RACE COVERAGE

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Pre-Race Update

After many months of preparing competitors have arrived at Camp 1, Rio Grande, in the Acroris Valley of the Atacama Desert.   The race will start at 08:00 (Chile time) tomorrow, Sunday, 2 October.   Temperatures are a mild 11C / 52F at Camp after sun set.  It can reach below 0C / 32F at this Camp where they are at 3,200 meters / 10,500 feet.  

 

The familiar orange packets of Expedition Foods were tucked into for the first time this week at Camp 1 – while others had carried some more luxury foods to the desert including pizza, empanadas (pasties) and sandwiches.

 

After an administration day including an early race briefing and race check-in all competitors headed into the desert to Camp 1 after lunch where they are camping in tents with their seven other tentmates for the first of seven nights. 

 

For some the day started with a short run to get the blood moving – Allen Kerton, Bruno Seguin and the Chan brothers went out together.

 

For others there was still final packing and checking to be done to ensure that they had all the items needed.  Part of Race Check-In included ensuring all forms were in order, meeting with a member of the seven-strong medical team from the United States (made up of Emergency doctors) and having every one of the thirty-seven mandatory items checked which includes sleeping bag, whistle, bivvy bag and toilet paper(!).   The lightest overall pack belonged to favourite to win the race, Tommy Chen from Taiwan.  The heaviest was of Ueda-san of Japan at 15kg. 

 

Team AHO from Japan are unmissable out there in their colourful outfits, wigs and positive energy.  Jacquie Liddiard said “I am looking forward to sharing my first day with y'all”

 

Spirits are high and excitement is the main feeling (and perhaps a few nerves).

 

The race starts tomorrow, Sunday, 2 October at 08:00 (Chile time).  The distance is 36.4km / 22.8miles with a total elevation loss of 945m.

 

 

Follow the race live as it happens: www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/live

 

  • BREAKING NEWS - receive live email updates during each stage
  • STAGE UPDATES - are posted daily to provide an overview of the Stage
  • RESULTS - will be posted to the website during and after each stage
  • PHOTOS and VIDEOS - are posted daily during and after each stage
  • BLOGS are posted by competitors from each Camp - leave comments for them to read in the Cybertent
  • SEND EMAILS TO A COMPETITOR - by going to the results page and clicking "send an email" next to the relevant competitors name
  • FEATURES - will highlight individual competitors and specific items of interest
  • LIST OF COMPETITORS - complete with their biographies, charities, etc.
  • PRESS RELEASE - read the pre- and post-race in our pressroom

 

Stage 1 Update

 

STAGE 1 – Navition by Rock

Sun, 2 October

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Neil Weir (UK) – 4:04:20

2. Ben Dame (GER) – 4:05:38

3. Filippo ROSSI (SWI) – 4:09:06

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 4:22:35

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 4:47:27

.3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 4:49:19

 

TEAM

 

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 9:58:29

 

 

 

LAST PEOPLE

  • Giovanna Caria (ITA) – 10 hrs 5 mins
  • Team AHO (JPN) – 14 members – 9 hrs 58 mins
  • Kirk Baird (USA) – 9 hrs 50 mins
  • Jacqui Liddiard (USA) – 9 hrs 49 mins

 

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

36.4 km / 22.8 miles

Elevation

The race started at 3,200 meter / 10,500

 

Total elevation gain was 245 m / 800 feet

Total elevatoin lost was 973 m / 3,200 feet

 

Elevation at Camp 2: 2,600 m / 8,600 feet

Terrain

 

Rocky hill, dry canyons, wide open desert then up a long Inca road in a canyon.

 

Highlights

Stary Sky at Camp 1

Canyons

General lunar landscape

Llama sightings

Shady spots in the long uphill canyon

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

Very cold night at Camp 2 – not quite 0C but felt like it.

Cold start in the morning.

Hot and sunny with a big blue sky 35C

Hot without a breeze in the final canyon on the Inca road 40C

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

The unknown from Northern Ireland took the lead early on and maintained.  Ben Dame and Filippo Rossi took their places in 2nd and 3rd.   Although just 6 minutes separate the three.

Tommy Chen had a solid 4th place 7 minutes behind 3rd.

