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Breaking News 4
Sat, 30 August 2014 at 20:00
Competitors, volunteers and staff left the town of Diego Suarez for Camp 1 at 15:15, driving through town and along the beautiful northern coastline. Participants arrived at Camp 1 at 16:15 to a beachfront setting and a local Malagasy group of musicians, dancers and singers. The enthusiasm was contagious as competitors enjoyed posing for photos at the start line banner with their respective nationality flags.
Breaking News 3
Sat, 30 August 2014 at 13:00
The RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 Competitor Briefing kicked off poolside at The Grand Hotel at 9:00am with 4 Deserts Race Series Founder Mary Gadams, President of Events Samantha Fanshawe, Event Director Riitta Hanninen and Medical Director Avi Patil welcoming participants to the seventh annual Roving Race and providing information about rhe upcoming week. Competitor Check-In is now on the go. Some new competitors, including Lauren Starr of the United States, Ashley Burke of Australia and Nanna Okubo of Japan were smiling with nervous excitement, while some relaxed 'old-hat' veterans like Belinda Holdsworth Wikstrom of the United Kingdom, Harold Cohen and Charla Heimer of the United States were feeling relaxed. Aside from the mandatory gear the variety of food and equipment for this race is ranging from large marshmallow rice puff desserts worth 600 calories each, to Yoshizo Yokoyama in his cow costume, which he has worn for all his previous 4 Deserts races. The weather is sunny with blue skies and temperatures of 28 degrees Celcius in the northern tip of Madagascar at the moment.
Breaking News 2
Fri, 29 August 2014 at 21:00
Our contingent of 36 volunteers and medical staff who have supported us at over 100 previous 4 Deserts and Roving Races, are now ready to welcome our competitors to RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014! Check-in for the 4 Deserts Club Members has begun and there's an atmosphere of eagerness, and excitement. Expectedly, first in line at the check-in were Martyn Sawyer and Harold Roberts. Other familiar faces include Derek Kwik and Ash Mokhtari. The person with the heaviest pack so far is Stan Lee weighing in at 19.5kg(!) and includes 6 cans of Coke. The lightest is 6kg, but weigh-ins are still continuing!
Breaking News 1
Thu, 28 August 2014 at 14:00
There are just 3 days(!) until 234 competitors representing 43 countries around the world will be lining up for the start of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar. Many competitors, volunteers, doctors, media and staff have been spotted around the host town of Diego Suarez at the northern tip of the island, with more arriving today and tomorrow. Take a sneak preview at some photos from the course this week to see what is in store along the 250 kilometers of the race. http://www.4deserts.com/beyond/madagascar/photos-52-0
Stage 1: Breaking News 2
Sun, 31 August 2014 at 13:30
The first competitor through the Stage 1 finish line at RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 was professional athlete Ryan Sandes of South Africa at 11:09. Following Sandes was Wataru Iino of Japan at 11:14 and Ralph Crowley of the United States at 11:34. The first female across the finish line was Huang LingYun of China at 13:01. Competitors are steadily arriving to Camp 2, where a fabulous beach of white sand awaits their arrival.
Stage 1: Breaking News 1
Sun, 31 August 2014 at 09:00
Competitors began to rise at Camp 1 at 05:00, well before the sun, in anticipation of Stage 1 of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014. There was plenty of time for competitors to prepare themselves for the 08:00 start. Breakfast was enjoyed and many start line photos were taken. At 07:30, President of Events Samantha Fanshawe welcomed everyone to their first morning race briefing. Today's course starts with a course rating of "moderate difficulty" along the beach towards Checkpoint 1. After the first checkpoint, the trail takes competitors inland a couple of kilometers. The bay of Diego remains in view until competitors reach today's finish line at Camp 2. With only a few minutes left to the starting horn, the chief of the region addressed competitors with an appreciative message and wished participants well on their seven-day journey. Twenty local athletes representing local running clubs also joined the Madagascar competitors for the first 9.5 kilometers of the race. Event Director Riitta Hanninen gave a 10-second countdown and at exactly 08:00 the competitors were off. Jin Feibao of China, Paul Borlinha of Canada, Andrew Fargus of the United Kingdom and Ryan Sandes of South Africa were first out the start, followed by the Prendiville clan from Australia and Hiroki Kimura from Japan.
