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Pre-Race: Breaking News 7

Sat, 1 October 2016 at 22:00

Competitors have arrived at Camp 1 where they were welcomed by a local Chilean band (pan pipes and singing).  The temperature is a mild 11C / 52F at 10pm well after the sun has gone down.


Video - summary of pre-race day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-Zx6DKyWQ0&feature=youtu.be

Photos - from check-in and arrival at Camp 1 http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

Stage Update - summarising Camp 1: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/stage_updates

Stage 1: Navigation by Rock starts tomorrow at 08:00 - 36.4km / 22.8 miles

Pre-Race: Breaking News 6

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 13:15

The competitor check-in of the Atacama Crossing 2016 has just concluded and competitors are enjoying lunch and are socialising around the host hotel, Hotel de San Pedro de Atacama. The official part of the day started at 9:00 when competitors, staff and volunteers gathered for the Official Race Briefing. The founder of the 4 Deserts Series, Mary Gadams, welcomed all participants to the Atacama Desert for the 12th edition of the race and the  51st 4 Deserts race overall. The management team, Event Manager Zeana Haroun, Event Director Riitta Hanninen, Checkpoint Captain Tony Brammer and the medical Director Jay Sharp briefed competitors about the week ahead, including course details, safety, key rules and medical items. Excitement was in the air although the setting was very relaxed by the pool side of the host hotel. Many old faces were in the crowd, including the 20 Grand Slam and Grand Slam Plus competitors, 4 Deserts Club member Ash Mokhhari who is coming to his 20th (!) 4 Deserts Race, and 8th consecutive Atacama Crossing, and many others who are here to compete their 4 Deserts in South America.

The competitors check-in and in particular the equipment check was perhaps the most exciting part of the day. Most competitors were well prepared but some had to go out shopping for the missing mandatory items. The lightest back was  Tommy Chen’s, the favorite contender an Grand Slam competitor from Taiwan. His backpack was 6.5 kg. The heaviest backpack, 17 kg, belongs to Naoka Uedi from Team AHO from Japan.  Competitors will start the travel to Camp 1, the Rainbow Valley, at 15:00.


Pre-Race: Breaking News 5

Fri, 30 September 2016 at 20:00

As the sunsets over San Pedro at 7:30pm – there is a feeling of nerves and excitement among competitors.  Hotel San Pedro, where competitors are all staying tonight, is full of the noise of rustling behind closed doors as competitors check and re-check their equipment and food ready for the race check-in tomorrow.  Mark Russell from the United Kingdom said “my backpack is a little on the chubby side because I refuse to believe the accepted wisdom that 2500 calories a day is enough – so I’ve thrown in a few Cornish pasties for luck.”


Today volunteer training was completed and nineteen Grand Slam and Grand Slam Plus contenders as well as 4 Deserts Club member, Ash Mokhtari from Iran / Canada completed priority race check-in.  Top female contender, and the first woman to attempt the Grand Slam Plus, Jax Mariash Koudele from Canada / United States had her backpack weighed in at a super light 6.75 kilos / 14.88 pounds.

Jon Bille from Denmark observed that “Waking up in the desert to a sunrise is spectacular – silent, colourful and with solitude.” He’s also noted that “It’s cold in the Atacama Desert in the morning”. The beauty and the cold will be exaggerated when they leave San Pedro.  Harriet Naughton arrived today from the United Kingdom she has been “Gleaning the top tips from these pros,” and found that “the common theme is definitely to ´take it easy´ at the beginning”.  Brian Lang has landed from Canada and described it as “similar to Vancouver with the majestic mountain range backdrop with the exception that much of the green lushness in western Canada is replaced with the harsh dryness of the Chilean desert.”   The first Sri Lankan’s to join a race outside of Sri Lanka have arrived – Shihan John and Ruvan Rantunga have also arrived.

The rest and relaxation is over – tomorrow the race briefing will check-in will start at 09:00 and the entire race contingent board buses in the afternoon for about 2 hours to Camp 1 in the Rainbow Valley.

More than 100 photos from today in San Pedro can be seen on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

Pre-Race: Breaking News 4

Fri, 30 September 2016 at 12:30

Today is the last day of rest for competitors.  Tomorrow they will start with a race breifing at 09:00 and then race check-in before being taken by bus to Camp 1, Rio Grande, in Rainbow Valley (Valle Arcoris).  There they will spend their first night camping with their tentmates  at 3,200 meters / 10,500 feet – this is the highest (and coldest) part of the course.   San Pedro de Atacama, where they are currently, is at 2,400 meters / 7,900 feet.   


Yet more competitors from around the world have decended into the host town for the Atacama Crossing, San Pedro de Atacama yesterday.  Ludy Dvorak from the Czech Republic arrived without his bags (lost by the airline) but has since been reunited with them.  Daniel Almanza arrived from Mexico exhausted after a day and a half of travelling.  Sarah Sawyer, one of the women’s favourites, arrived with her husband Tom from the United Kingdom after what “felt like 347 hours of travel”.   Riz Ahktar from the United Kingdom randomly met Christian Spangenberger from Germany en route as well as the video team from Christian Zheng Sheng Association, Alman and William.  This group had met previoiusly at the Gobi March last year but were joined by some others including Thomas Stordalen, “the Norwegian Viking”.  Ian Milne from Ireland was also spotted doing a monster trip from Singapore to San Pedro without stops, while those who spotted him, Rich Cohen and Lisa Akeroyd travelling on the same flight from Sydney opted for a stopover in SantiagoAnother Brit, David Grosse arrived yesterdasy and had an easy start with a “wander aroud town looking for luck” -  the first thing he saw was a Japanese man running down the dusty road and on out into the desert – compression tights on and a bottle of water clutched in hand.  Tina Beigelbeck was out exploring the lunar landscape around San Pedro.   While Allen Kerton, Eric & Paul Chan, the Blaibergs and Bruno Seguin from Australia went further a field up to El Tatio Geysers.  Jon Bille from Denmark arrived yesterday and after a short run to adjust to the altitude he went on “a quest to find a helping hand to stich the last patches to tops”. Grand Slam Plus Contender, Cynthia Fish from Canada took on this job herself while sitting in San Pedro Square.

