RacingThePlanet was founded in February 2002 in Hong Kong by American Mary Gadams, a former investment banker and strategist, who has completed more than 50 marathons, ultramarathons and wilderness competitions around the world. The first event under the RacingThePlanet banner was held in September 2003, near Dunhuang, China, and called the Gobi March. This inaugural event introduced trail running races to the expansive Asian country. Less than a year later, in July 2004, the Atacama Crossing was held in Chile, followed by the first Sahara Race in Egypt in September 2005. The Last Desert in Antarctica was inaugurated in January 2006. These events required competitors to traverse 250 kilometers of rough country terrain over seven days with only a place in a tent and water provided each day. They were supported by highly qualified staff, all with experience in hiking, marathons and ultramarathons, and a medical team specializing in wilderness medicine.
The four events combined to create the annual 4 Deserts series, which is now widely recognized as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world. TIME magazine ranked the 4 Deserts series as one of the Top Ten Endurance Events in the world for two consecutive years.
In February 2008, a fifth event, called the Roving Race, was added to the RacingThePlanet calendar. This event, of similar format, moved to a different location each year. The first edition, titled RacingThePlanet: Vietnam, was organized among the rice terraces of Sapa in northwest Vietnam. RacingThePlanet: Namibia 2009 then routed competitors along the Fish River Canyon and Skeleton Coast of Namibia in Southern Africa. RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010 took place in The Outback, while RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011 traversed the foothills of the Himalayas, and RacingThePlanet: Jordan 2012 covered the Wadi Rum desert with a finish in the ancient city of Petra. The next Roving Race was held in Iceland in 2013, followed by Madagascar in 2014. The eight Roving Race is scheduled for Ecuador in 2015.
Central to RacingThePlanet is its ethos to support local medical and education charities. RacingThePlanet has worked closely with the Y.L. Yang Education Foundation and Operation Smile in countries around the world raising more than US$750,000. Other charities supported include the Royal Flying Doctors in Australia, the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care in Hong Kong, the Child Welfare Scheme in Nepal and the Ocean Voyages Institute in Antarctica, to name a few. In addition, RacingThePlanet has raised money to support persons affected by natural disasters which have occurred in countries where its events are held,including major earthquakes in China and Chile. RacingThePlanet also encourages its competitors to raise money for charities through its events -- millions of U.S. dollars have been raised through RacingThePlanet competitors.
Still headquartered in Hong Kong with a regional office in the United Kingdom, RacingThePlanet has a worldwide presence through its 13 representative offices in Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan.
Aside from the core activity of organizing the endurance footraces, RacingThePlanet has also created The Outdoor Store which sells high end outdoor gear, clothing and food through warehouses in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. The Outdoor Store, available in English, Spanish, Italian, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, is now Asia's largest online store for high-end outdoor gear, clothing and food.
RacingThePlanet is privately held and employs 45 full time staff in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. RacingThePlanet continues to be the most highly regarded and experienced organizer of remote footraces in the world.