The leading lady, Jax Mariash Koudele was in 5th place for most of the race before the mountain goat from Romania, Iulian Rotariu overtook her running up the final hill.

There are 3 women in the Top 10 right now which we love to see.  Jax Mariash Koudele is in the lead with Sarah Sawyer from the United Kingdom 20 minutes behind and Isabelle Sauve from Canada within a few minutes.  4th placed woman, Harriet Haughton from the United Kingdom is over one hour behind the leading three.

The course was beatiful today – real desserted desert with no one around (bar a few llamas and vicunas). The rainbow valley lead into the canyon section followed by flat out desert as far as you could see before turning onto the old Inca caravan route in the hot canyon.

 

QUOTES

  • Allen Kerton  from the United Kingdom “ Volcanoes, lunar landscapes and the most amazing night sky that I think I’ve ever seen. 
  • Troy Byers from the United States “ 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.   Still not feeling 100%, but lots of good people here to encourage me and look asfter me, including lots of American doctors. 
  • Ann Verhaeghe from Belgium  “ The heart rate is higher, the oxygen in the air is less, humidity is zero ... and the views are phenomenal.
  • David Grosse from the United Kingdom “It really is spectacular.  In a lunar way.  With a row of Volcanoes always visible on the horizon, big skies, proper desert.
  • Brian Lang from Canada -  After crossing a good piece of it we hit checkpoint 1, we then headed into a fantastic gorge. Crawling under rock crops and dodging tight river banks, we were having so much fun 5 of us missed the exit and stopped once we hit this beautiful grotto waterfall, right into a scene out of Alice in Wonderland-
  • Ryan Dipede from Canada – “Turns out out tentmate young Timmy (from Devon) is in charge of safety for Bear Grylls, and is a co-presenter on the Tv show.  I find this to be awesome and serendipitous and feel very safe. 

Stage 2 Update

 

STAGE 2 – The Slot Canyons

Mon, 3 October

LEADERS OVERALL

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 09:32:53

2.Neil Weir (N.IRE) – 10:02:06

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 10:03:30

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 09:48:41

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) - 11:16:45

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 11:21:53

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 21:58:14

 

 

 

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 5:16:46

2. Neil Weir (N.IRE) – 5:57:46

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 5:57:52

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 4:22:35

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 4:47:27

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 4:49:19

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 11:56:39

 

 

 

LAST PEOPLE – this stage

  • Li Li (CHN) – 12 hours 18 mins
  • Bao Jingyun (CHN) – 12 hours 18 mins
  • Katarzyna  Swist-Szulik (POL) – 12 hours 12 mins

WITHDRAWALS

So far

STAGE 1: Riz Akhtar (UK)

STAGE 2: Kirk Baird (USA), Giovanna Caria (ITA), Steve Lin (TAI), Brian Lang (CAN) and Mark Russell (UK)

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

44.1 km / 27.6 miles

Elevation

The race started at 2,629 meters / 8,625 feet

 

Total elevation gain was 243 meters / 800 feet

Total elevatoin lost was 535 meters / 1,755 feet

 

Elevation at Camp 3: 2,355 meters / 7,661 feet

Terrain

 

Slot canoy with water for 5kms.

Steep climb up old mining road up to a tunnel

Along ridge for 5km and then down a HUGE dune

Last 20km was sandy, dusty, slatey terrain through the Valley of Death

 

Highlights

Slot canyons!

Tunnel

HUGE dune to run down

Views over and through Valley of Death

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

More moderate temperatures overnight

Started cool – with icy water in slot canyons

Reached 38C / 100F in the heat of the day through the Valley of Death

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

Summary of Stage 2 – everyone loved the slot canyons and the huge dune (to run down), but they did not enjoy the heat or terrain of Valle de Marte for the second half of the race. 

 

Amazing run today by the leading female, Jax Mariash Koudele from Canada / USA – for nearly half of the she was the leader overall!  Jax finished the stage in 2nd place overall!

 

Tommy Chen from Taiwan, the favourite, had a good run catching up Jax before CP2 and then retaining his lead – he finished 10 minutes in front of Jax.  The 3rd place finisher, Neill Weir from Northern Ireland was 30 minutes behind them.

