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RACE INFO

Itinerary Sahara Race (Namibia) 2018

Host Town

    SWAKOPMUND, NAMIBIA

    The best way to get to the host town is:

    STEP 1: Fly into Johannesburg (or Cape Town) in South Africa

    STEP 2: Fly from Johannesburg (or Cape Town) to Walvis Bay in Namibia Walvis Bay is about 50kms / 31 miles from Swakopmund and will take about 40 minutes by car.

Thursday, 27 April
  • Volunteers arrive (any time) to the host town
  • Volunteers stay overnight in the host town
Friday, 28 April
  • Volunteer training (all day)
  • Competitors arrive (any time) to the host town and stay overnight
  • Priority Check-In for the 4 Deserts Club members (time to be confirmed)
Saturday, 29 April
  • Competitor Briefing (compulsory for ALL competitors)
  • Competitor Check-In: administrative, medical and equipment review.
  • Departure for Camp 1
Sunday, 30 April
  • Start / Stage 1
Monday, 1 May
  • Stage 2
Tuesday, 2 May
  • Stage 3
Wednesday, 3 May
  • Stage 4
Thursday, 4 May
  • Stage 5
Friday, 5 May
  • Stage 5 (continued)
Saturday, 6 May
  • Stage 6
  • Conclusion of the race / Food and drinks at finish line
  • Bus transfer to the host town
  • Awards Banquet
  • Competitors and volunteers overnight in the host town
Sunday, 7 May
  • Departure
*Note that all times are approximate and may change.

Location, Weather & Culture

Home to the oldest desert and the largest dunes in the world Namibia has some of the most stunning and iconic desert landscape.

Special permission has been granted to the 4 Deserts Race Series to hold the Sahara Race in the Skeleton Coast National Park. It is held around the Torra Bay area - about 300km / 196 miles north along the coast from the host town of Swakopmund.

The desert scenery includes, wide open red plains, scattered mountain outcrops, huge expanses of dramatic sand dunes, moon-like landscape, Atlantic waves crashing against the sandy desert shore-line, ship wrecks littering the coast line and a fascinating array of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the area as a result of the age of the desert.

LOCATION

Namibia is situated on the west coast of Southern Africa with South Africa to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west where crashing waves meet the oldest desert. Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa.

The capital of Namibia is Windhoek in the centre of the country. The host town for the Sahara Race (Namibia) is Swakopmund which is 350km west of Windhoek – it is a beautiful coastal desert town with German influence and has everything you want from a host town.

The race itself takes place in the Skeleton Coast National Park which is within the Namib Desert (meaning vast place) - the oldest desert in the world. The Namib Desert makes up 12% of Namibia’s total land mass and is also home to the largest recorded sand dunes (spanning 300 meters / 980 feet high and 32 kilometers / 20 miles long).

The Skeleton Coast National Park stretches for approximately 500km in the north of the country and protects about one-third of Namibia's coastline. It is associated with famous shipwrecks – but the name came from the bones that lined the beaches from whaling operations and seal hunts, but more than a few of the skeletons were human.

WEATHER

With an average rainfall of just 270mm a year, Namibia is considered to be one of the driest countries in Southern Africa. Twenty-two percent of Namibia's land is classed a desert with 70% arid or sub-arid.

Namibia has more than 300 days of sunshine per year. The winter months of May to September are generally dry with clear, cloudless and sunny skies. However on the coast there is a fog that rolls in later in the afternoon and early morning - generally clearing by mid-morning. It is this fog has proven to be a major hazard to ships - more than a thousand wrecks litter the Skeleton Coast.

During the race, temperatures on the coast can get down to between 0 and 10°C / 32 and 50 °F at night, but recover to 20-25°C / 68-77°F in the middle of the day. Just a few kilometers in land from the coast it immediately heats up without the coastal fog and breeze – expect temperatures up to 35°C / 95°F during the day inland in the red Namib.

Humidity is low and it can be windy.

CULTURE

The entire country is 825,000 square kilometers / 318,500 square miles, but it only has a population of about 2.2 million making it one of the least densely populated countries in the world with only Greenland, Falkland Islands, Mongolia and French Guiana being less densely populated.

