Celebrating 10 Years
The 4 Deserts Race Series celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012. This page looks back at our first ten years through photos, features and news. You can also learn more About the 4 Deserts and view our History page for details of each event since the inaugural 4 Deserts race at Gobi March (China) 2003.
Looking Back in Photos
4 Deserts competitors, volunteers and staff reveal their favorite photos from the first decade.

Mary Gadams
4 Deserts Founder

Mary Gadams,
4 Deserts Founder

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

Zandy Mangold
4 Deserts Competitor & Photographer

Zandy Mangold,
4 Deserts Competitor &
Photographer

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 4 Deserts Finishes

Jesse Yoo,
Record Holder for 4 Deserts Finishes
(20 and counting)

This was the Roving Race in Namibia 2009. It was very tough and beauty and fantastic.
SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY FEATURES

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. 4 Deserts staff and volunteers were visiting the day of the screening and moved by the child and her story; they subsequently 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. The 4 Deserts 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. The 4 Deserts 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.
IN THE NEWS

National Geographic Radio interviews founder Mary Gadams

Mary Gadams, founder of the 4 Deserts, has finished a radio interview with National Geographic Radio host, Boyd Matson. Matson competed in the inaugural Gobi March in 2003...
PRESS RELEASE
(10 August 2012, Hong Kong) - Mary Gadams, founder of the 4 Deserts Race Series, has finished a radio interview with National Geographic Radio host, Boyd Matson. Matson competed in the inaugural Gobi March in 2003, followed by the inaugural Atacama Crossing in 2004. On his radio program, Matson spoke to Gadams about the first decade of the 4 Deserts, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2012. The interview was broadcast on National Geographic Radio in the United States.

View Matson's video on Gobi March (China) 2003: Crossing the Gobi (3 April 2011)

View Matson's original National Geographic report: Surviving - Just Barely - the Gobi Ultramarathon (24 December 2003)
About the 4 Deserts - www.4deserts.com
The 4 Deserts is the world's leading endurance footrace series, a unique collection of world-class races that take place over 7 days and 250 kilometers in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet. Competitors must go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supponed 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 as one of te World's Top 10 Endurance Competitions comprises the Sahara Race (Egypt), Gobi March (China), Atacama Crossing (Chile) and The Last Desert (Antarctica).
Photo & Video Galleries

Atacama Crossing

Gobi March

Sahara Race

The Last Desert
FEATURED EQUIPMENT
#
OTHER RACES
#
#
Our Partners
070-086 070-089 070-121 070-122 070-123 070-158 070-162 070-169 070-177 070-178 070-181 070-210 070-214 070-215 070-216 070-217 070-218 070-219 070-220 070-221 070-222 070-223 070-224 070-225 070-226 070-227 070-228 070-229 070-232 070-234 070-235 070-236 070-237 070-238 070-241 070-243 070-244 070-246 070-247 070-262 1Z1-876 1Z1-877 1Z1-878 1Z1-879 1Z1-880 1Z1-881 1Z1-884 1Z1-889 1Z1-895 1Z1-897 MB2-184 MB2-185 MB2-186 MB2-228 MB2-421 MB2-422 MB2-423 MB2-498 MB2-631 MB2-632 MB2-633 MB2-634 MB2-700 MB2-701 MB2-702 MB2-703 MB2-866 MB2-867 MB2-867J MB2-868 MB2-876 MB2-876 MB3-207 MB3-208 MB3-209 MB3-210 MB3-214 MB3-215 MB3-216 MB3-230 MB3-234 MB3-408 MB3-409 MB3-412 MB3-413 MB3-430 MB4-217 MB4-218 MB4-219 MB4-348 MB4-349 MB4-534 MB4-535 MB4-536 MB4-640 MB4-641 MB4-643 MB5-845 MB5-854 MB5-855 MB5-856 MB5-857 MB5-858 MB6-202 MB6-203 MB6-204 MB6-205 MB6-206 MB6-282 MB6-283 MB6-284 MB6-285 MB6-288 MB6-291 MB6-295 MB6-502 MB6-503 MB6-504