Dirk Diemont from South Africa has been in San Pedro a week now.  He went out of his way to tell us that “San Pedro is definitely one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, places that I have visited. Meeting the runners as they arrive in town has also been special and there is now an amazing atmosphere. Even though this is my first 4 Deserts race I already feel part of a big family. I am now looking forward to the start on Sunday.” 


Stage Zero – getting to the race – continued for some.  Jenny McIvor and Tia Beckman were stuck in Miami over night due to a flight cancellation but are have now arrived in Santiago with most of the bags. They identifed a fellow competitor (maybe by the patches, bottles or velcro on his shoes), Kenny Yiu from Hong Kong in the same situation.  Many others are either lying low (not yet spotted out and about) or are still en route.   Everyone should have arrived before bed time tonight. 


Read the Atacama Crossing 2016 pre-race press release to find out  more about the field: http://www.4deserts.com/assets/includes/get_full_features.php?id=636

The blogs will also keep you entertained: www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs


Stage 1 of the Atacama Crossing will start on Sunday, 2 October at 08:00 (Chile time) and is 36.4km / 22.8 miles.  This is is awaits competitors on the course,

Pre-Race: Breaking News 3

Thu, 29 September 2016 at 00:15

It is currently 00:15 on Thurs, 29 Sept in San Pedro. Competitors have three more nights sleeping in a comfortable bed (including tonight) before they head to their first Camp in the Atacama Desert.

San Pedro is buzzing with competitors who are arriving from 42 countries around the world!  The most recent arrivals include Tim Treloar from the United Kingdom and Kevin Bass from the United States whose first impression of  the area was "rocks and sand!".  Grand Slammer Avi Blaiberg from Israel (and his wife Yael who will again be on the volunteer team), Jareb Steines and Brendan Funk from the United States, Jason Huang from Taiwan / Hong Kong, Thanh Vu from Vietnam, Filippo Rossi from Switzerland, Canadian brothers Paul and Eric Chan (who are about to start their 5th desert race this year in their quest to enter the Guinness Book of Records) and Allen Kerton were spotted carb-loading with the top contenders Jax Mariash Koudele from Cananda / USA and Tommy Chen from Taiwan.  The very colourful 14-person Team AHO from Japan have also arrived in San Pedro de Atacama - you can't miss them when you see them.

Many more competitors (and staff) are enroute travelling many hours (or even days) to get to the start of the race.  The Belgian contingent of Ann Verhaeghe and Joost Muylle as well as Daniel Almanza from Mexico have started the journey.  Tia Beckman and Jenny McIvor are travelling from the British Virgin Islands and have made it as far as Miami so far.  Lisa Akeroyd and Rich Cohen are also en route from Sydney.

The temperatures in San Pedro are currently a beautiful 26C / 80F during the day and 15C / 59F at night with clear blue skies - and that is expected to remain for the duration of the race.  Although in the open desert (out of the comfort of the oasis of San Pedro) it is a few degrees higher during the day and a few degrees lower at night - the course team have recorded 32C/ 90F on the infamous salt flats.

The course is looking great with pink flags being placed to mark the way. The water in the slot canyon is lower than on previous years - generally below the knees, but with a few surprises.

Watch this video to get a good idea of what lies ahead during the Atacama Crossing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWmYbnm_GBU

*Tommy Chen from Taiwan on his first run in the Atacama Desert.

Pre-Race: Breaking News 2

Tue, 27 September 2016 at 04:00

The countdown clock for the Atacama Crossing 2016 says 5 days.  That's 5 days until all competitors will be at the start line ready for Stage 1.  Before that they will sleep at least one night in San Pedro, have a detailed breifing, go through race check-in which includes having every item of equipment checked, travel to the desert and their spend their first night camping under a starry sky at 3,000 meters / 9,800 feet in the Atacama Desert.

Competitors are already being welcomed to the lovely host town of San Pedro de Atacama - many travelling for days to get here.  Grand Slammer Filippo Rossi from Swtizerland has been here for more than one week.  David Souza, from the United States and also doing the Grand Slam, has brought his family so everyone can join in his relaxing / tapering.  Yet another Grand Slammer Thanh Vu from Vietnam has been out for some training runs in the desert.  Bo Edenfall from Sweden who will be on the volunteer team this year (having competed in 2015) has been roaming the mud streets of San Pedro.  4 Deserts friends are re-uniting, including Olivia Chui from Australia / Hong Kong and Tina Beigelbeck from Texas who met up in Santiago to head to the Atacama Desert together.   Canadian brothers Eric & Paul Chan are making their way across the border from Bolivia to complete race number 5 in their quest to enter the Guiness Book of Records.   No sign yet of the favourites Tommy Chen from Taiwan, Ben Dame from Germany, Iulian Rotariu from Romania, Jax Mariash Koudele from Canada / USA, Sarah Sawyer from England.   Many other have not started their journey and will only arrive in San Pedro de Atacama on Friday. 

Blogs are being updated with everyone's final thoughts and preparations before they head to Camp 1 in the Rainbow Valley for Stage 1 of the six-stage race.  http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs

Pre-Race: Breaking News 1

Wed, 2 December 2015 at 09:00

Atacama Crossing 2016 will start on Sunday, 2 October 2016. The first Pre-Race Breaking News will be sent out in the week leading up to the race on Tuesday, 27 Sept 2016

Stage 1: Breaking News 5

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 20:00

Stage 1 of the Atacama Crossing 2016 concluded 18:09 (10 hours after the start this morning) when the last competitor, Giovanna Caria from Italy reached Camp 2.   Giovanna was with a group including Team AHO from Japan.