Despite that it has a somewhat colourful history greatly influenced by the cultures of various colonizations over the decades. What has emerged is a true sense of unity in diversity, the coming together of at least 11 major ethnic groups, each celebrating their past while working together toward the future. First and foremost, Namibians are proud to be Namibian. And for good reason!

The different cultures include: Caprivians, Kavango, Tswanas, San, Coloured, Basters, Damara, Herero, Nama, Himba, Owambo, Whites.

The local team for the Sahara Race is selected from local tribes that live and around the Skeleton Coast – they love to be involved in the race and you will hear them chanting at dusk around the fire. They are primarily from the Damara Tribe.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The Sahara Race 2017 starts on 30 April and takes place in the beautiful country of Namibia. The race takes place in the Namib Desert in the Skeleton Coast National Park on the coast with the Atlantic Ocean.

Competitors will see a great diversity of scenery and terrain as they complete the 250 kilometer / 155 mile course. This includes running along the beach where the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean and through Seal colonies, through salt pans, past salt lakes which are home to flamingos, through the infamous dunes of the Namib desert, into dry riverbeds where a hint of water gives way to lush green vegetation, past deserted oil and diamond mines and across vast open red desert plains and hills.

More detail on the course can be seen below under the following topics. Final course notes will be given to each person in Namiba at the competitor check-in before the race.

MAP OF THE COURSE

The host town is Swakopmund, which is about 350 kilometers / 271 miles west of the capital city of Windhoek.

The course itself is a futher 300 kms / 186 miles north of Swakopmund, in and around beach of Torra Bay, in the the Skeleton Coast National Park. Special permissions have been obtained to be able to access this part of Namibia in May when it is normally closed to visitors and also to hold the race inside the National Park.

The map here shows the approximate route of the course showing each stage with the six Camps shown.


 

STAGE DISTANCES

The Sahara Race (Namibia) course follows a similar format to other races organised by the 4 Deserts Race Series: four stages of approximately 40 kilometers / 25 miles, the Long March of approximatley 80 kilometers / 50 miles which takes place over two days; and the final "sprint" to the final finishline which is less than 20 kilometers / 13 miles.

The actual planned distances for each stage in the Sahara Race (Namibia) 2017 are listed below:

STAGE 1 Sun, 30 April 39 km / 24 miles
STAGE 2 Mon, 1 May 40 km / 25 miles
STAGE 3 Tues, 2 May 43 km / 27 miles
STAGE 4 Weds, 3 May 42 km / 26 miles
STAGE 5 Thur, 4 May & Fri, 5 May 79 km / 49 miles
STAGE 6 Sat, 6 May 10 km / 6 miles


 

ELEVATION

The Sahara Race (Namibia) course does not have too much elevation gain or loss, you can see the full elevation chart below. Look at this in conjunction with the stage distances above.

Highest Point 600 meters / 2000 feet
Lowest Point 0 meters / 0 feet on the beach

 

TERRAIN

There is a lot of sand on the course of the Sahara Race (Namibia). This is primarily in the areas on the beach and in the dunes. Much of the rest of the course is also sandy but with a layer of fine stones on top which is very nice terrain for running. There are also rocky sections and salt pans - the salt pans vary between very hard packed mud and corral-like terrain (without any water).

There are no planned river crossings, however depending on the level of the tide it is possible you could get your feet wet. It does also depend on what happens during the wet season - it is possible that some of the river beds have some water in them during the race.


 

CHECKPOINTS

During each stage checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers / 6 miles along the course. All checkpoints include shade, water for drinking (normally in a large bottle for pumping), volunteers to check you in and offer support and medical staff.

At each checkpoint competitors must:

  • Be checked-in on arrival by the race staff.
  • Leave with the minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section (in general this is 1.5 liters).
  • Listen to and adhere to any instructions given by the race staff. This could be related to anything including advsere weather conditions (strong winds, thunderstorms, intense heat), visibility (sand storm, fog etc) or anything else.

At each checkpoint competitors can:

  • Rest for a short time and take advantage of the shade the checkpoint tent offers.
  • Seek medical advice and minor treatment if appropriate from the medical doctor stationed at each checkpoint .
  • Ask details about the distance, terrain and elevation of the next section of the course.