Stage 2: Breaking News 4
Mon, 1 September 2014 at 08:30
"For today's 229 competitors the setting of the start line for Stage 2 of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 was on the white sand beach and turquoise blue waters of Camp 1. In the course briefing this morning 4 Deserts Event President, Samantha Fanshaw explained that the trail would start along the pristine beach for first few kilometers, which will lead them to the baobab forest just after Checkpoint 1. The competitors will experience their first river crossing today, which might actually bring the competitors some momentary relief from the heat. All the competitors were smiling and happy as they started the race today. When the competitors left the start at 07:00 it was 24 degrees Celsius and sunny. The temperature yesterday reached a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius, and it is expected to be the same today."
Stage 2: Breaking News 3
Mon, 1 September 2014 at 23:30
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar Stage 2 finishers were cheered into Camp 3 by a crowd of more than 200 Malagasy locals who gathered together to view the action of the day. Singing, dancing and drumming created a festive atmosphere for competitors entering camp after completing 46.3 kilometers on today’s course. Sandy Kondo of Japan said with a laugh, as she crossed under the RacingThePlanet banner, “I must be disqualified because I came in with the sweepers!” Competitors arrived to camp to another treat of fresh coconuts. Due to limited connectivity at the campsite, blogs and photos will be posted late.
Stage 2: Breaking News 2
Mon, 1 September 2014 at 16:30
Competitors are continuing to arrive to Camp 3 after travelling a total distance of 46.3 kilometers on today's Stage 2 course. Competitors are commenting on the heat, which officially reached 37°C/98°F degrees yesterday and was expected to be the same today. Race leader Ryan Sandes of South Africa crossed the line at 11:40 saying, “I liked the course better today because the landscape was more varied than yesterday with the river crossings.” About his feeling today, he said, “[I'm] hot but feeling good.” The first female to the finish line was Maki Izuchi Suban of Japan at 13:30. Maki improved her position today after finishing as the fourth female on Stage 1. Frenchman Philippe Gatta has been stunned by the terrain, exclaiming that, “it was an absolutely beautiful course today!”
Stage 2: Breaking News 1
Mon, 1 September 2014 at 14:45
RacingThePlanet: Madagascar competitors were treated to a beautiful race start at 07:00 on a pristine, deserted beach before traversing a unique baobab forest and many villages with cheering spectators on today's course. The first challenge of Stage 2 was dodging waves leaping up over the volcanic cliffside where competitors ran alongside the ocean. A muddy rice paddy between Checkpoints 2 and 3 slowed many competitors down before intense heat picked up in the afternoon. Today's top three leaders crossed in the same order as the race's first stage, with South African Ryan Sandes remaining the overall race leader. Japan's Watrau Iino and Ralph Crowley of the United States crossed in second and third position, respectively. Checkpoints 1 and 2 are now closed and approximately 30 more competitors are approaching Checkpoint 3. Seventy-six competitors are through Checkpoint 4, and 43 competitors have crossed the finish line at Camp 3. Belinda Holdsworth had a short break before Checkpoint 4 to snack on garlic olives. Susan King, Garry Prendiville, Frederic Asseline, Mick Hogan and many more are all looking good having reached the halfway point between Checkpoints 3 and 4.
Stage 3: Breaking News 3
Tue, 2 September 2014 at 22:30
Stage 3 started out partially sunny and humid, but the clouds soon lifted for another hot day on the course. Along the course competitors navigated through Tsingy Canyon and crossed a river which helped them to cool off. Thomas Watson of Canada had a great day on the trail saying, "I love scrambling and getting right into the rocks!" Marcelo Musial of Brazil agreed: "My favorite part of the course was the canyon. I had to stop to take a picture." Renzo Moltrasio of Italy said, "I loved the canyon, the rocks, the river, it was all so beautiful! I took my time to enjoy the scenery." By the afternoon, most competitors were resting around the campsite and hanging out their clothes to dry. Some competitors walked back to the river to swim, bathe and wash their clothes. Crocodiles are known to reside in the river, but competitors crossed at a shallow area for safety. Mo Yee Lan of Hong Kong said, "I feel pretty good. My feet hurt in some places, but my legs feel strong still so I'm confident I can finish tomorrow." The course has now closed for the day with nine new withdrawals and remaining competitors all back at camp.