 

The Top 10 have remained largely the same people just juggling around for their positions – Neill Weir, Filipoo Rossi, Ben Dame, Iulian Rotariu and Sarah & Tom Sawyer all remain in the Top 10.   

 

However Dirk Diemont from South Africa had a great run – going from 17th in Stage 1 to 7th overall after Stage 2.   Pushing Isabelle Saoave into 11th place.

 

Just outside the Top 10 and ones to watch are Nikolaj Forsberg, Jareb Steines, Wewer Flemming, Yasuda Kenchiro, Martin Cai and Hamish Pritchard.

 

QUOTES

  • ALLEN KERTON, Grand Slam Contender from the UK - The first half of the course today was fantastic and really good fun. The icy cold river crossings, slot canyon, Inca roads and running (almost falling) down the enormous sand dune just before check point 2 were the stand out sections for me. I’m realising that I’m running Atacama Crossing a bit more cautiously than the other races…..a small mistake or a bit of bad luck, an ankle injury and my 4 Deserts Grand Slam would be all over.

 

  • MATHIEU DELIENS from France: This was a long and beautiful day in the Atacama Desert.  Mathieu decided to stay behind and walk with his tent-mate Christian Spangenberger – this did at least mean he finished the stage “not tired”.

 

  • KRISTINE PALMIERI from the United States:Stage two was difficult, but so amazingly beautiful that I (almost) didn’t notice the insanely steep slopes that we had to climb up to reach the long plateau. A plateau that, I should add, led us to an amazingly and insanely steep sand dune, which we then had to run/slide/fall down before hitting check point two. The dune was definitely just as cool as the water crossings. Basically the first two stages were amazing. And that’s (almost) all I’m going to say.  I was really dreading the water crossings but they wound up being my favourite part of the day!  The canyons were stunning and the cold water really helped my legs.

 

  • JAX MARIASH KOUDELE from Canada / United States - Day two is in the books, and boy was it a fun day.   Once past the big sand dune, I sacrificed 4 minutes to change out to clean socks and re-apply the gaiters.   You can’t help but holler in joy the whole way down. It is SO FUN!

 

  • JENNY McIVOR from British Virgin Islands - I’m tired and my feet are tender but overall happy and having a great time.  Running down the sand dunes the highlight so far... so much fun after long uphill slog.

 

  • THANH VU Grand Slam Contender from Vietnam -
  • There are two things I realized:
    1. I’m unbelievably crazy for doing Atacama Crossing a second time
    2. I’m insanely lucky to be able to do Atacama Crossing twice.

 

  • DAVID SOUZA Grand Slam Contender from United States - I counted 17 times we had to cross the river.  Most were just 2-3 steps in calf deep water, but a couple times we had to wade for 15-20 yards.   Once on the top we covered about 3 mils of the ridge with epic views of Devils Canyon which it a postcard image of the Atacama.  The view was incredible.  After that we got to run down the dune in super soft sand.  It was about the length of a bunny slope at a New England ski mountain, but much steeper.  

 

  • KEVIN BASS from the United States -  It [The dune] was like jumping off the side of cliff and running on spring...wish I could do that again! 

 

  • CHRISTIAN LEY from Germany - The first 11km went through a riverbed. Jumping, climbing, balancing, running - I had so much fun and willingness to take risks

 

  • NIKOLAJ FORSBERG from Denmark -  We ran on a mountain ridge which was an out of body experience. The view was breathtaking and the thin air made me quite high.
  • When it is inflated so does the max as a pillow.

 

  • ROBERT BENNETT from the United States - I will say we did a mega cool thing today.  We ran down the side of a steep sand dune.  Had to be hundreds of feet tall (it felt at least five hundred as we climbed the mountain ridge to get to it). Once you got over looking down the cliff edge and started bounding down the dune it felt like you were skiing without skis. 

 

  • LISA AKEROYD from the United Kingdom - The first half was the most amazing run I have ever done in my life.  After the ridge we hit an 800m descent down steep deep sand – the best fun EVER – felt a bit like skiing in the middle of the desert.  We were accompanied by a desert doggy for the last 10km who we called Pedro – he followed us all the way to camp and rested with us in the shade. 