Please note that adverse weather conditions, new obstacles or similar can result in changes being made to the course.


 

THE LONG MARCH

On Stage 5 competitors complete a longer distance of approxiamte 80 kilometers / 50 miles which is nearly double the length of the standard stages. This stage is known as the Long March.

The stage follows the same format as the previous stages, with checkpoints are located every 10kms / 6 miles, however there is a designated "Overnight Checkpoint" where there will usually be tents to rest / sleep in and also hot water available to prepare a hot meal or hot drinks.


 

CUT OFF TIMES

A cut-off time is the time by which you must have left a checkpoint. There are cut-off times for every checkpoint on the course - these are announced in the morning briefing before the start of each Stage. They are designed to help you finish, not to stop you.

While the leaders are extremely fast (finishing 40 kilometers / 26 miles in 3 - 4 hours) the cut-off times for the back of the field are designed based on a 4 km per hour / 2.5 miles per hour walking speed. This means completing a 40 kilometer / 26 mile stage in 10 hours.

Cut-off times for the Long March are based on a similar speed but with additional time allowed for a rest at the Overnight Checkpoint.

QUICK FACTS Show All   |   Hide All

The Sahara Race 2017 will take place in the country of Namibia.

The home of the Sahara Race is Egypt but it has moved for this edition of the race due to the instability and safety concerns in North Africa and the Middle East.

Namibia possesses some of the most stunning scenery in Africa.

90% of Namibia is classed as desert, arid or semi-arid giving rise to the most beautiful and varied desert landscapes you can imagine.

The world's biggest sand dunes can be seen (and climbed) in the Namib Desert. There are many over 300 meters / 1,000 feet high and stretching more than 32 kilometers / 20 miles long.

Highlights of the Namib desert include sand seas, gravel plains, scattered mountain outcrops, huge expanses of massive sand dunes, moon-like landscape, Atlantic waves crashes against the sandy desert shore-line, views of many ship wrecks along the Skeleton Coast, small settlements, lone trees and a fascinating array of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the area as a result of the age of the desert.

The climate in Namibia in May (early winter) is typically dry and sunny with temperatures of around 35°C / 95°F during the day but can drop to 0°C / 32°F at night.

The coastal desert sections can experience deep fog this has caused many accidents at sea evidence of which can be seen in the form of ship wrecks. This is the reason for its name the "Skeleton Coast".

Namibia is one of the least populated countries in the world (with only Greenland, Mongolia, Falkland Islands and French Guiana have a lower population density)

Despite the small population it retains a great cultural diversity resulting from its many colonizations over the decades.

Approximately 20% of competitors run the entire course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% walk the entire course. The fastest completion time is expected to be around 25 hours and the slowest around 70 hours.

The Sahara Race (Namibia) is a self-supported race; competitors must carry everything they need for seven days on their backs. The average backpack weighs 9 kilograms / 20 pounds.

Many competitors are raising money for charities around the globe through their participation in the event.

Competitors use laptops and tablets in a specially designated Cybertent to write blogs and exchange emails during the event.

During the event, competitors, volunteers and staff are expected to consume approximately 20,000 liters of water.

Competitors are required to pass through up to 30 checkpoints throughout the seven-day event before crossing the finish line.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Show All   |   Hide All

What is the Sahara Race (Namibia) 2017?

The Sahara Race is a 250-kilometer / 150-mile, six-stage, seven-day, footrace across the deserts of Namibia. The Sahara Race is usually held in the Sahara Desert in Egypt but due to political instability and safety concerns in North Africa & the Middle East region the race has been located to the stunning country of Namibia which is home to the oldest desert in the world and the largest recorded sand dunes (300m high and 32 kilometers long!).

Is the Sahara Race an ultramarathon, adventure race, expedition race or other extreme race?

The Sahara Race is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series. We like to think of the 4 Deserts as its own unique category or genre. The races do not fit into the classic definitions of ultramarathon, adventure race or expedition race. Instead, we call the 4 Deserts "self-supported rough country footraces."

What is the format of the Sahara Race?

