twaissah. The 36.9-kilometer journey will finish in the Kharaza Desert.
Tuesday 15 March 2012: Stage 3 Update
Intense Competition Emerges On Stunning Third Day
Italian trainer Paolo Barghini has held onto his lead of RacingThePlanet: Jordan2012, finishing the third day’s stage with a time of 03:46:41.
He was just minutes ahead of Germany's Rafael Fuchsgruber, who took second position in 03:47:36, with Peter Lee of Hong Kong just seconds behind and crossing the line with a time of 03:48:02. Fuchsgruber commented that his strategy at this point is to, “stay as close to Paolo as possible.” Meanwhile, Peter Lee said to Paolo Barghini, “Could you ask that Italian bird to slow down?”
He was referring to the remarkable Italian runner Katia Figini, who won the women’s division for the stage, coming over the finish line in 04:29:21. She managed to fend off strong competition from Lucy Marriott of Hong Kong who came in just behind with 04:37:29. Natalia Sierant of Poland took third position.
It was an upbeat day for the field, with many competitors coming into their stride on a course of hard-packed sand.
The day opened with 135 competitors taking to the start line and setting out on a course that wound through the campsite and then straight through a canyon. There was a huge flurry of photo taking, with the Korean contingents taking a great number of photos. A Jordanian runner also appeared at the start line, running with the competitors for the first 10-kilomters just for fun.
The course, named ‘Camel Racing in Twaissah’, left the Wadi Rum Desert and entered the second desert of the course, the Kharaza Desert. Competitors went past a camel-racing track where they hold huge, competitive races twice a year. It was an undeniably beautiful day of racing through real Indiana Jones country. There was a narrow canyon, rock jumping and moving through sandy white canyons and over hard, white salt flats. The course also wound along a path through the small, local village of Twaissah.
“I feel fantastic!” exclaimed Eva Rona of the United States, after coming through a difficult day yesterday. “I have to keep reminding myself to look up,” she added. “The course is so beautiful."
It was also a reaffirming day for Denmark’s Catherine Due. “For me, personally, today was the day I discovered why people do this,” she said. “This is my first race and the first two days were really tough, but today I found myself on top of things and running, and today the scenery was so incredibly beautiful and the scenery was changing all the time. So it all kind of made sense to me today.”
“It's a runner's course today,” said former Olympics wrestler Gabriel Szerda, who was enjoying the hard-packed sand and is currently in fourth place overall.
There were two withdrawals during the stage: Usama Malik of the United States who withdrew at Checkpoint 3 due to a pre-existing ITB injury and Emily Weller of the United Kingdom.
Competitors are now in the ‘Sunset Paradise’ campsite on a vast sand dune in the midst of the Kharaza Desert. Tomorrow’s stage is named ‘The Rock Bridge’ and follows a 36.9-kilometer route into the Humaima Desert.
Wednesday 16 May 2012: Stage 4 Update
Competition Heats Up
The fourth day of the 250-kilometer Roving Race in the breathtaking desert landscape of Jordan has concluded with an extremely competitive field leading the pack.
Paolo Barghini of Italy has held onto his lead, completing the 39.3-kilometer course with a time of 04:01:42. With this being his seventh RacingThePlanet event, Paolo was in high spirits by the end of the day, saying: “Thank you to RacingThePlanet for inspiring me to give up my life as a medical doctor to pursue my passion.”
The Italian was closely followed by Peter Lee, who edged past Germany’s Rafael Fuchsgruber during the day. Peter is a personal trainer based in Hong Kong and originally hails from the United Kingdom. He didn’t seem fazed by the day’s course at all, comparing it to a run in the park. “The Campsites are really scenic here, amazing backdrops,” he added.
Rafael Fuchsgruber came in third over the finish line with a time of 04:04:06, followed by the US-based Australian Gabriel Szerda in 04:19:17.
The closely fought race between the two leaders of the women’s division is continuing to play out. Katia Figini of Italy and Lucy Marriott of Hong Kong came over the finish line together, with Lucy Marriott finishing just milliseconds ahead of Katia with a time of 04:36:20.
Stage 4 got underway at 7am sharp with 133 starters heading out over the line. Named ‘Sand Dune in the Khazara Desert’, it was a course that once again moved through soft areas of sand as well as through a tunnel and into the Humaima Desert. The day saw a noticeable increase in temperatures during the day, which matched with the open, non-shady terrain, made for a difficult course for many competitors.