It was a tough day for most people - mainly because of the altitude and the heat (still a surprise to people given the cold night before the early in the morning). 

However the consensus was that the stage was tough but beautiful with amazing views and some llama sightings.  

Troy Byers from the United States gave a good sumary of Stage 1" The terrain here is fascinating.  absolutely beautiful.  Part of today’s trail was on an old Incan route tht had etchings in he canyon walls.  Oh yes, much of the course was through single trail st the bottom of canyons.  Absolutely gorgeous. "

FOLLOW THE RACE AS IT HAPPENS AT www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/live

STAGE 1 RESULTS: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

STAGE 1 PHOTOS: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

STAGE 1 VIDEO: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/videos

STAGE 1 UPDATE: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/stage_updates

STAGE 1 BLOGS: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs


Stage 2 starts on Monday, 3 October at 08:00.  It is 44.1km / 27.6 miles and will start by taking competitors through the slot canyons - 5kms in and out of water between the ankles and thighs.


Stage 1: Breaking News 4

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 16:30

The Top 10 results from Stage 1 of the Atacama Crossing are listed below (the full results will be added to the website tonight)

1st. 118, Neill Weir, Northern Ireland, 4:04:37 (that 4hrs 4 minutes and 37 seconds)
2nd. 29, Ben Dame, Germany, 4:05:54
3rd. 93.Filippo Rossi, Switzerland, 4:09:18
4th. 24, Tommy Chen, Taiwan, 4:16:20
5th. 94, Iulian Rotariu, Romania, 4:18:47
6th. 71, Jax Mariash Koudele, US / Canada, 4:22:40 - 1st WOMAN
7th. 51, Daniel Huber, Switzerland, 4:43:18
8th. 98, Sarah Sawyer, United Kingom, 4:47:36 - 2rd WOMAN
9th. 99, Tom Sawyer, United Kingdom, 4:47:36
10th. 97, Isabelle Sauve, Canada, 4:49:33 - 3rd WOMAN

As at 16:30 (8 and a half hours after the start of the race), 89 people had completed Stage 2.   The most recent people to arrive were Nuria Borrell from Spain, Elena Zurmuehlen, Laura Clark from Scotland, Tia Beckmann from South Africa / British Virgin Island and Oliva Chui from Australia / Hong Kong.

We'll be posting a full set of scores soon and pictures from Stage 1 in a few hours.

STAGE 1 PHOTOS: have been posted http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

STAGE 1 VIDEO: can be watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JRk-bJ1rm8

Stage 1: Breaking News 3

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 15:10

Stage 1 of the Atacama Crossing is over half way. Checkpoint 2 has closed and the last competitors are traversing the ancient Inca road toward Checkpoint 3. The rock walls of the road and the surrounding desert reflects heat at 15:30, the hottest time of the day. All are looking strong and making steady progress towards Camp 2 located on a cliff above Rio Salado.  

The last competitors past the half way mark to Checkpoint 3 were Giovanna Caria, Cynthia Fish and finally the Team AHO from Japan. At the same time at Camp has received 70 competitors, some of the last ones Richard Cohen and Lisa Akeroyd of UK, Alain Esseiva of Switzerland and Ian Milne of Ireland, both suited to the temperatures of Atacama as residents of Singapore.

Meanwhile at Camp Inca the faster competitors are already resting and recovering from the tough day. South African Dirk Diemont who finished among the top competitors said: “I feel so privileged to be here. Today was a great day. We ran wrong way in the canyon for a while and I got to Checkpoint 2 with low on water, but it doesn’t make the day any less amazing.”

Lukasz Paszkowski, who is here with his brother Piotr, asked where the nearest McDonalds is when he approached camp.

Stage 1: Breaking News 2

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 10:40

Checkpoint 1 of Stage 1 closed at 10:40am - 2 hours and 40 minutes after the start of the race.  That is 9.1km / 5.7 miles from the start of  Stage 1.

The first through the checkpoint were:

1st Neil Weir from Northern Ireland in 56 minutes

2nd - Ben Dame from Germany in 58 minutes

3rd - Filippo Rossi  from Switzerland in 59 minutes

Shelley Bole from South Africa said "I felt like I had to pinch myself in this section.  I've waited for soo long to get here that I could hardly believe it was actually happening. It's beautiful out here"

Cynthia Fish from Canada greeted the checkpoint staff cheerily but commented on the lack of air at this elevation which makes breathing more difficult.

Cynthina is happy hanging behind with Team AHO "because they have good tunes".  Team AHO were the last to arrive and leave the checkpoint but were all very happy bringing with them the "party at the back".

Have a look at:

COMPETITOR LIST - to read read bios on each competitor - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/competitors

COURSE INFORMATION - to see the elvation profil and distances - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/course


Stage 1: Breaking News 1

Sun, 2 October 2016 at 08:30

The Atacama Crossing 2016 officially started at  8:00am this morning (Chile time)- Sunday 2 October.

Competitors full of energy and excitement for the first day bounded across the start line ready to take on the race.

The night ended up being quite cold but the sun rising across the canyons warmed up the rainbow valley. 

Team AHO from Japan was in full colorful form as they huddled together minutes before the race start.

Competitors will be treated to spectacular scenery as they descend into canyons, up and down rolling hills and across wide open desert before going up an old Inca trading route where there is a lot of rock art  from the Inca and Aymara traders who used this route (grafitti from more than 600 years ago!).   They will then descend into Camp which is on a cliff above the gorge made by Rio Salado.  Today there are four checkpoints - including the final one which is at Camp 2 - The Inca Camp.

Don't forget to look at the video, photos and blogs from pre-race.

Stage 2: Breaking News 4

Mon, 3 October 2016 at 23:30

Stage 2 concluded today, Monday 3 October, at 20:18 when the final competitors reached Camp 3, Desert Farmland.   The last to complete the stage were Li Li and Bao Jingyun from China, Katarzyna Swist-Szulik from Poland and Team AHO from Japan.