 

  • DAVID GROSSE from the United Kingdom - The scenery remained out of this world – near the end of stage 2 we were on a high ridge line – and the view went on for ever

 

Stage 3 Update

STAGE 3 – The Atacamenos Trail

Tues, 4 October

LEADERS OVERALL

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 14.12: 5

2. Ben Dame (GER) – 14:44:30

3. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 14:56

4. Filippo Rossi (SWI)

5. Iulian Rotariu (ROM)

6. Daniel Huber (GER)

7. Dirk Diemont (ZAR)

8. Jurgen Helibrock (GER)

9. Flemming Wewer (DEN

10. Tom Sawyer (UK)

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 14:33:41

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) – 16:57:45

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 17:08:53

4. Harriet Naughton (UK)

5. Ann Verhaeghe (BEL)

6. Larissa Chankseliani (CAN)

7. Rhianon West (UK)

8. Thanh Vu (VIE)

9. Elizabeth Tod (CAN)

10. Kristine Palmieri (USA)

 

 

 

 

TEAM

Team AHO (JPN) – 34:42:45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 04:40

2. Ben Dame (GER) – 4:41

3. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 4:54

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 4:45

 

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 5:41

3.Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 5:47

 

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 10:46

 

 

 

 

LAST PEOPLE – this stage

  • Li Li (CHN) – 11 hours 40 mins
  • Katarzyna  Swist-Szulik (POL) – 11 hours 40 mins
  • Team AHO (JPN) -10 hours 46 mins

WITHDRAWALS

So far

STAGE 1: Riz Akhtar (UK)

STAGE 2: Kirk Baird (USA), Giovanna Caria (ITA), Steve Lin (TAI), Brian Lang (CAN) and Mark Russell (UK)

STAGE 3: Bruce Ferre (USA), Ryan Dipedes (CAN), Tim Barnes (UK)

That is a 7% withdrawal rate so far this race.

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

39.9 km / 24.9 miles

Elevation

The race started at 2,335 meters / 7,661 feet

 

Total elevation gain was 281 meters / 922 feet

Total elevatoin lost was 150 meters / 492 feet

 

Elevation at Camp 4: 2,453 meters / 8,048 feet

Terrain

Runnable cross country for first two sections

Into the “frozen brocoli” / “ploughed field” / “whompy” terrain – very tough to run (or walk)

Finally into sand with some very steep climbs up and down short sharp dunes.

Highlights

Volcano views

Dunes

Small green oasis en route

Dogs that joined competitors on the race

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

More moderate temperatures overnight

Was pleasant first thing

Had already heated up by 10am with the peak heat at 1pm

Reached 35C / 95F at it’s peak

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

Today was a tough today for everyone.  It was hard to run (although the front runners managed it) on the “frozen brocoli” and it feels endless at the end as you can see Camp long before you reach it.

 

The Top 10 was well described by Jax Mariash Koudele as a “flip flop day”.  At one point Flemming Wewer from Denmark was in the lead.  Jax herself came into each CP in 1st, 2nd, 6th, 1st and then finally 3rd across the finishline.

 

Ben Dame from Germany has taken over 3rd place from Neill Weir from Northern Ireland and Daniel Huber has pushed from 9th place to 7th position. Flemming Wewer entered the Top 10 overall in 10th position pushing Sarah Sawyer into 11th.  Sarah still remains as 2nd place female – more than 2 hours behind Jax Mariash Koudele but just 10 minutes in front of Isabelle Soave from Canada.

 

Further back there were some good performances by

Franco Zomer from Italy (moving up 9 places)

Richard Cohen from the UK (moving up 14 places from 60th to 46th),  Mathieu Deliens from France (moving up 16 places to 52nd),

Christian Spangenberger from Germany (moving up 8 places to 59th)

Cynthia Fish from Canada (moving up 11 places to 89th).

 

Some of the middle of the pack cometitors remain strong and consistent including Ian Milne from Ireland in 60th; Martin Cai from Canada in 17th; Brendan Funk from the United States in 18th place, Steven Halton from the UK in 26th place and Rhianon West from the UK in 41st position.

 

A highlight of the day was a number of friendly dogs who joined competitors to run along the course – there are currently four at Camp 4 who have been given food and water.  We wait to see if they will follow the competitors again tomorrow.