A long uphill section before the second checkpoint proved to be particularly challenging for many. “A little too much uphill” said Denmark’s Martin Groth-Poulsen as he pulled into the checkpoint. On the contrary, Martin Moisen also of Denmark said, “It was runnable, good, what I’ve been waiting for”.
When we asked Hong Kong-based Denis Kelliher how he was faring he said, “Other than looking like Papa Smurf and feeling like Papa Smurf – good!” He was indeed wearing some wonderful white compression shorts with a white shirt and blue gaiters on his feet.
By the time Canadian Chris Aaen came to the checkpoint he had just four words, “I can’t wait for winter.”
There were a total of two withdrawals today: Gary Cambridge and Darren Nichols, both of Canada. Both withdrew at the second checkpoint, and are doing well.
One highlight of the day was a local runner who started the race again today. He has been working as a driver at the event and is a very successful marathon runner in the country. He ran from the Start to Checkpoint 3 and had the lead the entire way—complete with bare feet.
As everyone rests in the Wadi Ahaimer campsite at the top of the Wadi Ahaimer canyon and enjoys the cool breeze wafting through the site, they are all mentally preparing for tomorrow epic Long March, an 89.4-kilometer, overnight stage that will take competitors through some of the most extraordinary scenery of the race yet.
Checkpoints 1-4 for tomorrow’s stage have already left the camp to prepare the checkpoints for tomorrow. The race begins at 7am and heads down through the canyon and then up into the Wadi Gharandal canyon to a climb up to the Turkish Road and an end above the ancient city of Petra. The race will begin at 7am sharp.
Thursday 17 May 2012: Stage 5, Mid-Stage Update
Changes At The Front of The Long March
German competitor Rafael Fuchsgruber has pulled ahead and won the 89.4-kilometer Long March of the Roving Race in a time of 11:09:09. He crossed the finish line at the ancient city of Petra just ahead of overall race leader Paolo Barghini, who crossed the finish line in a time of 11:10:17.
Hong Kong’s Peter Lee had slightly lost his position at the front as a result of tearing his backpack yesterday; he needed to do some repairs at the fourth checkpoint. He nonetheless came over the line in a joint third position with Gabriel Szerda with a time of 11:18:25.
In the women’s field, Katia Figini earned fifth place overall on the stage, with an excellent performance of 11:38:00. Lucy Marriott had been fighting nausea all day, and by Checkpoint 7 said she would be walking and taking it easy for the rest of the stage.
The next competitors to appear over the finish line were New Zealander Hamish E. Travers and Johan Steene of Stockholm.
The day began with clear skies, and temperatures steadily picking up throughout the day. There was a sense of excited trepidation as 131 competitors set off across the start line of this massive fifth stage. The course is fairly hilly and includes some big climbs, particularly the elevation before Checkpoint 5, which involves a 700-meter ascent.
The first task, however, was the incredible canyon from the start line to the second checkpoint. Competitors began by traveling for one kilometer along the top of the canyon before heading down into its very heart, where they crossed a riverbed and walked between the slim canyon walls for nearly 20-kilometers. According to the local Bedouin people, no races have ever gone through the gorge before, making it a RacingThePlanet first.
From the depths of the Earth, they then went up to great heights. There were astonishing views awaiting competitors along the Turkish road from Checkpoint 4 to 6. From here, one could see mountains stretching away for endless miles, with clear views all the way to Israel.
By Checkpoint 5 there was a chorus of “Happy Birthday” awaiting overall race leader Paolo Barghini as the now 52-year old shot into view. Barghini admitted that he wished he was spending the day with his son, but appeared appreciative of the collective singing session.
With the race leaders now resting their limbs at the Bedouin Campsite, there are still 116 competitors still pressing on with the stage. An extraordinary sunset has just illuminated the desert, proving some mystical inspiration for those still on the course.
The rest of the field will be racing throughout the night with the moonlight and illuminated markers showing the way. A second update will be published when the final competitors conclude the stage.
Friday 18 May 2012: Stage 5 Update
Immense Long March Concludes Without Withdrawals
It has been an historic end to The Long March today in the remarkable setting of a canyon overlooking Jordan’s ancient city of Petra. Perhaps it was the huge proportion of RacingThePlanet veterans taking part in this year’s Roving Race, but when The Long March concluded today all 131 of the competitors who set out on the stage came over the finish line.
This was a compelling performance by the entire field as the course was not only a long one at 87.6-killometers, but included many hills and hot racing conditions yesterday.
The first to come over the finish line on Thursday afternoon was German competitor Rafael Fuchsgruber who finished with a time of 11:09:48. He crossed the finish line just one minute ahead of overall race leader Paolo Barghini.
