Dorian Bay, Antarctica, 24 November 2010 – South African competitor Ryan Sandes has made racing history in Antarctica as the first competitor to win every race in the world-renowned 4 Deserts series of 250-kilometer, self-supported foot races.
Following his surprise victory in the Gobi March (China) 2008, Sandes has moved from a relative unknown to an endurance superstar, astounding the racing world with his consistent wins in some of the most difficult foot races on the planet. He made history earlier this year when he smashed the record for the Atacama Crossing (Chile), and has sustained his lead right up to the end.
“The last week has been an insane experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Antarctica,” said Sandes of his achievement. “To win all 4 Deserts was a bonus and really rewarding for some long hours of training over the past two years. I was elated crossing the finish line with a South African flag in hand.”
Paolo Barghini (50) came in second, closely followed by fellow Italian Emanuele Gallo (37). In the women’s division, Diana Hogan-Murphy (33) from Ireland took the top spot, with Marjiana Pellizer (47) of Croatia and Australian Samantha Gash (25) coming in second and third, respectively.
There have also been a record-number of competitors to attain a 4 Deserts Grand Slam, nine competitors have completed all four of the desert races in 2010 including: Paul Acheson (33) of the United Kingdom , Samantha Gash (25) of Australia, Terumasa Mori (31) of Japan, David O’Brien of Ireland (56), Linda Quirk of the United States (57), and Lucy Rivers Bulkely (32) and Philip Tye both of the United Kingdom (48). The three women in this category were notably the first women to ever accomplish the feat. As Linda Quirk summed it up: “This has been such an emotional and spectacular year.”
Mary Gadams, Founder and CEO of RacingThePlanet said “Ryan Sandes is clearly one of the top endurance athletes in the world. To have won all 4 Deserts is a remarkable accomplishment. All competitors who competed persevered under the harsh and unforgiving climate of Antarctica. The Last Desert is clearly one of the pinnacles of athletic achievement.”
The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 was held from 20-24 November in particularly changeable and challenging weather conditions. On 20 November, 55 competitors from 22 countries set out on King George’s Island, where they battled through mud, deep snow and icy-cold water crossings, eventually having to leave the island as blizzard conditions closed in.
The uncertain weather continued to challenge on the second stage, but by the third day the competitors enjoyed a 12-hour race on the culturally and historically significant Deception Island – running in the crater of a still-active volcano. Stage 4 was held in the breath-taking setting of Dorian Bay, amid scenes of killer whales and humpback whales, glaciers and even avalanches.
Partnering with The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 providing essential products and services were Intel, the official technology provider, Marmot, the official apparel partner and Expedition Foods, the official freeze-dried food supplier.
For this edition of the event, RacingThePlanet is making a donation in support of Project Kaisei / Ocean Voyages Institute. Project Kaisei, the ocean clean up initiative of Ocean Voyages Institute, is based in Sausalito, California and Hong Kong, and was established to increase the understanding and the scale of marine debris, its impact on the ocean environment, and what solutions can be introduced for both prevention and ultimately its removal from the world’s oceans.
About The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 – www.thelastdesert.com
The Last Desert (Antarctica) is held every two years and forms the final race of the iconic 4 Deserts series. Competitors must complete a minimum of two of the other 4 Deserts events to be invited to participate in the race.
The event is a 250km, self-supported foot race with competitors having to carry a mandatory list of equipment, nutrition and water on each stage. The race uses a polar expedition ship as its base, traveling to the different course locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and offshore islands based on the prevailing sea and weather conditions, with competitors transferred from ship to shore by special zodiacs.
The unique challenges of The Last Desert (Antarctica) include having to cope with the severity of the weather conditions that can include gale-force blizzards and temperatures down to -20C (4F). Competitors also have to deal with the unpredictability of daily stage lengths and start-times, as the prevailing environmental conditions dictate where and when stages might begin.
About the 4 Deserts – www.4deserts.com
The 4 Deserts is the world’s leading rough-country endurance footrace series. A unique collection of world-class races that take place over 7 days and 250 kilometres in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet.
Competitors are challenged to go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and formidable landscapes, they must carry all their own equipment and food, and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest.
The series, named again by TIME magazine in 2010 as one of the world’s Top 10 endurance competitions, comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Gobi March in China, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica.
About the 4 Deserts Grand Slam
The 4 Deserts Grand Slam has been so named by competitors attempting to complete all the 4 Deserts events in one calendar year. The first Grand Slam was completed in 2008, when five competitors set out to complete, with two ultimately successful: Dean Karnazes of the United States and Paul Liebenberg of South Africa. In 2010, fourteen competitors attempted to complete the feat and nine have been successful.
For any further information or requests for photos and video footage and competitor introductions please contact [email protected].