Stage 3: Breaking News 2
Tue, 2 September 2014 at 15:45
Stage 3, called The Red Tsingy Valley, has seen 80 competitors cross the finish line of the 42.1-kilometer course as of 15:30. South African Ryan Sandes crossed the finish line in first place for the third day at 11:45:47. He was followed through the line by Wataru Iino of Japan at 12:01:33 and Andrew Fargus of the United Kingdom at 12:12:16. The first female to finish today's course was Maki Izuchi Suban of Japan at 13:24:00. Checkpoints 1 and 2 are now closed.
Stage 3: Breaking News 1
Tue, 2 September 2014 at 09:00
The atmosphere this morning at Camp 3 is calm and relaxed. There is a breeze blowing through camp that feels slightly more humid than yesterday, and there is more cloud cover. Yesterday's temperature was a high of 36 degrees Celsius and is not expected to be any different today. The temperature at 07:00 was 23 degrees Celsius. At 07:30, 213 active competitors received today's course briefing. The 42.1-kilometer course will begin on a sandy track that will lead to a beach and then into a riverbed. The competitors will then get their first views of the famous Tsingy limestone rock formations of Madagascar. The track today finishes off with a 300-meter river crossing with knee-high water levels. The competitors started off for the day promptly at 08:00, with the front runners, Wataro Iino, Ryan Sandes, Maki Izuchi Suban and Ralph Crowley quickly out of the start. Even the competitors who arrived at the finish very late last night were looking well rested and enthusiastic for Stage 3 of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014.
Stage 4: Breaking News 3
Wed, 3 September 2014 at 21:00
Mayra Johnson of Brazil, Kumi Murakami of Japan and Brandon Kahler of the United States are the most recent competitors across the finish line of Stage 4 around 18:16. Previously, American Steve Scola weaved his way around a tree and through the flags before dancing through the finish line with a big smile. He was competitor 191 to arrive at camp successfully after the end of the fourth day of racing. It is now calm and quiet at camp except for those next to the finish line cheering on the final arrivals. Only 4 competitors have yet to come in and are now being led by glowsticks through the dark night.
Stage 4: Breaking News 2
Wed, 3 September 2014 at 17:00
Nearly 140 competitors have crossed the Stage 4 finish line as of 16:10, with the last arrivals being Patrick Hilti of Switzerland and Robyn Metcalfe of the United States. There was a slight change in the leading action today, as Japanese competitor Wataru Iino beat South African Ryan Sandes to the finish by just over one minute - Iino arrived to the finish line at 11:15:08 while Sandes followed in at 11:16:48. At Checkpoint 3, a group of 40 schoolchildren are cheering loudly for every competitor that comes past; needless to say, the competitors are really appreciating the great reception. About running through one of the villages today, Margot Walters of the United States said, "People were cheering... you just felt like a star!" Temperatures are cooling and clouds are accumulating. Those crossing finish line have said that today's course is much more runnable than the past stages. Competitors nearing the finish line turn a final corner into an open field where Camp 5, called Ankharana Farmlands, is set up to rest before the long stage which begins tomorrow.
Stage 4: Breaking News 1
Wed, 3 September 2014 at 10:00
Stage 4 of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar saw 202 competitors start the day at 08:00 to head out onto 40.3 kilometers of terrain towards Camp 5. It's a special day for competitor Christopher Lewis of the United Kingdom who is celebrating his 60th birthday. Temperatures yesterday measured 24 degrees Celsius at 08:00, 35 degrees Celsius at 16:00 and 23 degrees at 20:00. This morning is mostly cloudy with a slight breeze and mild temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius. Today's course starts on the dirt track. Competitors will have one river crossing before scaling up to a plateau and around the perimeter of Sacred Lake which has many crocodiles that are fed by the locals during a special weekly feeding ceremony. As of 09:50, 175 competitors are already through Checkpoint 1 - Toby Brown and Jennifer Wong were the latest to arrive. Checkpoint 2 has already seen 40 competitors pass through.
