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4 Deserts Club Reunion

By Clare Morin

The Roving Race in Nepal has attracted a record number of 4 Deserts Club members. Perhaps it’s their adventurous spirit, to take on another footrace in one of the most spectacular regions on earth. Or maybe it's the chance to reconnect with old friends and this special community of racers. We checked in with some of the veterans to find out about their experiences.


Gunnar Fahen is a retired army officer from Norway who now works as a part-time GP. He tells us that he knew about RacingThePlanet before it even existed. “I met Mary [Gadams] in Mongolia in 2000 at the Sunrise to Sunset,” he explains. “Mary told her plan of the 4 Deserts and RacingThePlanet so I kept my eyes open. After the Desert Cup in Jordan, where Mary was too, I knew I could do long races and could handle the heat”.


He finally won his place in the 4 Deserts Club in Antarctica in 2010. He says it was an incredible experience. “The weather in Antarctica is not too dissimilar to back home in Norway. We used to have whales and penguins too in Norway, but the whaling has ended much of it between WWI and WWII.”  


This journey to Nepal is particularly close to Gunnar’s heart. He came to trek here in 1977 but was unable to go ahead as there were border problems. “I’ve always wanted to come back,” he says.


Simone Bishop has also seen her fair share of races: she’s competed in five, and volunteered at six. Looking back to how she started, she explains, “I’d never been involved in any sport before. But at the Gobi March when I was volunteering I saw people with no experience taking on the challenge. I’m almost 50 and I am in the best shape of my life!”


The same message came from Hong Kong-based Phil Tye. The Brit is one of the few Grand Slammers in the race, which means he completed all 4 Desert races in one year. He explains that he wanted to challenge himself. “It is something very few people do and by doing it, I could show people that an average person could do it,” he says with a good amount of humility.


Despite having a few injuries before this race, Tye explains that he wanted to come to Nepal because “it is ultramarathon-tourism at its best”.  But as Tye points out, it’s also about the reunion and the seeing of old friends. The bonds one develops on these races are some of life’s strongest. “Doing the 4 Deserts you have been to a few races and you know people,” he says. “And that’s what is really great.”

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