 

There were three withdrawals today – all in the middle of the stage.  All are doing fine.

 

QUOTES

SARAH SAWYER from the UK: said she “couldn’t understand why competitors didn’t like CP 3 to CP 4 she loved it, her husband Tom said it was because she was mad.”

 

THOMAS STORALDEN from Norway - So happy with today. After the Sahara Race (Namibia) I sat down with my coach to think about how to get through this race. I was in the 70s today coming through CP 1 and then it just really locked in. I fast walked through to CP4, got to 55th and felt strong all the way till the end.

LUKASZ PASZKOWSKI from Poland - That was a long one. The last stretch, through the land of donkey poo, that was good. I was half an hour faster than expected. It was easier than yesterday. The dune was really tough though.

 

ANN VERHAEGHE from Belgium – coped with the difficult terrain by “I put my mind to zero, and focus on infinity.”  About the dunes she said “steep descents and equally steep climbs, one step forward and two backward.”

 

KEVIN BASS from the United States – “Anyone read about the dog that ran with a runner in the Gobi March?  Today three dogs ran with the runners.  One of them tired and kept lying down…it was so hot.  I ran up to him and gave him water”

 

EMMARENTIA “TIA” BECKMANN from South Africa: ‘I was accompanied by a brilliant group of fellow competitors, we stuck together from start to finish, such awesome people, I can see why they say that lifelong friendships are forged during these races.”

 

OLIVIA CHUI from Australia / Hong Kong -  “the landscape has been amazing!!! At any point you could pick up your camera and take an amazing pic!  Thirdly, night sky has been SPECTCULAR!!!

 

DAVID CERMAK from the United States: Today was incredibly hard.  We ran up and down through sand dunes, ran for several miles on dried mud flats where every step I took meant the ground giving way beneath my feet, and several more miles over rocks and I swear I kicked every one of them!!  Awesome scenery again.  Volcanos everywhere. 

 

Stage 4 Update

 

 

STAGE 4 – The Infamous Salt Flats

Weds, 5 October

LEADERS OVERALL

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 19:27

2. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 20:01

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 20:04

4. Filippo Rossi (SWI)

5. Iulian Rotariu (ROM)

6. Daniel Huber (SWI)

7. Dirk Diemont (ZAR)

8. Flemming Wewer (DEN)

9. Jurgen Helibrock (GER)

10. Tom Sawyer (UK)

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 20:01

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) – 23:02

3. .Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 23:13

4.Harriet Naughton (UK)

5. Ann Verhaeghe (BEL)

6. Larissa Chankseliani (CAN)

7. Rhianon West (UK)

8. Thanh Vu (VIE)

9. Elizabeth Tod (CAN)

10. Kristine Palmieri (USA)

 

 

TEAM

1. Team China Friends (CHN) – 34:44

2. Team AHO (JPN) – 43:54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 5:05:05

2. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 05:14:20

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 05:19:30

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 5:27:30

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 6:04:45

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 6:05:00

TEAM

 

1. Team China Friends (CHN) – 9:55:45

2. Team AHO (JPN) – 11:11:48

 

LAST PEOPLE – this stage

  • Park Tae Hun – 11 hours 40 mins
  • Nir Greenberg – 11 hours 40 mins
  • Elena  Zurmuehlen – 11 hours 40 mins

WITHDRAWALS

So far

STAGE 1: Riz Akhtar (UK)

STAGE 2: Kirk Baird (USA), Giovanna Caria (ITA), Steve Lin (TAI), Brian Lang (CAN) and Mark Russell (UK)

STAGE 3: Bruce Ferre (USA), Ryan Dipedes (CAN), Tim Barnes (UK)

STAGE 4: Michael Mclean, David Cermak (CAN),  Katarzyna  Swist-Szulik (POL), Li Li (CHN), Michal Caspi (ISR)

 

That is an 11 % withdrawal rate so far this race.

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

44.1 km / 27.6 miles

Elevation

The race started at 2,453 meters / 8,048 feet

 

Total elevation gain was 205 meters / 672 feet

Total elevatoin lost was 376 meters / 1233 feet

 

Elevation at Camp 4: 2,453 meters / 8,048 feet

Terrain

Rolling dunes

Down a very very steep dune

Into a green valley and through a small village

Through a desert forest

Across 12km of the infamous salt flats

Hard packed into Camp

Highlights

Steep dune

Green valley

Desert forest

Seeing nothing for miles and miles

Los Ojos

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

It was 40C / 104F in the salt flats with heat being reflected off the white groun there was heat coming from all angles.

