Click the event name for full details.
    Sahara Race Jordan 8 Mar 2015
    Gobi March China 31 May 2015
    RacingThePlanet: Ecuador Ecuador 26 Jul 2015
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Staff & Volunteers

1 of 6Mary Gadams
United States, Resident in Hong Kong

2 of 6Samantha Fanshawe
Event Director
United Kingdom, Resident in Hong Kong

3 of 6Alina Brown
Event Manager
United States, Resident in Hong Kong

4 of 6Riitta Hanninen
Event Manager
Finland, Resident in Hong Kong

5 of 6Carlos Garcia Prieto
Course Director
Spain, Resident in Italy

6 of 6Ross Burrough
Camp Manager
United Kingdom, Resident in Hong Kong

Mary K. Gadams founded RacingThePlanet in 1996 and the 4 Deserts in 2002. She had worked in investment banking and strategy before this, with prior work experience including her work as a global strategist in the chairman's and restructuring office of the Samsung Group in Seoul, Korea. Mary worked on special projects including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, venture capital and global strategy. She also spent seven years in investment banking in the United States.

Mary has lived in six countries and been involved in a significant number of sporting events. She was team captain of three Eco-Challenge teams, with a best finish of sixth in the ESPN X Games, and has completed dozens of marathons, including the Boston Marathon (three times) and the Marathon des Sables multiple times—with a personal best in the women's division of 26:30. Mary’s ultra marathon experience spans the Western States Endurance Run (100 miles), the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race, the London to Brighton Race (55 miles), the Hong Kong Oxfam Trailwalker (100km), the Texas Trail Run (50 miles), the JFK 50-Miler, the Atacama Crossing and the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset. She has also made it to the summits of Mt. Toubkal in Morocco, Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, Japan’s Mt. Fuji (twice), Mt. Fansipan in Vietnam and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Mary earned a Master's Degree from London Business School and is on the Committee for the Hike for Hospice in Hong Kong. Current projects see Mary working closely with RacingThePlanet’s burgeoning online store in Europe and Asia and developing the company’s freeze dried food business, Expedition Foods. She and her husband are also in the midst of regenerating a native rainforest by planting 30,000 trees.

There have been 34 events in the first 9 years of RacingThePlanet and Mary has been at every single event.

As Vice President of RacingThePlanet Events, 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 RacingThePlanet and soon came on board as a staff member. Sam has been to a total of 15 RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events, 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 womenâs 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.

Alinaâs 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 couldnât be satisfied running half-kilometer laps through underdeveloped parkland. Instead, she took up Muay Thai and coached the Khon Kaen University menâs 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 Nepalâs 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 more than ten RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events and is responsible for the 4 Deserts 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 for being 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 twice. She has also had success in other races in Asia having been 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 in Asia. 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 10 RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events since she joined RacingThePlanet in 2010.

As the course director for RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012, architect Carlos Garcia Prieto’s final product looks a bit different from those he creates in his day job.

Originally from Spain, Carlos currently works in Italy as an architect. That is, when he isn't running or organising races. Carlos completed his first RacingThePlanet event at the Gobi March (China) 2007 and has gone on to complete the 4 Deserts with The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2008. A long-time runner, he has also completed Marathon des Sables, UTMB, Grand Raid Reunion and RacingThePlanet: Vietnam 2008.

Multilingual Carlos’ behind-the-scenes experience includes working as the course director for the Sahara Race 2009, 2010, 2011 and RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 and as a member of the Atacama Crossing 2009 course team. What does this RacingThePlanet enthusiast say he loves most about the events?

“In the 4 Deserts you are never alone. You can run alone, but you will always find someone that will give you a hand.”

Ross Burrough joins RacingThePlanet from a striking career in event management and corporate social responsibility. The British national worked in Botswana for seven years with the Unchartered Africa Safari Company, a leading luxury travel operator of Southern Africa.

Ross worked in many elements of the company’s operations, as an ecotourism field guide and wildlife photographer, to several years spent as operations manager where he oversaw a staff of more than 200 people. With Ross at the helm, the company won numerous awards including the ‘Best Ecological Safari Property’ and various awards with The Good Safari Guide. The Brit’s background also spans voluntary work; he spent time with the Nepal division of the UK-based charity Mondo Challenge.

Most recently, Ross worked as Events Manager for the English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong. He has a love for the world, having earned a BSc in Geography with University College, London. In addition to certificates in First Aid, Emergency Care Training and Trauma Life Support, Ross has been the recipient of a Royal Humane Society Award.