Beyond the 4 Deserts

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4 Deserts Definition: The 4 Deserts is a global series of endurance events which consist of 7 day, 250 kilometer footraces across the Gobi Desert in China (Gobi March), the Atacama Desert in Chile (Atacama Crossing), the Sahara Desert in Egypt (the Sahara Race) and Antarctica (The Last Desert). These locations represent the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on Earth. Participation in these events is open to anyone except for The Last Desert in Antarctica which requires that individuals and teams first successfully complete the Gobi March, the Atacama Crossing and the Sahara Race. Individuals and teams that complete the series become a member of the exclusive 4 Deserts Club.

RacingThePlanet Definition: RacingThePlanet is a six-day, 250 kilometer footrace across the most remote landscape in the world. The location moves to a new country each year. Participation is open to anyone.

All competitors, whether competing as an individual or as part of a team, should possess basic outdoor survival skills such as familiarity with outdoor gear, cooking, backpacking and common sense. There is no navigation required.

Each event is a stage race that takes six or seven days to complete and covers roughly 150 miles (250 kilometers). The concept is simple: individuals and teams leave the starting line and "navigate" through numerous checkpoints to the finish line of the daily stage as quickly as they can. Competitors must carry all their own food, gear and clothing, and will only be provided with a ration of water. No outside assistance is permitted. To be considered officially ranked, all team members must cross the finish line together, but individuals can finish at any time during the allotted time. If one team member withdraws from the event, the remaining team members will move to the individual category.

The interpretation of the Official Rules and Regulations will be governed by this guiding principle: Any action of a team or individual which results in either an unfair advantage to the acting parties or in an unfair disadvantage to another team or individual will result in a penalty.

The Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O.) has complete discretion in formulating and applying rules and penalties. The Official Rules and Regulations may be modified at any time.

Competitors are solely responsible for knowing and complying with all laws of the host country.

The events take place in some of the most remote and pristine areas of the world. Therefore, it is imperative that competitors leave no trace - there is a minimum impact policy. The requirements apply to everyone associated with the event including staff, film crews, press and sponsors.

Absolutely no water bottles, caps from water bottles, energy bar wrappers, toilet paper or litter of any kind should be found on the course or in your tent. Anyone found to have littered the course will be heavily penalized or disqualified.

Tread Lightly
If you see plant foliage, do not step on it. If there are unique rock formations, do not touch or disturb the rocks. If you see ancient ruins or fossils, do not remove them from their location.

Basic camping techniques should be employed. Leave no trace at your campsite.

When at a campsite, competitors are required to use the toilet facilities provided.  When out on the course, competitors must not be within 100 meters of a checkpoint, campsite, home or ancient ruins when using the toilet.  All toilet paper should be buried.

Race headquarters will keep the official time clock for the competition. The race clock is a stopwatch; it begins when the race starts and stops for each individual or team when they cross the finish line of each stage. The time for a team is the time for the last member of that team to cross the finish line. The winning individual and team will be that individual and team who have the lowest combined times of the six stages after taking into account any penalties.

Cut off times will be established daily throughout each stage. If individuals or teams fail to reach and depart designated points by a certain time, they will not be allowed to continue. Initial cut-offs will be provided in race briefings daily. Additional cut-offs may be added during the race at the sole discretion of the C.O.O.

The first individual to cover the six stages in the shortest accumulated time is the winner. Subsequent individuals will be ranked according to their finishing time. Competitors who started in the team category will be eligible for individual ranking if their team does not complete the event (i.e., if one or more of their teammates withdraw), but only after the assessment of a one hour time penalty.

Teams are made up of at least three individuals of any sex. Each team must designate a team captain. The first team to cover the six stages in the shortest accumulated time is the winner. Subsequent teams will be ranked according to their finishing time. Teams can only be ranked if all members have completed all six stages.

Course Instructions will be issued to each individual. As part of the Course Instructions, individuals will be given a special Passport. The special passport should be marked by a designated checkpoint staff member with the date and time of arrival at the finish line of each stage. This will ensure that there is no discrepancy in your official finishing time.

All checkpoints must be completed in the designated sequence.