A phenomenal race today by Jax Mariash Koudele - she not only extended her lead in the womans division but was leading the entire field for half of the Stage - finally finishing 2nd, 10 minutes behind the Stage 2 leader Tommy Chen from Taiwan. 

The overall Top 10 has moved around a bit but the main contenders of Neill Weir from Norther Ireland; Ben Dame from Germany;  Filippo Rossi from Switzerland; Iulian Rotariu from Romania and Sarah & Tom Sawyer from the UK - Isabelle Soave had another good day remaining as the 3rd place female but was pushed out of the Top 10 by Dirk Diemont from South Africa who had a superb run putting him into overall 7th place after finishing 17th yesterday.

Lisa Akeroyd from the UK summed up what most competitors felt about today "The first half was the most amazing run I have ever done in my life, the second half not so much." 

While the technical running started off the day there was lots to see (and do) with stunning slot canyons (that you can touch on both sides in places) filled with icy snow-melt water.  A tough climb up to a tunnel, stunning views from the ridge line and then down a huge dune.    Kevin Bass from the United States described the dune: "it was like jumping off the side of cliff and running on spring...wish I could do that again!"  To give you an idea of the dune David Souza said "It was about the length of a bunny slope at a New England ski mountain, but much steeper. " and Robert Bennet " started bounding down the dune it felt like you were skiing without skis. "

The second half of the Stage was hot, long and difficult to run - sandy, slatey, desert terrain - and while thew views were still stunning, they were nothing compared to first sections today.

There are six competitors who have withdrawn from the race so far. 

Competitors are now sleeping to get as much rest as possible for Stage 3, tomorrow,  which is argueably the hardest Stage of the whole race.  This is where they get to walk over terrain described by prevoius competitors as "a ploughed field" "frozen brocoli that is melting" and "corral that has been left out of water".



Full Results - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

Photos from Stage 1 and 2 - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

Stage Update - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/stage_updates

Blogs (20) from Stage 1 - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs

Stage 2 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLB55irWAt8


Stage 2: Breaking News 3

Mon, 3 October 2016 at 16:17

The second CP of the day has now closed and the remaining competitors are heading towards CP3 and CP4.  Conditions were hot and with little wind but competitors enjoyed the varied and spectacular terrain from the famed slot canyons to the giant sand dune.  

The top ten today and most recent five to arrive at CP4, Camp, included:

Top ten for Stage 2

24, Tommy Chen of Taiwan, 5:17

71, Jax Mariash Koudele of the US/ Canada, 5:26

94, Iulian Rotariu of Romania, 5:57

118, Neill Weir of Northern Ireland, 5:57

29, Ben Dame of Germany, 5:57

32, Dirk Diemont of South Africa, 5:59

93, Filippo Rossi of Switzerland, 6:01

48, Jurgen Heilbock of Germany, 6:18

40, Nikolaj Forsberg, of Denmark, 6:20

98, Sarah Sawyer of the United Kingdom, 6:29

Most recent to arrive at CP4, Camp

20, David Cermak of the United States, 7:47

92, Frank Rocktaeschel of Germany, 7:52

119, Rhianon West of the United Kingdom, 7:59

108, David Sun of Hong Kong, 8:00

107, Thomas Stordalen of Norway, 8:11

Once competitors arrive at Camp, they can expect a spectacular setting. 

Stage 2: Breaking News 2

Mon, 3 October 2016 at 12:04

Stage 2 is well underway with a surprise overall leader, Jax Mariash Koudele of the United States/ Canada.  Jax finished as the first woman on Stage 1.  Following Jax is Ben Dame of Germany and Avi Blaiberg of Israel. So far 61 competitors have passed through CP2 which is just after an enormous sand dune.  The last three to pass through CP2 were Thanh Vu of Vietnam, Joost Muylle of Belgium and Elizabeth Tod of Canada.  Hernan Garcia and Ash Mokhtari ran Stage 1 together but are racing each other on Stage 2 with Ash currently holding a slight lead. Muz Mohammed of Hong Kong was looking strong coming down the sand dune.  Harriet Naughton of the United Kingdom arrived at CP2 saying she was almost in tears over how beautiful the scenery was on the last section.

Stage 2: Breaking News 1

Mon, 3 October 2016 at 09:00

STAGE 2 of the Atacama Crossing 2016 started at 08:00 (Chile time) on Monday, 3 October. 

After a challenging Stage 1 everyone was a little less eager to get up and move to the start line - some stiff muscles and sore feet are already noticeable but spirits are not broken.  However, with slightly warmer temperatures (being at nearly 1000 meters / 3,200 feet lower than last night) and having completed the 36kms / 23 miles of Stage 1, most people had a better sleep.  There was on withdrawal on Stage 1.

Stage 2 has four checkpoints (same as yesterday) - including the final one which is at Camp 3 - Desert Farmland.   The total distance of Stage 2 is 44.1km / 27.6 miles - that is an additional 8 kms / 5 miles compared to yesterday and has some technical sections - but with continued elevation drop people will have more oxygen in their lungs.  However, it is not all downhill.  

The stage starts through some slot canyons - this time with high walls and water in the bottom - about 5kms of the first section has water between ankle and thigh deep.  Going through here in the morning means that they are in the shade and the water is icy as it is snow melt from the mountains.   They will then go up another old road (637 meters / 2089 feet elevation gain), through a tunnel, a long a ridge and down a dune that they will remember for the rest of their lives in CP2.  They then enter the Valley of Death, go through "Beter" and finish with a small dune into Camp 3 on a Desert Farm. 

If you have not already, be sure to watch the video, see the photos (about 300), look at the full results and enjoy the blogs written by competitors at Camp 2 last night. 



Stage 3: Breaking News 6

Wed, 5 October 2016 at 07:30

Stage 4 - The Infamous Salt flats will get underway in 30 minutes.

As we wait for news from the next stage - enjoy the photos from yesterdays Stage 3 which are now on the website. 