Barghini now looks set to be the race champion, with just the short course remaining tomorrow. When asked to explain his strategy, the Italian said, “My strategy was to win the first stage with some lead, and then again in the second stage and then to control the race from there. Yesterday I paced very easily–I could have done two hours ahead of what I did. At Checkpoint 4, I was running with Peter and then I decided to go harder. At the end, I left the stage to Rafael because he’s a good friend of mine.”
Hong Kong’s Peter Lee had slightly lost his position at the front of the pack as a result of tearing his backpack yesterday; he was then given a penalty as he had to replace the bag. He nonetheless came over the line in a joint third position with Gabriel Szerda with a time of 11:18:25—and despite his penalty time of 30 minutes, still holds third place overall.
In the women’s field, Katia Figini was in extremely strong form. The Italian took fifth place overall on the stage, with an excellent performance of 11:38:00. The next competitors to appear over the finish line were New Zealander Hamish Travers and Johan Steene of Stockholm.
A large proportion of the field continued to race throughout the night and into the early hours of this morning. At Checkpoint 5 there was a wonderful reunion as two of the teams that had originally set out on the race together, banded together once more. Team Lady Crazies and the Fredericton Loyalists unofficially joined together, along with 4 Deserts Club member Stan Lee. They called themselves the “Lady Crazy Loyalists featuring Stan Lee” and continued all the way to the finish line together.
There was much applause and support at the finish line as the weary yet overjoyed competitors arrived. It was a particularly emotional moment when South Koreans Junhyeok Yang and Eun Hwa Lee finished together in 28 hours and 28 minutes. They had been battling the heat throughout the week and were applauded by the camp when they came in.
The last competitor to cross the line was Sandy Kondo of Japan, who finished the stage in a time of 30 hours and 49 minutes. Sandy was not able to finish the Sahara Race 2010, so this was a great moment for her.
“Even though it was very difficult, it was very enjoyable,” she said as she came in. “[Women’s Leader] Katia Figini is in my same tent, so it is like heads and tails... I really appreciate everyone's support. The sweepers were so patient and the Bedouins with the camels cheered for me and sang to me the whole way.”
Competitors are now resting at the Bedouin Campsite perched high on a cliff overlooking Petra. It’s a clear and sunny day with 190-degree views, and competitors are in great spirits. Some are sleeping and relaxing, others are socializing in their tents. Others meanwhile are digging into their final stashes of food, finishing the items they had so carefully prepared at the beginning of the week.
There is also a steady stream of competitors coming in and out of the Cybertent, as emails and blog comments pour in from family and friends across the globe. There are many emails coming in from former competitors who have been congratulating their friends and eagerly following the race.
Everyone is excited about tomorrow’s final “icing on the cake” stage, as course director Carlos Garcia Prieto describes it. This short, 5.6-kilometer course will take them into the most stunning scenery of the entire race, the grounds of the ancient city of Petra. They will run through the narrow gorge of the Siq and then finish in the famed Treasury—concluding the race as true desert champions. The course starts at 6am sharp.
Saturday 19 May 2012: Stage 6 Update
Paolo Barghini Wins RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012
“I came here to win and I did the job,” said the Italian. “It’s nice to win this race finishing at Petra, another fantastic race.”
In a close second place was German competitor Rafael Fuchsgruber who completed the course with an overall time of 27:48:53. “That is the best race, the best week I’ve ever had,” he said.
Briton Peter Lee took third spot with 28:18:04, and thoroughly appreciated the setting of the finish line: “I just love the old romanticism of Lawrence of Arabia–I watched it as a kid and grew up with it,” he said. “And Indiana Jones at Petra–what a way to see it!”
The women’s champion is Katia Figini, who came in fifth place overall, completing the course with a time of 29:37:03. “This course is fantastic, this desert is fantastic,” said the Italian. “Maybe the best desert that I have ever seen.”
The MARCH celebrated their win—the only one of the four teams taking part to remain as a group by the end of the stage. Team-member Sophie Collett said, “It's an amazing race. It was the hardest long day I've ever done. It was a very difficult race to do as a team. I think we're all very excited that we finished. And this was the most beautiful finish ever."
It was a phenomenal final stage for competitors today. They set out from the final campsite at 6:20am under perfectly clear skies and cool morning temperatures.
"Everyone did extremely well,” said Event Director Samantha Fanshawe, as everyone gathered at the starting line. “This was possibly the lowest withdrawal rate of any of our races despite the difficulty of the course. And we're now excited for everyone to do their victory lap, running down The Siq to finish in front of The Treasury in the world renowned UNESCO heritage site of Petra."