The race is 250-kilometer / 155-mile foot race. It is split into 6-stages which take place over 7-days. At the start of each stage all competitors start together and keep going until they reach the end of the stage - at this point the clock stops timing and competitors can rest and recover overnight before starting the next stage altogether.

The general format is that Stages 1 to 4 are each 40 kilometers / 25 miles. Stage 5, the "Long March" is 80 kilometers / 50 miles which takes place over two days (24-30 hours). Stage 6 then takes place on day 7 and is less than 20 kilometers / 12 miles.

The race is self-supported so competitors must carry their own personal gear, food and clothing in a backpack. The only assistance provided to them is checkpoints along the course (every 10 kilometers / 6 miles), water (plenty) for drinking and preparing food, tents to sleep in at night, and medical and management support.

Why was this location chosen for the Sahara Race?

Deserts are separated into four categories: subtropical, cool coastal, cold winter and polar. The 4 Deserts are traditionally located in the largest desert of each category, also representing the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on Earth. The home of the Sahara Race is in the Sahara Desert in Egypt - the hottest desert in the world. However due to political instability and safety concerns in North Africa & the Middle East region the race has been located to the stunning country of Namibia which is home to the oldest desert in the world and the largest recorded sand dunes (300m high and 32 kilometers long!).

The course has been set up to pass through one of the most beautiful, pristine and untouched land on Earth showing off desert landscapes at their best.

Do I have to sign up for the whole series or can I compete in just one event? Which event do I have to complete first?

You may complete the Sahara Race, Atacama Crossing (Chile) and Gobi March (China) at any time. There is no specific order in which you must do the events, and you do not have to complete all three. However, if you are interested in competing in The Last Desert (Antarctica), then you must have successfully completed at least two of the other 4 Deserts in order to qualify.

What is required in order to take part in the Sahara Race?

There is no qualification required to take part in the Sahara Race, but competitors must be healthy and maintain a certain level of fitness. All competitors are required to submit a medical form with information on fitness level, a form with emergency contact details and a stamped doctor's certificate two months before the event.

Who typically competes in the Sahara Race?

The typical competitor is a high achiever - someone who believes in maximizing every opportunity in life. Our competitors generally work full time, some have families, many perform community service and all lead healthy lifestyles. Our competitors consist of medical doctors, professors, investment bankers, small business owners, actors, entrepreneurs, journalists, top athletes and coaches, military professionals, managers and stay-at-home moms and dads. We have many father/son, father/daughter, mother/son and brother/sister competitors. The events are international with approximately 40 countries represented in each event. At a normal event, 20% of competitors are women and 80% of competitors are men.

How much time do I need to do the Sahara Race?

The Sahara Race consists of six stages that take place over seven days. Competitors typically arrive two days before the start of the event and are free to leave any time after the event concludes. Make sure, though, not to miss the fun part - the Awards Banquet! A full itinerary can be viewed on the Sahara Race website.

I don't think I can run 250 kilometers, can I still make the cut-off times?

The event is set up to allow for generous cut-off times. Approximately 20% of competitors will run most of the course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% will walk the entire course. A competitor that can complete 40 kilometers / 25 miles in 8-10 hours should be able to meet the cut-off times.

How much training is required?

Our competitors are busy people we don't expect them to train all the time, but a minimum amount of training is expected. Some competitors complete the event with minimal training; others want to win and spend many more hours training. Each competitor has his or her own goal. We simply want people to finish.

There are a number of resources available to help people prepare and train for the Sahara Race; some of these are listed below:

  • Expert articles prepared by doctors, health and sports professionals on a variety of topics related to training, preparation and medical care. All of the articles are available on the RacingThePlanet Store website and in a special Competitor Area of the Sahara Race website.
  • The expert article titled Preparing for an Event is a particularly useful to help get started.
  • Competitor blogs are a great way to collect training tips to implement into a personal training plan. The blogs also provide a way for competitors to share questions and advice with one another.
  • Contact us for more information or to get connected with other competitors.
How far in advance do I need to sign up?

4 Deserts Race Series and Roving Races are very popular some races sell out more than one year in advance. We recommend that prospective competitors complete an online registration as early as possible and at least six months before the start of the race. Places are confirmed upon receipt of the deposit payment. Once the race is full, new applications will be added to the waiting list.