Stage 3: Breaking News 5

Tue, 4 October 2016 at 23:30

Stage 3 results are now on the website: www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

The overall results after Stage 3 are below:

1. Tommy Chen from Taiwan - 14:12:53

2. Jax Mariash Koudele from Canada / United States - 14:33:41 - 1st Female

3. Ben Dame from Canada - 14:44:30

4. Neill Weir from Northern Ireland - 14:56:06

5. Filippo Rossi from Switzerland - 15:34:57

6. Iulian Rotariu from Romania  -15:42:05

7. Daniel Huber from Germany - 16:19:18

8.  Dirk Diemont from South African - 16:28:14

9. Jurgen Helibrock from Germany -16:42:37

10. Flemming Wewer from Denmark -16:55:09

Some great perforamances today - and three withdrawals (all are fine). 

You can also see the following on the website from Stage 3 which has more detail about who went up places, comments from competitors and the names of the competitors who withdrew.

Blogs from Stage 3 (18 in total) : http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs

Stage 3 Update: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/stage_updates

Photos and Video - these will be uploaded tomorrow (in approx. 8 hours time - apaologies for the delay)

Stage 4 will start at 08:00 (Chile time) tomorrow, Wednesday 5 October.

Photo from Stage 3 of the Atacama Crossing

Stage 3: Breaking News 4

Tue, 4 October 2016 at 21:20

Stage 3 concluded at 20:40 this evening - 12 hours 40 minutes after the start.  It was a tough day for most people - not so many jokes at Camp tonight but people are happy to have arrived and are busy preparing their feet and getting food in before getting some rest ready for tomorrow.   Although Tent 2- Caichinque - with Olivia Chiu, Tina Beigelbeck, Rich Cohen, Lisa Akeroyd, Shelley Bolle, Tomoyuki Hokazono, Keijiro Tajima and Genko Stanilov have had a few noise complaints from other tents!

David Grosse from the United Kingdom thinks he may have left his sense of humour at Camp 3 and suggested that we should add an additional award - there is already Spirit and Sportsmanship - he suggested added the "grumpy old man award".  David finished the Stage in a respectable 72nd position.

However the tough terrain didn't stop the front runners finisihing in excellent times.  Jax Mariash Koudele described today as "a big flip flop of positions depending on what stage we were at. At each check point my overall position was 1st, 2nd, 6th, 1st, 3rd.".  In the end it was Tommy Chen from Taiwan 1st in 4 hrs 40 mins with Ben Dame from Germany and Jax Mariash Koudele from Canada / United States just minutes behind.  Flemming Wewer from Denmark finished an impressive 6th today in 5 hours and 9 mins.

Harriet Naughton from the UK felt better than yesterday - at least for the first half.  "After the mud though was sand which was a surprising relief! We got to run down another great sand dune…only then we had to go up again the other side!  That was tough, plus there was a photographer to capture all the stress and strain!"  She also points out "  It is all part of the experience though – no one here signed up to this because they thought it’d be easy!".  She finished in an impressive 25th position. 

Anyone read about the dog that ran with a runner in the Gobi March?   Kevin Bass from the United States said "Today three dogs ran with the runners.   Another one tried but kept lying down…it was so hot.  I ran up to him and gave him water".  Franco Zomer also found a furry friend along the way who ran with him to the Camp.  They helped to keep spirits up. 

The final pair to arrive crawl up the final sand dune into Camp 4, Volcan Licancabur, were Li Li from China and Katarzyna Swist-Szulik from Poland.  There were a few people who withdrew during the days stage but all are doing fine - the results and stage update will show the details of who they are.

BLOGS - are going up now

RESULTS, PHOTOS & STAGE UPDATE - will be up soon


Stage 3: Breaking News 3

Tue, 4 October 2016 at 12:54

Tommy Chen of Taiwan was the first competitors across the finish line to Camp 4, Volcan Licancabur, on top of Zapar plateau at 12:40. Just a minute behind him was German’s Benjamin Dame, followed by the leading woman Jax Mariash Koudele at 12:45.

Today’s Stage 3 is anticipated to be the toughest and Tommy Chen and Ben Dame agreed that there were many difficult sections, the worst ones being the endless fields of salt terrain, “frozen broccoli” as well as the sand dunes in the last 10 kilometers.

Jax is super happy having put up another great performance - it was only in the last four kilometers when Tommy and Ben passed her. “I’ve been second, first, sixth, fourth, first…phew! What a day!”

Checkpoint 2 has closed, the last competitor in was Li Li of China. “I was so lucky today to find a well to wash my clothes. They are now drying in my backpack.”

Fifteen competitors have passed Checkpoint 4 now which is just four kilometers from the final Checkpoint 5 at Camp. Temperatures are rising although there’s a cool breeze on the plateau.


Stage 3: Breaking News 2

Tue, 4 October 2016 at 10:45

At 09:30 the first competitors had already reached CP2 - the first person to arrive was Werwer Flemming (#120) from Denmark.  Werwer has been sitting just outside the Top 10 for the first few stages.   It's an exciting race with so many fast runners in the Top 20.  It is from CP2 that difficult terrain starts and the heat is already starting to set in.

At 10:00 CP1 closed with all comeptitors reaching this point.   Harriet Naughton from the UK (Wales) was the last to reach the Checkpoint.  She was having a rest before carrying on along the course.

Jason Huang from Taiwan said "I'm feeling good. Much more prepared than last year. Arrived in San Pedro a week earlier which really helped too."  Jason was at the Atacama Crossing in 2015 but did not finish the race.

Grand Slammer Ludy Dvorak from Czech Republic said "I am doing well - but my ass is getting a beating for the third time"  Ludy is at this third 4 Deserts Race so far this year.

Matthew Kroehler #62 joked that he was looking forward to getting back to his desk at home before admitting "actually this is great!".


Stage 3: Breaking News 1

Tue, 4 October 2016 at 09:30

STAGE 3, the Atacamenos Trail, got underway at 08:00 (Chile time) today. 