It was a swift 5.6-kilometer course that took them through mesmerizing landscape and into the ancient grounds of Petra. They followed the course through the walls of the Siq, and into one of the most stunning finish lines of RacingThePlanet history: the Treasury, an exquisite building carved out of a sandstone rock face.
It was an emotional end to what has been one of the toughest but most spectacular of all Roving Races. “This is one the best races I've ever done,” said Italy’s Marco Vola. “One of the most difficult and unforgettable. I'm ready to do it all over again."
“Amazing finish,” said Brazilian running legend Carlos Dias. “The formation of the mountains is beautiful.”
“I was in tears,” said 28-year old Emily Weller who works with the Forestry Commission in England. “It was the most amazing walking—we almost did some sort of pilgrimage. It was very cool.”
For many, there was the great swell of emotion that comes with finishing your first RacingThePlanet challenge—Colin Lyall of the United Kingdom has tried twice before, and made an unforgettable finish here in Petra today. “I can't think of words to describe it,” said the 49-year old. “It's probably the most grueling, challenging, difficult and rewarding thing I've ever done. And the pain is very quickly forgotten.”
It was one of the hardest courses I've ever done,” said first-time RacingThePlanet competitor Mary Nielsen. “This is my first stage race and I can see the addictive quality but I'll be happy to take a shower and get the pack off.”
“It was great,” said Gus Murray of Denmark. “I think it was really hard but now all you think about is the good things—it was amazing.”
There was a triumphant end as Cynthia Lao was the final person to come over the finish line to loud cheers and applause.
Competitors are now heading back to their hotels for showers, resting and feasting. There will be an awards banquet this evening.
(19 May 2012, Petra, Jordan) – Paolo Barghini has made a triumphant win today in the ancient city of Petra, completing the 250-kilometer Roving Race with a time of 27:11:03.
“My strategy was to win the first stage with a good lead, and then again in the second stage, and then to control the race from there” said the 52-year-old endurance runner who hails from Italy’s Tuscany region. “It went just as I thought,” he added. “After winning the 2009 Sahara Race under the Pyramids of Giza, it’s nice to win this race in Petra!”
Germany’s Rafael Fuchsgruber kept pace with Barghini for much of the six-day course and earned second place with an overall time of 27:48:53. “This is the best race, the best week I’ve ever had,” said the 50-year-old. In third place was Britain’s Peter Lee, a Hong Kong-based personal trainer, who finished in a time of 28:18:04.
Women’s winner Katia C. Figini put in an exceptional performance with a finish time of 29:37:03. The 36-year-old Italian runner, whose resume includes first place in the women's division of the Sahara Race 2010, said, “This course is fantastic. This desert is fantastic–maybe the best desert that I have ever seen.” Lucy Marriott of the United Kingdom finished second in the women’s division with a time of 31:12:07 and Poland’s Natalia Sierant in third position at 34:44:24.
It was one of the most stunning settings of any Roving Race, with a diverse range of terrain from hills to canyons, cliffs, sand dunes, gorges and ancient city grounds. The race opened in Wadi Rum and moved through four deserts before finishing in Petra.
The combination of challenging terrain and several days of hot temperatures made it a particularly grueling race for the teams. Only one of the four original teams taking part was able to conclude as a collective—the others opted to finish as individuals.
The MARCH, with members Blain Davis, Sophie Collett and Cameron Lawes, emerged as the team champions, proving their exceptional teamwork. “It was the hardest long day I've ever done,” said Collett. “It was a very difficult race to do as a team, and we're all very excited that we finished. This was the most beautiful finish ever.”
Despite the difficulty of the course, there was one the lowest withdrawals rates of any RacingThePlanet event—only 12 of the approximately 150 starters were unable to finish. This may be a result of the experienced nature of this year’s field; a massive 70% of competitors had competed in previous RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts races.
“Everyone did extremely well,” commented Event Director, Samantha Fanshawe, as competitors gathered for the historic final stage. “This was possibly the lowest withdrawal rate of any of our races despite the difficulty of the course. And [it was an incredible] victory lap, running down The Siq to finish in front of The Treasury in the world renowned UNESCO heritage site of Petra.”
Next year, the Roving Race moves from the heart of the Middle East, to one of the most pristine islands of the Northern Hemisphere. The 2013 Roving Race starts on August 4th amid the geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers and green hills of Iceland.