What is included in the entry fee?

The entry fee for the Sahara Race includes almost everything from the arrival at the event hotel on the Friday before the race start until departure on Sunday after the race conclusion. Specifically, this is:

  • International staff and medical support throughout event
  • Bottled water for the duration of the event
  • Campfire with hot water available for cooking / making warm drinks in the mornings and evenings for the duration of the event
  • Transportation to Camp 1 and from the finish line to the event hotel
  • Two nights of hotel accommodation (one night pre-event and one night post-event, double occupancy)
  • Pre-race and post-race breakfasts and one pre-race lunch
  • Awards Banquet ticket (including dinner, awards presentation and photo slideshow)
  • Finisher's medal
  • Official event t-shirt or jacket

What medical support is provided?

A fully qualified team of medical doctors from United States, many of whom have attended a number of 4 Deserts races over the years, works at each event. Most doctors are emergency physicians with affiliations at Stanford University and other reputable medical schools.

During the race, there is a medical doctor at each checkpoint to offer assistance and care on the course. There is also a medical tent located at every campsite where competitors can seek medical assistance or advice. Note that this is a self-supported race, so each competitor must bring the mandatory medical items listed on the equipment list.

What equipment do I need?

Competitors must carry ALL mandatory equipment items, including food and electrolytes, at all times during the event. An equipment list with mandatory gear requirements can be found on the equipment page of the Sahara Race website. The equipment list has also a section of optional and recommended gear items.

How much does an average competitor backpack weigh?

When full, most competitor backpacks range in weight from 7-15 kilograms / 15-33 pounds, with the average backpack weighing 9 kilograms / 20 pounds (without water). Note that the backpack weight will decrease each day as food is eaten and items are used along the course.

Where do competitors sleep each night?

At the end of each stage, competitors, volunteers and staff gather in incredible campsites managed by a local camp team. The desert campsites are typically located in spectacular places with clear views of the nighttime skies. Competitors sleep in tents of up to ten people. There are also camp fires in the mornings and evenings to boil water and cook food.

How do I get to the start of the race?

You only need to get to the race hotel in the host town of the race. After that all logistics for getting to the start line and from the finish line are managed by us for you.

For the Sahara Race (Namibia) the host town is Swakopmund - to get there from the capital of Windhoek, this is a 40 minute flight (to Walvis Bay) or a 4 hour drive.

We provide information on common flight routes and a local contact to help you make arrangements once you get to the country of the race. This includes additional nights in a hotel, airport transfers, domestic flights and any additional travel arrangements. Once you have confirmed your place by paying the entry fee, we will send you more information on travel arrangements.

How can my friends, relatives and supporters follow the race?

The Sahara Race website is updated daily during the race with real time breaking news, stage updates, results, competitor blogs, features, and hundreds of photos and videos. Supporters can follow the event by:

Can I volunteer at the Sahara Race?

The 4 Deserts Race Series typically accepts 16-20 volunteers for the Sahara Race each year. Those interested in volunteering should complete a volunteer application as early as possible we accept volunteers on a rolling basis and receive many more applications than we can accept. The volunteer team works hard during the event, but the job is fun and very rewarding many volunteers return to 4 Deserts races year after year.

What else is special about the Sahara Race?

Each event highlights the very best of the area - the most spectacular, unspoiled scenery and culture in the country. The hope is share the beauty and special feelings so that we can work to preserve the landscape and culture for generations to come. At the Sahara Race (Namibia) competitors will experience the friendship and warmth of the local people and the most stunning desert landscapes including:

  • rolling dunes that can be seen for miles,
  • waves crashing onto the desert sand where it meets the Atlantic Ocean
  • the local people in small settlements coming out to cheer you on
  • African sunsets in the big open skies
  • some the highest dunes in the world

What is the best part of the Sahara Race?

Many say that the best part of the race is meeting other competitors and making new friends from all over the world. Many competitors meet up after the race, stopping to have dinner when passing through another competitors hometown or getting together regularly for social events. Others choose to register for additional races as teammates. Some competitors have even met their future spouses!

Can I run for a charity?

Absolutely - we encourage it. Giving back is one of the primary themes of the 4 Deserts mission. Many of our competitors have raised significant amounts of money for charities all over the world.