It was another cool morning which meant everyone stayed in their tents and around the fire until the last moment before the countdown to the start.  

Betty Tod from Canada was hoping that the cool morning means that it won’t be such a hot day – but with temperatures already rising I don’t think her hopes will be met.  Kenny Yiu from Hong Kong was planning to take this stage easy having heard it is going to be tough.   Team AHO did their usual “team huddle” before setting off – 5 minutes after the rest of the field (as usual). 

Stage 3 is arguably the toughest stage of the course.  It has five checkpoints - including the final one which is at Camp 4 – Volcan Licancabur.   The total distance of Stage 3 is 39.9 km / 24.9 miles – less distance than yesterday but over some very tough terrain including the dreaded “frozen broccoli” and a lot of sand with a section of steep dunes (not as high as yesterday but more of them).  The total elevation gain today is 281 meters and 150 meters down. 

The Top 10 went off fast.  It’s very exciting to have Jax Mariash Koudele – the leading lady – in 2nd place overall!!!!

More breaking news throughout the day and everything can be seen through the website www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/live - in particular look for:

Full Results - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

Photos from Stage 1 and 2 - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

Stage Update - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/stage_updates

Blogs (20) from Stage 1 - http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs

Stage 2 Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLB55irWAt8

Stage 4: Breaking News 3

Wed, 5 October 2016 at 23:30

Stage 4 came to an end at 19:40 - 11 hours and 40 minutes after the start this morning.  The website is updated with:

RESULTS including Stage 4: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

PHOTOS including Stage 4: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

VIDEO for each Stage including Stage 4: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/videos

BLOGS including those written after Stage 4: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs


There were no big surprises in the results today but a lot of running partnerships were formed and a few people juggling for positions.   The Top 10 after Stage 4 is:

1.  Tommy CHEN - Taiwan - 19:27

2 (joint). Neill WEIR - Northern Ireland - 20:01

2. (joint). Jax MARIASH KOUDELE - Canada / USA - 20:01

4. Ben DAME - Germany - 20:04

5. Filippo ROSSI - Switzerland - 21:15

6. Iulian ROTARIU - Romania - 21:33

7. Daniel HUBER - Switzerland - 21:46

8. Dirk DIEMONT - South Africa - 21:53

9. Flemming WEWER - Denmark - 22:31:59

10. Jurgen HELIBROCK - 22:44


The WOMAN's competition remains unchanged at the front.  Jax Mariash Koudele has 3 hours on 2nd place female Sarah Sawyer - Jax is fighting for an overall podium place.  Isabelle Soave from Canada is the 3rd place woman but there are only 11 minutes between Sawyer and Soave!  4th place female is Harriet Haughton who sits 3 hours 15 minutes behind 3rd place.  Today Harriet latched onto experience when she followed Ash Mokhtari from Iran / Canada (he's been here 7 times before) and Hernan Garcia from Argentina to help pace her across the 12 kms / 7.5 miles salt flats section.  Together with Mathieu Deliens they all finished the stage (nearly) together in 27th place.

The small battles going on for places include those between:

Flemming Wewer from Denmark and Jurgen Helibrock from Germany for 9th / 10th place - Flemming moved to 9th overall today.

Hamish Pritchard from the UK and Nicolaj Forsberg from Denmark for 14th / 15th.  Nicolaj took it today leaving Hamish in 15th place.

Martin Cai from Canada and Yasuda Kenichiro from Japan for 16th / 17th position.  Martin took it today giving him 16th place overall.

Some movers on the scoreboard after Stage 4 include:

Jareb Steines from the United States had a great run moving up 2 places to 18th place with Brendan Funk also from the United States right behind in 19th place.

Mathieu Deliens from France continues to climb the leaderboard - going up 14th places today to 38th place.

Rhianon West from the United Kingdom went up 4 places today to put her in 37th overall - 7th among the women and 2nd in her age group (behind Jax).

Tim Treloar from the United Kingdom didn't have such a great day today moving him down 7 places overall but still fighting.  It may the 11 llb / 5 kg pair of trousers that's taking it's toll.

Ludy Dvorak from Czech Republic is delighted with his third Top 40 finish this week - he finished 40th (and won't stop telling his tentmates :0).  He is currently in 52nd place - hoping for a Top 40 overall after tomorrow.

However the Long March (Stage 5) tomorrow is a whole new day. 

the summary of Stage 4 from competitors was that it was a long, hot tough day.  Many people chose to buddy up with friends old and new to get them through:

Daniel Huber and Jax Mariash Koudele ran most of the stage together.  The goal was to hold back a bit to save energy for tomorrow.

Sarah Sawyer has been running the whole race with her husband Tom Sawyer.  Today Isabelle Soave teamed up wtih them and they all enjoyed the camaraderie.

Pete Ford and Nicholas Desilla from South Africa have also completed the whole course together and today was no different - they finished in 58th place.

The Sri Lanka duo, Shihan John and Ruvan Ranatunga are another pair who have completed the race together so far.  Today they finished in 66th place putting them 68th overall.

Ian Milne from Ireland and Alain Esseiva from Switzerland (both living in Singapore) were together again today finishing in 68th place.

And finally the last three competitors: Elena Zurmeuhlen from Russia, Nir Greenberg from Israel and Taehun Park from South Korean stuck together into Camp 5.

David Souza, however spent almost the entire day on his own - having stayed with the front runners in the early technical sections he could them only walk (due to sore hips) so was left in their dust but finished a very respectable 31st.

Rest and recouperation for tomorrow's stage is the plan tonight.  The medical tent is busy with blisters and advice on staying hydrated.

Stage 5: The Long March, will start at 08:00 tomorrow, Thurs 6 Oct and will continue until around mid-day on Friday 7 Oct.


Stage 4: Breaking News 2

Wed, 5 October 2016 at 21:00

Stage 4 has been a slow day for updates - sorry for this.