Stage 5: Breaking News 6
Fri, 5 September 2014 at 12:30
All 191 active competitors of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 have reached Camp 6 after completing 76.9 kilometers on Stage 5: The Long March through the Grey Tsingy Reserve. The last to cross the finish line was Kasper Hald of Denmark. Huang Lingyun from China was in the final group into Camp 6 with a valiant effort having finished the first stage as the women's leader before she tripped and dislocated her elbow on Stage 3 in the red tsingy. Huang continued to walk the course with friends and will officially finish the race. With lots of red dust, river crossings, muddy fields and hot temperatures, Martyn Sawyer commented that it was, "one of the dirtiest 4 Deserts / Roving Race courses I have done." A fellow 4 Deserts Club member, Nicola Benetti of Italy, commented that, "there was a highlight each day: the beach on Stage 1, the baobab forest on Stage 2, the red tsingy on Stage 3, Sacred Lake on Stage 4 and finally the village life all along." The final stage takes place tomorrow, 6 September, along a 10-kilometer route into the town of Ambilobe. Heading into the final stage, the overall leaders are Ryan Sandes of South Africa, Wataru Iino from Japan and Andrew Fargus of the United Kingdom. In the women's category, the battle is between Maki Izuchi Suban and Mayumi Watanabe of Japan and Susan Riggio of the United States.
Stage 5: Breaking News 5
Fri, 5 September 2014 at 10:00
At 10:00 local time in Madagascar competitors Hiroki Kimura and Nanna Okubo from Japan crossed the Stage 5 finishline and got engaged to be married! There are seven more competitors still to reach the finishline - they include Victor Cheng, Kasper Hald, Hong Mei Juan, Huang Lingyun, Yang Danyu, Nigel and Luba Vaughan. All are doing well determined to meet the cut-off time as they come through the sugar cane fields and villages on the 8.7km of the last section. All others are relaxing at Camp 6 which is the football field of a local village on the edges of Ambilobe. Friendships are being fixed and plans made for future races - Atacama Crossing and Gobi March seem to be the most popular, both to compete and volunteer.
Stage 5: Breaking News 4
Fri, 5 September 2014 at 01:00
Checkpoint 6 has received 175 competitors, the latest through being Derek Kwik of Hong Kong at 00:31. Checkpoint 7 has received 157 competitors and 138 competitors have officially completed The Long March. The latest competitors to cross the finish line were Benjamin Dame, Joyce Forier and Garry Young. Forier said that listening to a mix of music, specifically songs that she can sing to, has gotten her through the race, and that other competitors know that if she's not singing she's, "barely hanging on." Jane Carvalho of Brazil brought a can of tuna specifically for the overnight checkpoint as a special treat - she opened the can with giddiness and a smile.
Stage 5: Breaking News 3
Thu, 4 September 2014 at 22:00
All 191 remaining competitors have arrived to Checkpoint 5 of The Long March. Ten competitors are currently resting at the checkpoint and may stay there for up to another two hours. These competitors include Nigel and Luba Vaughan from the United States and Denmark's Gitte Hansen and Kasper Hald. Previously, Robyn Metcalfe of the United States, feeling in very good form, stopped at the checkpoint to eat while Kenneth Krys of the Cayman Islands - back to a race just two months after completing the Gobi March - was also enjoying his meal. Kenneth said he had more of an appetite than he's had all week. And his highlight of the day? The lemurs he passed on the course a bit earlier.
