Click the event name for full details.
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka 14 Feb 2016
    Sahara Race Namibia 1 May 2016
    Gobi March China 19 June 2016
    Atacama Crossing Chile 2 Oct 2016
    The Last Desert Antarctica 18 - 29 Nov 2016
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Staff & Volunteers

1 of 8Samantha Fanshawe
President, Events
United Kingdom, Resident in Hong Kong

2 of 8Riitta Hanninen
Event Director
Finland, Resident in Hong Kong

3 of 8Pierre Beguin
Course Director

4 of 8Alina Brown
Event Director
United States, Resident in United Kingdom

5 of 8Sonja Gottlebe
Germany, Resident in Madagascar

6 of 8Matthew Moroz
Event Manager
United Kingdom, Resident in Hong Kong

7 of 8Tony Brammer
Checkpoint Captain
United Kingdom

8 of 8Bob Leighty
Logistics and Safety Coordinator
United States

As 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 (China) 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 more than twenty 4 Deserts / Roving Race Series, in a management capacity.

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 worked on the management team at more than fifteen 4 Deserts / Roving Race Series events since she joined 4 Deserts in 2010. She is responsible for the Roving Race Series.

Pierre is the course director for RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014. He has a long history with the Raid Gauloises as the primary individual responsible for setting nine Raid Gauloises courses in remote locations around the world. As a member of the Raid Gauloises organization, Pierre also managed all safety aspects of events, and assisted with government relations within the various countries. Pierre is a professional skier, climber and river guide.

He has overseen the course team for ten 4 Deserts / RacingThePlanet events including the Gobi March (China) 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2006, the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2006, 2007 and 2008, the Taklamakan Ultramarathon 2010 and RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011. After the Gobi March 2013, Madagascar 2014 is Pierre's twelfth event as Course Director for RacingThePlanet events.

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 more than fifteen 4 Deserts events and is responsible for the 4 Deserts Race Series.

Sonja Gottlebe, originally from Germany, has lived most of her life in Madagascar. She is the CEO and founder of Boogie Pilgrim, a tourism company which promotes the beautiful Madagascar in the most eco-friendly and sustainable ways possible. Sonja's network in the tourism industry reaches all corners of Madagascar. In addition to creating exciting tours to explore the country, Sonja was also the local coordinator for the Raid Gauloises adventure race in Madagascar. She speaks German, French, English and Malagasy.
Matthew Moroz joins the 4 Deserts Race Series team with an impressive running background having completed the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010, the Gobi March (China) 2011, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2013 and many more ultramarathons around the United Kingdom and the world. He has also represented Team GB (Great Britain) in the 24 Hour World Championships. Matt knows what it takes to complete these races. The British national has a background in Computer Science and a Masters in Crime and Security Science from the University College London. His Event Management, Risk & Contingency Planning and Project Management skills are certified and have been put to the test. Other than running Matt loves most sports and anything outdoors: mountaineering, squash, football, badminton, skiing, yoga, pilates and diving.
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 is a dedicated 4 Deserts volunteer having worked on the volunteer team at RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2010 and 2012, RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011, the Sahara Race (Egypt) 2008 and 2012. Due to his strong experience on the 4 Deserts races, Tony took the duties of a Checkpoint Captain for the Gobi March (China) 2013, RacingThePlanet: Iceland 2013 and the Sahara Race (Jordan) 2014. Captain Tony looks forward to working behind the scenes at his 14th event in the 4 Deserts / Roving Race Series at RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014.
We’re delighted to have Bob Leighty on the support crew for RacingThePlanet: Madagascar 2014, his sixth event with 4 Deserts after the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2010, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2012, the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2014, RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011 and RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012. From Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Bob looks after the aerial fire-fighting side of things for the US Forest Service as its air tactical group supervisor. Bob’s been with the service since 1978, working in a variety of timber and fire management posts, so he’s well used to moving through remote areas, looking after people and getting tough jobs done. In his down time, Bob enjoys trekking and has journeyed on foot through Vietnam, Laos, Peru and Switzerland. Suffice to say Bob is a thoroughly self-reliant individual but, crucially, he’s also a team player. We think it’s great he’s branched out into event volunteering and we’re more than happy to satisfy his burning desire to join us in Madagascar.
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