The winner of Stage 4 was Neill Weir from Northern Ireland (pictured below).  He reached the finishline at Camp 5, 10 minutes ahead of Tommy Chen saying "I needed to make up time on yesterday".

Competitors were in great spirits early on in the day and excited by the thrill of the huge sand dune that they slid down. Robert Bennet wanted to roll down Fred Flinstone style.  Matheiu Deliens said "wow that was fun, fantastic I love the dunes!"

The 2nd and 3rd place ladies, Sarah Sawyer from the United Kingdom and Isabell Soave from Canada were running together "enjoying the camaraderie".

There were just 20 competitors left to get through the infamous salt flats at 17:00 - from there it is just 8km / 5 miles to Camp.   David Cermak decided to withdraw at checkpoint 4.The back of the pack earlier on in the Stage were Cynthia Fish, Jonathan Wilkes and Matthew Kroehler - just taking it easy but doing fine.

More news as soon as we have it.

Stage 4: Breaking News 1

Wed, 5 October 2016 at 09:15

STAGE 4, The Infamous Salt Flats has started - at 08:00 (Chile time) all active competitors left from Camp 4.

The stage starts by following the line of the volcanoes before descending down a steep sandy hill into a green valley (where they may or may not get their feet wet).    The course then goes through a desert forest full of long (5cm / 2 inch) sharp spikes from the trees, before entering the infamous salt flats - 12 kms of exposed white nothing-ness.  Then finally on hard packed past Los Ojos (the eyes) and into Camp 5 at Lake Tebinquinche.

The distance of Stage 4 is 44.1km / 27.6 miles - there are five checkpoints.  Elevation gain and loss is not relevant after checkpoint 1.  It’s the exposure and heat to watch out for.  Today is about self-preservation ready for the Long March tomorrow.

Jax Mariash Koudele is the leading lady and currently 2nd place overall - she was very focused and led the pack out of the start line as they headed up over the first hill of the challenging course. Most competitors were quite positive looking forward to stage 4 - David Sun from Hong Kong didn't enjoy yesterday as much as he would have liked and is looking forward to geting closer to the Long March and being able to smell the finish line.
Cynthia fish was was the last to leave (after team AHO - which actually left on time) Cynthia said she is going to have fun, because what else would you have out here ???
As the group was leaving the start a member for Team AHO grabbed the megaphone and yelled Happy happy happy !! Woo hoo.  Michael McLean did not start Stage 4.

What will happen today out on Stage 4 -

What will happen in the Top 10?

Will Tommy Chen retain his 1st place position? 

Will Jax Mariash Koudele stay so strong? 

Can Tina Beigelbeck from Texas finish again in the top 50? 

Will the four dogs who spent the night at Camp 4 complete Stage 4? 

Will the temperature exceed 40C / 104F? 

Can Sarah Sawyer (2nd place lady) get back into the Top 10 overall?

Can Team AHO, Li Li and Katarzyba Swist-Szulik meet the cut-off?

Will anyone cool off in Los Ojos?

More breaking news will follow during the day. 

Stage 5: Breaking News 7

Fri, 7 October 2016 at 10:00

Apologies for this late final update.

As of 10:00 (Chile time) on Fri, 7 October all competitors had reached Camp. 

The last to arrive were Team AHO - while at the back, all 10 members have completed all five stages of the race so far together.  That is even harder than completing as an individual as you are only as fast as your slowest person.  A huge round of applause for the 10 amazing, enthusiastic and colourful people who make up this team.

In front of Team AHO were:

Elena Zuhmuehlen from Russia together with Nir Greenberg from Israel arriving at 08:18 - 24 hours on the course

Kasper Hald from Denmark, Tia Beckmann from South Africa and Olivia Chui from Australia / Hong Kong arriving at 07:15 - 23 hours on the course

Congratulations to everyone who completed Stage 5.

RESULTS for all from Stage 5: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

PHOTOS from Stage 5 - part two has been added to part 1 from earlier: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

VIDEO from Stage 5: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

BLOGS written at Camp 6 after Stage 5 are going up now: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs


Today is a day to relax in their Camp, Kari Gorge, which is on the edge of Moon Valley. 

Tomorrow the final Stage will start early and they run the final 10kms into San Pedro, finishing in San Pedro Square


Stage 5: Breaking News 6

Fri, 7 October 2016 at 04:00

As of three-forty in the morning on Friday, 7 October ther are 84 competitors who have completed State 5 of the Atacama Crossing and are resting at Camp 6.  The most recent to arrive were Nuria Borrell from Spain and Troy Byers from the United States who walked together in the dark for the last few sections.   Among the others who finished recently are:

Rhianon West from the United Kingdom - 51st place

Tim Treloar from United Kingdom - 65th position

Shihan John and Ruvan Ranatunga from Sri Lanka - 67th position

Cynthia Fish from Canada - 75th position

STAGE 5 RESULTS UP TO 84th are on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

There are a further 20 competitors still out on the course - many of them who have been sleping at checkpoint 5, the overnight checkpoint. 

Photo is of Troy Byers and Nuria Borrell reaching the end of Stage 5. 

Stage 5: Breaking News 5

Fri, 7 October 2016 at 01:00

Stage 5 is still going - 17 hours into the stage so far.

At 21:43 there were 42 competitors who had completed Stage 5 of the race - the last people to cross at 21:43 were Franco Zomer from Italy, Robert Bennett from the United Kingdom and Joost Muylle from Belgium. There have also been 4 withdrawals in total today.  

More will have crossed by now and I will update on these soon. 

Everyone is doing well and those still out in the field are going strong (although some are resting at the overnight checkpoint before setting off again early tomorrow morning for the final 25km / 15 miles to finish line.   CP4, the checkpoint before the overnight checkpoint, had closed by 22:00.

The results up to the 42nd person are on the website.  This includes the competitors who have wtihdrawn. 