Any last words to describe the 4 Deserts?

Life enhancing for all, life changing for many

 

EQUIPMENT

Competitors are required to carry mandatory equipment items during the week of the event. Mandatory equipment will be reviewed at Competitor Check-In at the host hotel and on the course during the week of the event. Failure to have an item will result in a penalty or not being able to start / continue the event.

Download the Equipment List to make sure that you know what is required for each mandatory equipment item. You can also review the photos and descriptions of each item below. All items are available at the RacingThePlanet Store.

Your backpack / rucksack should be capable of carrying all of your mandatory and optional equipment. A 25-30L backpack is optimal. When full, most competitor backpacks range in weight from 7-15kg / 15-33lbs while the average backpack weighs 9kg / 20lbs without water.

Note: There is no one backpack model that works for everyone.

The waterproof bag must be a minimum of 35 liters in size. There is a chance of rain, and it is vital that you keep the contents of your backpack (in particular, your sleeping bag and camp clothes) dry. Using a combination of smaller waterproof bags does not fulfill this requirement.

The minimum requirement combination of sleeping bag plus bag liner is 0°C / 32°F. If you are sensitive to cold temperatures you may want to look at combinations below this temperature.

Competitors are required to carry two light sources during the event one must be a headlamp or handheld torch. Both lights must be strong enough to use when on the course at night on uneven terrain.

The red flashing light is required in in addition to your headlamp and back-up light. This is to be attached to the rear of your backpack and switched on when you are on the course in the dark.

A small knife or multi-tool has multiple uses during the event.

A whistle can be used to attract attention in case of an emergency. Note that many backpacks include a whistle on the buckle - this is not sufficient. You must have an emergency whistle.

A mirror can be used to attract attention in case of an emergency.

The survival bivvy / bag must be a closed bivvy bag (not a blanket) made of reflective material. We recommend a thick bag that you can repack easily as you may want to use it over your sleeping bag in cold or wet weather conditions.

Any model of compass is adequate however, a compass as a part of a watch is not sufficient.

Note: There is no navigation in the event.

Ideally bring more than one eating utensil (e.g. fork or spoon) in case you lose one.

You must have minimum of 30 ml / 1 fl oz of sunscreen. Choose a brand with high SPF that is waterproof, sweat-proof and non-greasy.

Lip sunscreen is necessary to protect lips from the sun.

Bring an adequate 7-day supply (at least 12 mild pain relief pills) so that you are not dependent on medication from the event medical team.

Important Note: You should seek advice from your doctor about any medication that you plan to take during the race, including any form of painkillers. If you take painkillers, Tylenol / Paracetamol / Acetaminophen are preferred over anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen / Neurofen / Advil / Motrin / Naprosyn and others. It is NOT advised to take anti-inflammatory medication on the course. Please read the expert article called Painkillers Used during Ultramarathons for more details.

The following list is a minimum requirement for the blister kit. You may need more supplies based on your experience and prior history of foot blisters:

  • 10 x alcohol wipes
  • 2 x hypodermic needles or safety pins
  • 1 x roll of paper tape (i.e. Micropore)
  • 1 x roll of elastic tape (i.e. Elastikon)
  • 5 x Spenco 2nd Skin or Compeed pads

Note 1: Lubricant such as Bodyglide or Loob is also highly recommended. Foot powder is recommended for feet that sweat a lot.

Note 2: You should try to anticipate the amount of supplies you will need for 7 days. If you do not bring enough supplies, you could be at risk of developing more severe blisters that could jeopardize your ability to finish the race.recommended. Foot powder is recommended for feet that sweat a lot.

The compression bandage must be a minimum size of 7.5 cm/3 in wide x 4.5 m/14 ft long (6 cm/2.4 inches in diameter).

A minimum of 10 safety pins are required for attaching your bib number and event patch and for multiple uses during the event. Heavy duty, large pins work best.

A minimum of 60 ml / 2 fl oz of alcohol gel is required. Alcohol wipes cannot replace alcohol gel, but you may choose to carry both.

A 7-day supply of toilet tissue is mandatory as no tissues / paper will be provided for toilet use. It is recommended to also bring wet wipes.