Stage 5: Breaking News 2
Thu, 4 September 2014 at 15:15
The top two leaders of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014 have now crossed the finish banner of The Long March and are enjoying their rest at Camp 6 under overcast skies. The winner of Stage 5 is Iino Wataru of Japan at 6:47:23 with South African Ryan Sandes was just behind at 6:48:15. Iino said, "I sprinted past Ryan just before the finish line." Sandes said, "Tough day at the office. Really felt the last 20 kilometers." Camp is located in soccer field surrounded by villages. Checkpoints 1 and 2 are both closed and Checkpoint 3 has seen 183 competitors, including Alli Ahmad, Emily Braithwaite, Elisabeth Forsman and Richard Webb, as the most recent through the checkpoint. Earlier in the day, Lorence Johnston came through Checkpoint 3 in 86th position and led a rendition of a Simon and Garfunkel song which was joined by 20 others. Forty-nine people have passed Checkpoint 5, including most recent arrivals Ilya Nikitin, Ashley Burke and Ian Mann. Ash Mokhtari is still at the checkpoint admiring the fresh cashews on a nearby tree. Blair Turnbull is taking it easy today - he walked the last two sections as his feet have blisters and said, "of the many ultras I have done, I have enjoyed the last two sections [of this course] the most." At Checkpoint 4, Turnbull stopped to view the lemurs hanging out just behind the tents. The first ten people are through Checkpoint 6 (58 kilometers into the race), including the first woman Mayumi Watanabe.
Stage 5: Breaking News 1
Thu, 4 September 2014 at 02:08
Stage 5, started today at 08:00 with 194 competitors headed off for The Long March through the Grey Tsingy Reserve. Generally there were smiles, laughter and excitement and nervousness at the startline. Todd Josselyn will do the stage on his own looking forward to meeting up with Ona Alpert who withdrew at any earlier stage but will be waiting at Camp 6 at the end of the day. Luba Vaughan led the dancing at the start line to "I Like to Move it Move It" from the film Madagascar - the song is also the title of the fundraising efforts of Singaporean competitors Zhou Mi and Zhen Long (who decided to do the race after volunteering at Gobi March 2013). Ryan Sandes from South Africa goes into the stage with nearly a one hour lead on 2nd place competitor Watanabe Iino from Japan, while Andrew Fargus from the United Kingdom and Ralph Crowley from the United States are not far behind in 3rd and 4th place. It will be an exciting day for the womens competition with Maki Izuchi Suban from Japan leading and just 15 minutes separating 2nd and 3rd place Susan Riggio from the United States and Mayumi Watanabe from Japan. The course today will take the competitors on rocky, stony, sandy and dusty tracks through villages, up onto the savannah and on the edge of the Ankarana National Park where they will race under the shadow of the grey Tsingy and may spot some Lemurs. A few water crossings will also feature. At 50kms into the 76.9 km stage is the overnight checkpoint where there is hot water available for a meal and a chance to rest.
Stage 6: Breaking News 2
Sat, 6 September 2014 at 12:15
Ryan Sandes of South Africa is the overall winner of RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014. He completed the final 10-kilometer stage in 39 minutes and 15 seconds. Japan's Wataru Iino came in alongside Ryan on today's stage for second place overall. 190 competitors completed the full 250-kilometer race, arriving at the Marie (Town Hall) though the streets of Ambilobe which were lined with local people cheering all of the competitors into the finish. Ali Kedami from Lebanon once again ran the race for his daughter, Saria, to whom he presented his medal when he crossed the finish line. Max Hintermann from Switzerland said he ran the race for his brother, Beat, who was unable to join him at this race as he has for all their previous 4 Deserts appearances. Throughout the week, just under 18% of competitors withdrew from the course; some of these competitors, including Sharon Dopak, made the journey from Diego Suarez to cheer today's competitors across the final Madagascar finish line. Race participants are now looking forward to getting back to their hotels to have showers, food and some rest before the Awards Banquet around the poolside tonight.
Stage 6: Breaking News 1
Sat, 6 September 2014 at 08:30
At 07:00 the first group of competitors started Stage 6 for the final 10 kilometers of the RacingThePlanet: Madagascar course. All were dancing to "The Final Countdown" and a very loud countdown before they headed off. The finish line in Ambilobe was set up and ready to present the well-deserved finisher medals. The 08:00 group followed, with Jack Fierstadt and Paul Skipworth first to the start line to ready themselves for the stage. Robbie Broomhead, in the form of Elvis Presley, made a guest appearance to cheer the group off. The surprising news of the morning is that 3rd place competitor Andrew Fargus will not run the final stage - he has had a phenomenal run but has a knee injury that would see him struggle to the finish line.
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