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

 

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 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 withBrendan 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 andTaehun 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.

QUOTES

 

Stage 5 Update

STAGE 5 – The Long March

Thurs, 6 October AND Fri, 7 October

LEADERS OVERALL

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 28:20

2. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 29:14

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 29:42

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 30:05

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) – 34:01

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 34:45

 

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 68:57

 

 

 

 

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 8:53

2. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 9:13

3. Flemming Wewer (DEN) – 09:25

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 10:04

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 10:59

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 11:31

 

 

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 25:01

 

 

 

LAST PEOPLE – this stage

  • Team AHO – 25 hours 1 min
  • Nir Greenberg – 24 hours 8 mins
  • Elena  Zurmuehlen – 24 hours 8 mins
  • Kasper Hald, Olivia Chui and Tia Beckmann – 23 hours 5 mins

 

WITHDRAWALS

So far

STAGE 1: Riz Akhtar (UK)

STAGE 2: Kirk Baird (USA), Giovanna Caria (ITA), Steve Lin (TAI), Brian Lang (CAN) and Mark Russell (UK)

STAGE 3: Bruce Ferre (USA), Ryan Dipedes (CAN), Tim Barnes (UK)

STAGE 4: Michael Mclean, David Cermak (CAN),  Katarzyna  Swist-Szulik (POL), LU Li (CHN), Michal Caspi (ISR)

STAGE 5: Lisa Akeroyd (UK), Junichi Asaka (JPN), Park Tae Hun (KOR)

 

That is an 14 % withdrawal rate so far this race.

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

73.4 km / 45.9  miles

Elevation

The race started at 2,316 meters / 7,598 feet

 

Total elevation gain was 372 meters

Total elevatoin lost was 263 meters

Terrain

Tough and long start with salt flats for 15km

Hard packed runnable desert for 15km

Up a 100m dune over 1km

Down the dune the other side

Along flat, slightly undulating moon valley terrain

Final climb up a hill and down the other side on hard packed ground

Highlights

2kms on an other worldly plateau

Running down amazing dune into Moon Valley

Running through Moon Valley

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

Hot but windy – keeping the temps down a bit

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

An exciting day with Flemming Wewer taking an early lead at the first few checkpoints.


Tommy Chen then go back into his flow, found his confidence and flew the last half of the course taking first place overall.

 

Jax Mariash Koudele stayed in the Top 10 overall but was out of the podium running for this stage.

 

Further back there was a mixture of “let’s get this down” and “take it easy this is a long stage”.

 

About 20% of competitors stopped for a rest at the overnight checkpoint with just a few staying until the final time when the checkpoint closed. 

 

There was some beautiful scenery, lots of cheering volunteers but also some tired people and low moments.  Everyone then happy and relieved to make it to Camp 6 and have a day to rest before finishing the race and celebrating tomorrow.

 

Now that they have completed the Long March and 242kms they all know that they can make it to the final finsihline in San Pedro main square.

 

QUOTES

Tia Beckman from South Africa - It has been a truly challenging and amazing experience all together – I think I’ve lost about 5 kilo’s in one week and my feet…I have blisters on blisters, but my heart is full and I’ve made so many new friends. This was definitely one of the best weeks of my life!

 

Jacqui Liddiard from the Unite States - This torture has been a dream come true.

 

Kristine Palmieri from Canada– is already preparing for her next race: “ I’ve collected an amazing number of tips and tricks while being here and I have  much better idea of how to plan and prepare for next time

 

David Souza from the Unitd States - My I have never walked so much in my life…the body was a bit confused.  My placing stinks, but I think I won the walker division

 

Robert Bennett from the United Kingdom - A number of people have told me this is the hardest thing they have ever done in their lives.  It has been a wonderful experience

 

Robert Bennet –  part 2 - And when I get there [home] I will take down a bottle of Irish Whiskey that has been saved for this occasion.  I will raise a toast to all the doctors and experts who said I would never be the same man after Brazil.  I will tell them that they were right, I am not the same – I am 10 times the person I was then.  And the best part is I am still getting stronger.