  • All members of a team must enter and leave all checkpoints together.
  • Missing a checkpoint will result in the individual or team being disqualified unless they backtrack to the missed checkpoint. The individual or team must then proceed from the first missed checkpoint back through all checkpoints as per the mandatory sequence (even if the individual or team will have passed through that checkpoint before).

Every individual must wear a lighted glow stick after sundown. The glow stick must remain pinned to each individual at all times until sunrise, except when at the main campsite.

The C.O.O. reserves the right to add, modify, cancel or change the course or host city at any time.

Competitors must stay on the marked course. Competitors inadvertently leaving the marked course must reenter the course at the exact place where they left the course. Competitors intentionally cutting or leaving the marked course may be disqualified.

Competitors leaving a logical course or direction between course markings will be deemed to have intentionally left the marked course. Where two course markers are visible, teams must go to the closest marker. If a logical route is evident and both visible markers are distant marks (i.e., one that is evidently not the next mark in sequence) teams must proceed on the logical route. Unless directed to do so by a course marking, cutting switchbacks on paved or dirt course is considered intentional course cutting.

The race course may be changed due to weather, safety hazards or darkness and the C.O.O. will have complete discretion to adjust raw stage finish times to reflect any course changes.

Course Markings
The course will be marked by signs, arrows, ribbons, chalk, paint, lights, flags and other devices. Competitors are responsible for (a) staying on the course; (b) slowing down to pay attention to course markings or the absence of course markings; and (c) making reasonable assumptions and decisions with regard to the direction of the course.

In general course markings will be visible under normal lighting conditions. Abnormal conditions may include sand, dust, mist, fog, rain, snow or any other condition that reduces visibility (other than darkness.) In the event of abnormal lighting conditions a stage may be modified, delayed or cancelled until normal conditions return.

The course will be marked with devices at intervals of between 25 and 100 meters depending on terrain and visibility. In the event that a competitor does not see a mark for 100 meters and they are not on the obvious or logical course, they should immediately return to the last known marker to find the correct course.

Race staff will make every effort to keep the course markers in place, however it is possible that markers may be taken, buried, blown over, covered or otherwise made difficult or impossible to find. It is the responsibility of the competitors to pay attention to the makings and to make intelligent decisions when following the course.

Two or more course markers placed together indicate an abrupt change in course direction. Multiple markings will be placed so that they can easily be seen while following the intended course. Markings will be placed between foot and head height and may be placed on the ground, trees, bushes, walls, buildings, or other stationary objects.

Competitors using GPS must follow the marked course and may not travel directly between checkpoints unless the course follows the strait line route. Cutting the course is against the rules and may lead to dead ends or impassable terrain.

The course will be marked by lights (chemical and electric) and other marking devices at night. Competitors are required to carry a light that is sufficient to find unlit markers in the event that lights are covered, fail or go missing.

Competitors/teams removing or changing the location or direction of course markings will be disqualified.

Each competitor is solely responsible for his/her involvement in the competition. He/she is the sole judge of whether he/she should begin and continue competing or not. Furthermore, the C.O.O. reserves the right, with or without consultation of a doctor, to bar a competitor from starting or continuing the event. Every competitor must sign a copy of the Official Rules and Regulations, a liability waiver/image release and an intellectual property release before being allowed to compete.

The competitors are responsible for familiarizing and preparing themselves for the legal and health requirements to enter and participate in the regions where the event takes place, including obtaining visas, vaccinations and other requirements.

The event organizers are not responsible for the behavior of event participants infringing upon the laws of the states/countries visited.

Individual and Team Uniform
Competitors must wear, at all times, the jersey and/or patches and/or stickers in compliance with the instructions by RacingThePlanet®. Failure to do so will result in the individual or team being held where the offense was discovered until it is corrected or disqualification. Each individual must wear a nationality flag no smaller than 5 x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) on each sleeve of his/her shirt at all times. Any incorrect patch placement, including nationality flags, will result in a one hour penalty. No other patches or advertising may be placed on the sleeves of shirts of jackets.

25 Meter Rule for Teams
Team members must never be out of sight of each other (or have a distance greater than 25 meters (75 feet) separating the first team member from the last team member) while competing on the course. Team members must go through the start line, checkpoints and finish line together.