Stage 5: Breaking News 4

Thu, 6 October 2016 at 20:00

At 19:55 (Chile time), 23 people have completed the 74kms are in Camp 6. Below are the Top 10 listed out.  The scores of the top 23 and also the photos of some of them crossing the finishline will be on the website very soon



1. Tommy Chen - Taiwan

2. Neill Weir - Northern Ireland

3. Flemming Wewer - Denmark

4. Daniel Huber - Switzerland

5. Ben Dame - Germany

6. Iulian Rotariu - Romania

7. Dirk Diemont - South Africa

8. Jax Mariash Koudele - Canada / United States

9. Jurgen Helibrock - Germany

10. Filippo Rossi - Switzerland

Flemming Wewer from Denmark crossing the final finishline of Stage 5 in Camp 6.

Stage 5: Breaking News 3

Thu, 6 October 2016 at 17:30

Tommy Chen from Taiwan has won the Long March in just under 9 hours! 

Neill Weir from Northern Ireland was in 2nd place - 20 minutes behind him.

More from the rest of the field soon.

Stage 5: Breaking News 2

Thu, 6 October 2016 at 14:30

Short Update.

Checkpoint 2 which is 24 kms / 15 miles into Stage 5 (the Long March) closed at 14:30.  The first person to arrive there was Daniel Huber from Switzerland at 10:57.   The last person to arrive was Nir Greenberg from Israel.   All competitors are doing well.  Just Park Tae Hun from South Korea has withdrawn on Stage 5 before CP2.

Stage 5: Breaking News 1

Thu, 6 October 2016 at 08:45

Stage 5, The Long March started at 08:00 (Chile time)


The Stage is aptly named as this stage is 73.4 km / 46 miles with eight checkpoints across the distance.  Stage 5 will come to a close by mid-day tomorrow – so that’s 28 hours competitors have to complete the distance.    The front runners will finish before dark in less than 11 hours.


Today they will start on 15km / 10 miles of difficult ploughed field salt flats, before opening up to 15kms of runnable hard packed terrain.  They then go back off track and climb 100m over 1 km up a large dune to a stunning plateau (like the moon) and down the other side.   They are then in Moon valley a mixture of dirt, crusty surface, sandy spots and hard packed terrain.  For the last 15kms they turn onto a gravel track and go up over a hill (168m height in total over about 13kms) and down the otherside into Camp.


It will be an exciting day in the Top 10 with the top four people within 40 minutes of each other – that is Tommy Chen of Taiwan, Neill Weir of Northern Ireland, Jax Mariash Koudele of Canada / United States and Ben Dame of Germany.   Jax could really break a 4 Deserts record today if she was to go into 1st place overall - it is amazing to have a woman in the Top 3! 


There is also just  40 minutes between position 5 and 8 (Filippo Rossi, Iulian Rotariu and Daniel Huber) and just over 2 hours between 5th place 15th place with two women in this mix.  Have a look at www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results


For many this will be the first time they have completed a distance more than 50km / 31 miles in one go.  For the 19 Grand Slammers they need to get through to be sure to remain on target to complete all four 4 Deserts races this year.   For others this will be their way to creep up the leaderboard and show their strength and stamina over the longer distance. 


There have been a total 14 withdrawals (11%) for the race so far - for full details see the results and stage update.  We hope to see the rest of the field complete this final hurdle. 


The dogs are still in the race – they completed Stage 4 and stayed at Camp 5 last night  - creating some noise at times.  They have started off with the group today - we will see if they will run again today.


We will keep you posted throughout the stage with breaking news (www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing) and on the website www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/.live


This is what is in store for competitors today:


Stage 6: Breaking News 2

Sat, 8 October 2016 at 14:00

Stage 6 of the Atacama Crossing concluded at 12 noon at the town square of San Pedro de Atacama. The atmosphere at the start line was super excited. Competitors stood lined up for 5 minutes, waiting for the 10:00 start and the last 8 kilometers of the race. The local Chilean team called out the Chilean national cheer and did the countdown. The stage that started from the last section of the Moon Valley took competitors through dust tracks and little roads to the pistoresque town of San Pedro. 

First competitors cross the timing line was Fleming Wever, Neill Weir and the overal leader Tommy Chen. The trio run across the finishline hand in hand. Women's leader Jax Koudele chased Benjamin Dame trying to close the gap between them but Ben did manage to sprint in faster. The last one across the line was Japan's 10 person Team Aho who were accompanied by two faithul dogs that were with them since Stage 4. 

It was an emotional moment for all: tears of joy, screams, laughter, much was witnessed as competitors finished the race and received the well deserved medal from the 4 Deserts management team. Pizzas and drinks made the party even better and of course local Chilean band that managed to get competitors dancing even after the 250-kilometer race.

Competitors, staff and volunteers are now relaxing and getting ready for the awards banquet which starts at Toconar restautant at 19:00. Photos, results and more content from the stage will be available on the official website soon.

Stage 6: Breaking News 1

Sat, 8 October 2016 at 07:15

It is currently 07:15 in Chile.  Competitors are up having had a day to rest and a lie in this morning (they would usually be starting in less than one hour).   There is excitement, anticipation, hunger and a general party feeling in the air.

Everyone knows that they can make it 10kms having completed 242kms so far - that means that everyone who completed the Long March (Stage 5) yesterday (and the day before) should complete the race.  Some sprinting and some hobbling to the end.

Stage 6 is planned to get underway at 10:00 (Chile time) and the course will finsih off through the streets of San Pedro and the final finishline of the race in San Pedro main square.  The first person will arrive before 11:00 (Chile time).

With an hour, half an hour and 20 minutes between 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectively and more than four hours between 1st and 2nd women it seems like the overall results will not change - but anything can happen.  However further down the field there are just minutes between a few people and so there will be a race going on - especially for the age group winners.  Besides which, the incentive to get to the pizza will likely turn this into a sprint from most.

The Stage 6 and final final results and photos will be up on the website later today as will the press release and eventually photos from the Awards Banquet.