Competitors should wear trail or running shoes. Consider buying your shoes 1 to 2 sizes larger than you would normally wear to account for swelling and tape for blisters.

Two pairs of socks are required, but 6-7 pairs are recommended to allow for a fresh pair for each day on the course. Many competitors wear two layers of socks at one time.

Two pairs of shorts / tights / pants are required. One pair must cover your full leg.

One shirt is required, but we recommend two shirts, including one that is long-sleeved for sun protection and / or warmth in cold temperatures. Quick dry materials in light colors are recommended.

Temperatures in the desert can get very cold. This must be a warm top (preferably fleece or down jacket). An alternative is a thick, long-sleeve capilene top.

The jacket must be fully waterproof (preferably also windproof) to keep you dry and warm.

A rain poncho is required for additional warmth and wet protection. It is lightweight and easy to put on / take off when the weather changes.

It is required that you wear a cap with a neck cover (such as legionnaire design) or have a cap with a Buff to cover both your head and neck.

A warm hat is required for cold temperatures. A Buff does not fulfill this requirement.

Full finger gloves are required for warmth in the cold.

Any pair of UV protection sunglasses fulfills this requirement. Only 1 pair is mandatory but it is recommended to take 2 pairs as sunglasses are often lost or broken.

You must provide your own nationality patches to wear on both sleeves of all tops (including jackets) throughout the event. These are in addition to the 4 Deserts patches which are provided by the 4 Deserts.

We will send you a set of eight 4 Deserts patches approximately 6 weeks before the event. You do not need to purchase these patches.

You must have a hydration system that is able to hold 2.5 liters of water at all times. The most common choices are:

Bottles: These allow for more flexibility they can be attached to the shoulder straps of your backpack, put in a front pack, kept in the backpack with a SmarTube or carried by hand.

Hydration bladders: A popular choice, but sometimes difficult to know how much fluid you have drunk; can also be difficult to fill quickly.

Maintaining your body's electrolyte balance is critical for a safe race. It is strongly recommended to bring a mixture of electrolyte tablets and electrolyte drink powders. You must bring a minimum of:

  • Enough powder to make a minimum of 30 liters of drink OR
  • Enough salt tablets / Endurolytes for 30 hours on the course (usually minimum is 1.5 tablets per hour=45 tablets) OR
  • A combination of both, e.g. powder for 15 liters of water and tablets for 15 hours on the course.
  • If you expect to spend more than 30 hours on the course then you should increase this accordingly. It is vital that you test your electrolyte plan during your training and follow the amounts recommended on the packets.

You are responsible for your own food for the duration of the event. You need a meal for the night before the race as well as a minimum of 2,000 calories / day during the race (7 days) for a minimum of 14,000 calories in total.

We recommend using freeze dried meals as your main food source. Hot water will be available at all campsites.

We also recommend considering energy bars/ gels, nutrition supplements, drink mixes and on-the-go snacks to supplement your regular meals.

Behind The Scenes Show All   |   Hide All

Campfire Comfort

A signature 4 Deserts race component is the evening campfire. Each campsite has a handmade fire managed by two locals with wood that has been carefully transported to the desert. Water is boiled and kept hot for cooking meals and making warm drinks. The campfire also serves as a heater in the morning cold, a central meeting point for breakfast and dinner meals, and for simply shooting the breeze after a long day.

Flags For All Nations

The Sahara Race 2017 is a truly international event with over 40 nationalities represented. To welcome each and every competitor, we make sure that we fly the flag of every competitor’s nation at the start and finish lines of each stage. Our flags are handmade by a traditional  sailmaker, Mr. Poon, who lives and works in Hong Kong. Mr. Poon is a master in his trade, having originally been trained to make sails for junks that used to ply the South China Seas.

World Class Volunteers

Volunteers are carefully selected from around the world to ensure a variety of nationalities, language abilities, fitness levels and general experiences working in challenging conditions. Approximately four volunteer applications are received for every available position. View our Sahara Race 2017 volunteer team.

Local Expertise

The 4 Deserts employs a team of local Namibian staff including wildlife experts on the ground. Together, the local team provides invaluable local expertise and the manpower necessary for keeping the race moving each day and the camps working without hitches during race week.

