Celebrating 10 Years
The 4 Deserts Race Series was founded in 2002. We celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2012. This page looks back at the first 10 Years and 37 races of the 4 Deserts Race Series through photos, features and news. You can find out more About the 4 Deserts Race Series and also see the History Page for full details of each event since the first one in 2003.
As our celebrations for the 10 Year Anniversary of the Gobi March continue, we’re inviting competitors to create videos on what the 4 Deserts means to them. All video submissions will be voted on and the best video will win the Grand Prize of USD500 worth of gear*.
* Grand prize excludes all food items and Expedition Foods meals.

Inspired by 4 Deserts competitor Stefan Danis, the theme is "What's Your Gobi?"
Watch this teaser and send us your short video today! For more info or to send your short video, email info@racingtheplanet.com.

Video Length: Approximately 1 min
Video Format: AVI, MPEG, MOV


Frame your video camera/ phone camera to create a mid-shot (from the waist up to your head) in horizontal view only.

Please introduce yourself: name, nationality, where you live, which 4 Deserts event(s) you did / are going to do / want to do.

Answer one or more of the following questions.

Questions to choose from:
1. What inspired you to sign up for the 4 Deserts race? (e.g. personal motivation, fundraising for a cause, visit a new place, etc.)
2. What was / has been your most memorable moment in racing or training?
3. What did you get out of the experience?
4. How has the experience changed your life?

Email your video to info@racingtheplanet.com
Looking Back in Photos
RacingThePlanet competitors, volunteers and staff reveal their favorite photos from the first decade.

Mary Gadams,
RacingThe Planet Founder

All these local people showed up 15 minutes before our very first start line at the Gobi March 2003.

Zandy Mangold
Competitor & Photographer of the 4 Deserts Race Series

Zandy Mangold,
Competitor & Photographer of the 4 Deserts Race Series

This image at the Gobi March 2012 looks like a Hollywood film set - in fact it was the scene for the campsite at the end of Stage 4.

Jesse Yoo
Record Holder for Finishes of races in the 4 Deserts Race Series

Jesse Yoo,
Record Holder for Finishes of races in the 4 Deserts Race Series

RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009. It was very tough and beauty and fantastic.

Running for Education

Dotted along the routes of the Gobi March are many schools which have benefitted from Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation...
Running for Education
Dotted along the routes of the Gobi March are many schools which have benefitted from Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation, receiving books and scholarships for promising students and some of the rural schools being completed renovated.

Having partnered with the Gobi March since 2005 as a participant and event partner and sponsor, Esquel is one of RacingThePlanet's longest supporters. Esquel's expertise in the far-western province has seen them provide essential assistance with logistics and local government liaison.

In addition to its work behind the scenes, Esquel also organizes a team of three or four participants to take part in the Gobi March each year. While the Esquel colleagues are not professional athletes, teamwork has managed to earn them good results, including first place in the team competition in the Gobi March 2011.

"Our participants are selected from the best athletes amongst our over 33,000 staff community within China," Esquel Chairman Marjorie Yang. "Completing the race is no simple task; it requires the highest tenets of team spirit, can-do attitude, physical courage and pursuit of excellence. Their effort and perseverance clearly demonstrates the unique characters of Esquel employees and serves as an exemplar for all. It's an exceptional opportunity also for them to network with other athletes and share their sweat and tears."

Esquel has worked in Xinjiang for many years, with cotton being their most important raw material - the Extra Long Staple cotton is only found in Xinjiang. Having travelled and worked in Xinjiang many times, Ms. Yang shares some of the same sentiments about the region as so many of the Gobi March's competitors.

"This is one of the most exotic regions in the world," Ms. Yang said. "Esquel first discovered Xinjiang while commissioning spinning in the region. It was a place of such beauty and fragility that prompted us to come to Xinjiang while putting sustainability at the heart of our mission and practices. Our participants said that this is one of the most memorable natural sceneries in a lifetime."

Over the years, RacingThePlanet has been proud to support the Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation. Established in 2003, the Foundation's projects are based in rural Xinjiang and are focused on education and community: the renovation of 21 schools, student scholarship programmes, the donation of 33,000 books to over 1,000 schools, and a programme that supports families whose parents are affected by AIDS. In 2012, the Foundation will partner with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Optometry to conduct eye examinations in rural communities.

This year's Gobi March will once again pass through remote regions of the Gobi Desert and RacingThePlanet and Esquel will continue to support schools in need.

"During the preparation and prior to the event, the Gobi March team would identify schools with genuine needs along the competition route and make donations of computers and furniture to these schools," Ms. Yang explained. "This has meant a lot of improvements to the learning environment of children in these schools."

A Beautiful Smile

In 2006, a small, three-year-old girl named A Yiguli arrived at Operation Smile's medical screening site in Kashgar, strapped in cloth that was tied to her mother’s back...
A Beautiful Smile
In 2006, a small, three-year-old girl named A Yiguli arrived at Operation Smile's medical screening site in Kashgar, strapped in cloth that was tied to her mother’s back. She had a deep, wide facial cleft that prevented her from eating and drinking normally. Her parents carried her like an infant because she was tiny and malnourished.

Taking turns drinking from a canteen, A Yiguli's parents mashed up food in their own mouths to spit what little sustenance they could into the child’s gaping cleft, just to keep her alive. They were determined and loving. Everyone wanted to help the child, yet the Operation Smile doctors were at a loss. The deformity was so severe that the surgery required was too complex and risky to be done in Kashgar. RacingThePlanet staff and volunteers were visiting the day of the screening and moved by the child and her story. RacingThePlanet staff asked Operation Smile to make sure the child was treated, at whatever cost.

When staff and volunteers went looking through the hospital to find the family, the family had disappeared after being told they could return to their village until Operation Smile worked out a solution. As luck would have it, the family had waited outside the hospital, resting against the courtyard wall. Three days later, arrangements were in place. RacingThePlanet helped finance a six-month nutrition program, which included the use of special feeding bottles and the provision of protein-filled foods like eggs, meat and cheese, for A Yiguli. Oversight from the local health agency was also arranged to provide support.

Given the extent of reconstructive work needed to rebuild her facial structure, one of Operation Smile's premier volunteer craniofacial surgeons in Shanghai agreed to take on A Yiguli's case. RacingThePlanet was thanked for helping to provide for transportation, accommodation and surgical supplies. A Yiguli has now had two successful major surgeries with a third one planned in Shanghai in late 2012.
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