Official competitors of the race must have with them at all times the items contained in the Mandatory Equipment List; these items may not be carried by any other individual including a teammate. Competitors will supply their own food and drink mixes for the entire event. The race organization will supply a daily ration of water. Additional gear requirements may be required for each event depending on expected terrain and weather conditions.

The 4 Deserts or RacingThePlanet may or may not have sponsors. Competitors will not be allowed to have individual sponsors that conflict with 4 Deserts or RacingThePlanet sponsors.  No sponsor badges are allowed on the sleeves of shirts or jackets.

Any team in which one member has withdrawn will be officially disqualified from the team competition, but each remaining individual can still continue in the individual category after a penalty has been accessed. Competitors who have competed as part of a team will not be eligible for prizes in the individual category.

Mandatory Equipment Lists may be checked by race organizers at any time. Random checks are likely. A penalty of (1) hour will be assessed for each missing item from the Mandatory Equipment List.

Absolute compliance with the Environmental Rules is required. Any breach will result in a penalty ranging from a minimum four (4) hour time penalty to disqualification. Proof of even one food wrapper intentionally left behind may result in disqualification.

Failure of any team or individual to immediately and respectfully comply with a direction or decision of a race official may result in the disqualification of the team or individual.

The official language of the event is English and all competitors are responsible for reading and understanding these Official Rules and Regulations and all official Race signs, directions, and oral instructions.

Protests must be filed with the C.O.O. within 30 minutes of a team's or individual's finish of the pertinent Stage. Protests may be made orally but must be made discretely and respectfully and only to the C.O.O. or event official. Any public protest or display of disgust with the contents of the Race Rules, their application or to a race official will result in severe time penalties or disqualification of the protesting team or individual.

The procedure for determining any protest will be determined by the C.O.O. and all decisions of the C.O.O. shall be final.

Any protest made in bad faith or in retaliation for previous protests will result in a penalty to the protesting team or individual.

Although we will endeavor to have the same Rules and Regulations for The Last Desert in Antarctica, we are at the mercy of the extreme climatic conditions. For example, we may camp on a ship, provide food and water, as needed, at any time and drastically modify the length of the course each day. However, under no circumstance will the course exceed 250 kilometers over seven days.

Awards for the Gobi March, Atacama Crossing, Sahara Race and RacingThePlanet events will be given as follows:



1st place: Trophy
2nd place: Trophy
3rd place: Trophy

1st place: Trophy
2nd place: Trophy
3rd place: Trophy



1st, 21-29, M1: Trophy
1st, 30-39, M2: Trophy
1st, 40-49, M3: Trophy
1st, 50-59, M4: Trophy
1st, 60-69, M5: Trophy
1st, 70 and above, M6: Trophy

1st, 21-29, W1: Trophy
1st, 30-39, W2: Trophy
1st, 40-49, W3: Trophy
1st, 50-59, W4: Trophy
1st, 60-69, W5: Trophy
1st, 70 and above, W6: Trophy



1st team: Trophy



Humanitarian Award: Trophy
Spirit Award: Trophy
Sportsmanship Award: Trophy
Cable-French Award: Trophy (Gobi March only)

All Competitors



Only those competitors who have completed the Gobi March, the Atacama Crossing and the Sahara Race may receive an invitation to The Last Desert.  Poor sportsmanship in any event may disqualify someone from receiving an invitation.  Competitors who qualify for The Last Desert will receive an invitation approximately one month after qualifying.  Depending on the number of qualifiers, The Last Desert may or may not be held annually. Only first place trophies will be awarded in the overall and women’s category.  No individual age group awards will be provided.  Teams may win the team division, but they must have completed all events with the same team member.  In any given year, if The Last Desert is held, one individual will be designated as the 4 Deserts champion.  The 4 Deserts champion will be determined by adding the cumulative rankings of all events completed and by assigning a value to those rankings.  For example, a first place ranking in the Gobi March would receive a score of one (1), a second place ranking in the Atacama Crossing would receive a score of two (2), a tenth place ranking in the Sahara Race would receive a score of ten (10) and a third place ranking in The Last Desert would receive a score of three (3) for a cumulative score of sixteen (16).  If that competitor has the lowest total score among competitors in The Last Desert, he or she will be designated the 4 Deserts champion.