Checkpoints

Checkpoints are spaced at approximately 10 kilometer intervals, with the final checkpoint of the day being the finish line and campsite. At each checkpoint, competitors are supplied with 1.5 liters of water as well as shade and a place to rest. Once all competitors have passed through the
checkpoint, it is dismantled. No trace of the checkpoint is left in the desert.

A Path of Pink Flags

A course team works around the clock to mark all 250-kilometers of the course using mostly small pink flags to make the route as visible as possible. Other course markings include pink ribbon, chalk spray, reflective tape and glowsticks. Competitors must follow these markers from checkpoint to checkpoint.

The Glowing Path

The 4 Deserts uses up to 3,000 glowsticks to mark the Sahara Race course at dusk and throughout the dark hours of night. The glowsticks guide the way for competitors during The Long March, offering maximum light while withstanding the heat and other harsh elements of the desert.

Sweeping and Roving

On each stage two volunteers help sweep the course. This involves walking at the back of the pack and making sure that all competitors have passed through the checkpoints safely.

Volunteers and staff will also be roving the course at each stage. This involves walking or riding in a vehicle between checkpoints and camp.

4x4 Vehicles

The Sahara Race uses up to thirty 4x4 vehicles which support the race. The
drivers of the 4x4 vehicles are some of the best desert drivers in world, each with decades of experience driving in the Namib Desert. A special characteristic of the Sahara Race is the ability to place checkpoints and campsites in remote, soft sand areas.

Cybertent

The Cybertent is the competitors’ lifeline to the outside world. The tent is a unique concept in multi-day stage races as a place for competitors to read emails and blog comments that have been sent to them over the preceding 24 hours. Competitors have the option to send emails and update blogs from the Cybertent at each campsite at the end of the day’s stage. The blogs endure as a permanent archive of their experiences in the desert and are accessible through the race website

Multimedia

There is a fast growing global community interested in 4 Deserts races - not only friends, family, supporters and former competitors, but also a fanbase of people inspired by the dream of one day competing. To keep up with the demands of this expanding community, we are constantly developing our media capabilities.

The 4 Deserts uses a combination of satellite and mobile communications to distribute content from the races to our website and to broadcasters around the world. During each stage of the race we post hourly updates to the website about race leaders and individual competitors. We also post daily video highlights captured by staff, volunteers and competitors on Flip videos.

At least 150 photographs are uploaded daily from the race capturing the locations, highlights and spirit of the event. We also distribute daily features about competitors and the locations as well as stage updates on the race website. Overall positions and timings are logged on the website as soon as possible after the last competitor crosses the finish line of each stage.

The Bedouin Way

Sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, an oasis appears with water. Take
time to enjoy the colours of the Great Namib Desert.

Leave Only Footprints

Catering to the needs of more than 200 people in the Namib Desert and making sure to leave no trace of their presence is an important part of putting on the Sahara Race. Fortunately, our competitors are overwhelmingly attentive to this matter and make this task as easy for us as possible. We institute a system of time penalties for any competitor seen littering. Sweepers also follow behind the final competitors removing course markers and remaining litter from the ground.

Finisher Medals

Competitors who successfully complete every stage of the Sahara Race 2017 will receive a medal at the finish line. The 4 Deserts specially designs the medals and has them manufactured in Malaysia which is renowned as having the world’s best pewter.

Expedition Foods

Expedition Foods is the official food partner for the Sahara Race 2017. Expedition Foods pioneered the concept of expedition foods by providing highly nutritious, flavorsome, easy-to-store and prepared foods and has built areputation on quality, service and choice, boasting arguably the largest range of meals available in Europe. Expedition Foods’ 800 Kcal range is the highest calorie to weight food available on the market. Expedition Foods’ objective is to provide a mix of traditional meals with dishes from around the globe. The diverse menu, which appeals to all tastes, is coupled with continual innovation and product development.

Marmot

Marmot is the official clothing sponsor of the Sahara Race 2017, providing race tops for competitors, staff and volunteers. Marmot is committed to designing the highest quality performance product. Marmot also sponsored the clothing for Sahara Race 2014 and the Sahara Race 2016.

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