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Sandes sensation returning to his 4 Deserts roots

Ultra trail athlete Ryan Sandes has confirmed his attendance at the 2014 Roving Race in Madagascar. The 4 Deserts Champion in 2010, Ryan is also the first person ever to have won all 4 Deserts. The South African runner is looking to get back to his beginnings by taking part in the Roving Race on the remote and isolated African island.

"It has always been a dream of mine to travel to Madagascar,” says Ryan, 31. "The 4 Deserts Race Series is where my ultra running career started and I am looking forward to returning to my roots. I really enjoy the challenge of running multi-day races, but most importantly, the adventure side to the races."

Sandes took part – and won – his first stage desert race in 2008 at the Gobi March (China) amid touch competition, coming in ahead of top Hong Kong runner Stone Tsang and well-known ultrarunner Dean Karnazes. He kept his winning streak by coming first at the Sahara Race (Egypt) later that year. In 2010 he won the Atacama Crossing (Chile) and The Last Desert (Antarctica), his combined efforts crowning him the 4 Deserts Champion.           

For Ryan, the 4 Deserts Race Series has inspired a complete 360 in his professional life. “I have gone from having a desk job to becoming a professional athlete,” he says.

To date Ryan has completed six races in the 4 Deserts and Roving Race Series. In the 2009 Roving Race in Namibia he finished in second place and he won the 2011 Roving Race in Nepal.

He is the only runner to have won an ultra trail race on every continent and holds numerous records in races around the world, including second at the 2011 Leadville 100 Miler (third fastest time in history), second in the 2012 Western States 100 Miler USA (second fastest time in history) and champion of Trans Grand Canaria 2014.

Ryan’s advice for those considering taking part in the series: “Go for it and take the road less travelled! It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it will change your life forever.”

In Madagascar tough competition will come from competitors: Andrew Fargus, 35, a former professional athlete from the United Kingdom who placed 11th in the Marathon des Sables in 2013; Ralph Crowley, 29, from United States who has completed a number of 4 Deserts races and placed fifth in RacingThePlanet Iceland 2013 and Cornel De Jongh, another South African ultra-runner who has got a number of trail races under his belt.

By Rachel Jacquelin

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