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Spotlight on Paul Borlinha

It has been an intense year for Paul Borlinha. The 50-year old from Canada is attempting to take on not only the 4 Deserts Grand Slam in 2014, but also the Roving Race. If he succeeds in completing all five, he will be the third person in history to have accomplished the challenge.

We chatted with Borlinha at Camp 6, under the shade of large trees along the perimeter of a soccer field by the village. It’s noon, and Borlinha has managed to finish the Long March in 11th place—by the end of the race he comes in 35th slot overall.

Not bad for someone who also is the president of a company and has a huge range of professional duties to wrap around all the racing. “It was not my original intention,” the Canadian confides. “I was planning on racing in the 4 Deserts series only and after the Sahara, I thought, why not do all five?” He says that here in Madagascar, he’s found the hottest race of the year—and what has felt like more sand than in the Sahara. Looking back, he says that he’s seen a real change in his mindset as well as his body as the year and kilometers have progressed.

“The first race humbles you and you build from there,” he says. “The second race was building, and the third race I didn’t have much training because I got sick. I never get sick, but it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down.”

He says his body has changed significantly with all the hard work he’s been giving it. Friends have noticed him becoming more lean and cut. “There are one or two little things now that I need to tweak,” he adds about his journey as it extends beyond here and over the Atacama Crossing and then onto The Last Desert (Antarctica).

“I think Atacama will be a culmination of all the races I’ve done so far with all the personal preparation over this year to-date,” he predicts.

One interesting side effect of all the racing and pushing himself to his very limits this year, is the way his mind has pulled back ever stronger to home. It’s been a huge lesson, he says, in gratitude. “It isn’t so much about the people I’m meeting. You do meet great people, with very interesting backgrounds, but now for me, its about appreciating all the little things from back home. I’ve never been sentimental, but now I miss my family and I want to spend more time with them.”

Clare Morin

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