RACE COVERAGE

Atacama Crossing: What’s not to love?

What’s not to love about this iconic race, in the driest of the deserts in the 4 Deserts Race Series and the world! The Atacama Desert is situated in the north of Chile and some areas have never been known to receive even a drop of rainfall since weather records began.

Camp 1 stands at 3200 metres / 10,500 feet above sea level and is situated just at the foot of a stunning cliff formation in a place called Rainbow Valley. But we recommend you spend some time in the quaint little town of San Pedro de Atacama, which has so much to offer. It would almost be criminal not to arrive a few days early and chill out in this lovely little oasis of adobe-styled pizzerias and wine bars, perfect after days exploring the natural geographical formations in the landscapes nearby.

Even with the comfort of San Pedro, it is not a race to be taken lightly. Amanda de Kock of South Africa, who completed the race in 2013, voices the thoughts of many competitors, “The Atacama Crossing was very daunting. The altitude definitely affected me.”

Many competitors talk about the terrain and there is a lot to talk about. Tracks turn into small trails and you soon find yourself running through a slot canyon. Of the final section on Stage 2, Jax Mariash of the United States, who completed the 4 Deserts Grand PLUS in 2016, euphorically describes in her blog: “You push up over the tunnel to the ridge line and run across it until you get to fly down a big sand dune. You can’t help but holler in joy the whole way down. It is SO FUN!” The Atacama Crossing delights you in ways like this.

Stage 4 has you working your way through the salts flats, which are both feared and revered in equal measure. Whether you make light work of them or if each footstep breaks through the crusty cap into murky muddy depths below, they will stay etched in your memory forever.

After The Long March of Stage 5,  you arrive at camp in the Valley of the Moon. Ever wondered what it would be like to sleep on the moon? Look no further.

Even in the driest desert in the world, you can look forward to getting your feet wet walking through the numerous canyons, and it’ll be worth it for the photographs that will be taken of your most intrepid self.

The Atacama Crossing was the first multi-stage race for Jean-Francois Begin of Canada, who says, “Crossing that Atacama finish line, my first stage race will always be remembered as a very special moment for me.”

Take it from some people who have done the race, not least the infamous Ash Mokhtari of Iran / Canada who says of this race, "I don't ask myself why I should do the Atacama Crossing, I try to think why I should not".  He will be taking part in his 10th Atacama Crossing this year – earning him the nick name “Ashacama”.

And if you are still not sure, just think of that medal and the beer at the finish line. Jax Mariash describes it:  “Seeing the last finish line after so much effort is incredible. It is a special moment in a town square with runners, volunteers, medics, ground crew and race staff celebrating and hugging in joy. So many memories of the week rush back with each hug. There are bonds and relationships that will last forever.”