Thanh Vu from Vietnam - One of my tentmates said “I won’t really have any problems in life when I come back to London. Because after all this, nothing is really a problem anymore”.

Stage 6 Update

STAGE 6 – The Final Footsteps to San Pedro

Sat, 8 October

LEADERS OVERALL

MEN

1. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 28:58:20

2.  Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 29:51:39

3. Ben Dame (GER) – 30:21:35

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 30:47:54

2. Sarah Sawyer (UK) – 34:53:18

3. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 35:30:04

 

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 71:19:35

 

 

 

 

LEADERS – this stage

MEN

1. Flemming Wewer (DEN) – 00:36

2. Tommy Chen (TAI) – 00:37

3. Neill Weir (N.IRE) – 00:37

 

WOMEN

1. Jax Mariash Koudele (CAN/USA) – 00:42

2. Isabelle Sauve (CAN) – 00:44

3. Sarah Sawyer (UK) 00:51

 

 

TEAM

1. Team AHO (JPN) – 02:24

 

 

 

 

LAST PEOPLE – this stage

  • Team AHO – 2 hours 24 mins
  • Franco Zomer and Frank Rocktaeshcel – 1 hour 54 mins
  • Kenny Yiu, Olivia Chui & Matthew Kroehler – 1 hour 45 mins

 

WITHDRAWALS

So far

STAGE 1: Riz Akhtar (UK)

STAGE 2: Kirk Baird (USA), Giovanna Caria (ITA), Steve Lin (TAI), Brian Lang (CAN) and Mark Russell (UK)

STAGE 3: Bruce Ferre (USA), Ryan Dipedes (CAN), Tim Barnes (UK)

STAGE 4: Michael Mclean, David Cermak (CAN),  Katarzyna  Swist-Szulik (POL), LU Li (CHN), Michal Caspi (ISR)

STAGE 5: Lisa Akeroyd (UK), Junichi Asaka (JPN), Park Tae Hun (KOR)

STAGE 6: zero

 

That is an 14 % withdrawal rate so far this race.

SUMMARY OF COURSE

Distance

8.2 km / 5  miles

Elevation

Nothing notable.


Finishing in San Pedro de Atacama at 2,407 m / 7,896 feet

Terrain

Through the end of Moon Valley

On an old road through the desert

To the back streets of San Pedro

Into the San Pedro Main Square

Highlights

FINISHING THE RACE!!!!

SUMMARY OF WEATHER

Hot as usual but it was all over by midday after which everyone was resting in the shade of the trees and umbrellas in the cafes of San Pedro Main Square.  

BRIEF TEXT ABOUT THE RACE

At the front about twenty people went out fast finishing in under 45 minutes – the winner was 36 minutes with the Top 3 coming in pretty much together.


From there it was s steady flow of someone or a group of people arriving every minute.

 

There was a gap for the people who were treating this as a victory lap and doing the stage with the tent mates and new desert friends – in groups chatting and laughing.  Finally at the very back were Team AHO who arrived to the biggest applause of everyone.

 

Frank Rocktaeschel and Franco Zomer who have become firm friends on this 4 Deserts journey walked with Team AHO most of the way to enojy the atmostphere and support their “happy” friends.

 

Most competitors stayed to welcome each competitor behind them across the line while enjoying pizza and drinks.   Then they wondered back to their hotels for their first shower in days.

 

QUOTES

Tia Beckman from South Africa - It has been a truly challenging and amazing experience all together – I think I’ve lost about 5 kilo’s in one week and my feet…I have blisters on blisters, but my heart is full and I’ve made so many new friends. This was definitely one of the best weeks of my life!

 

Jacqui Liddiard from the United States - This torture has been a dream come true.

 

Kristine Palmieri from Canada– is already preparing for her next race: “ I’ve collected an amazing number of tips and tricks while being here and I have  much better idea of how to plan and prepare for next time

 

David Souza from the Unitd States - My I have never walked so much in my life…the body was a bit confused.  My placing stinks, but I think I won the walker division

 

Robert Bennett from the United Kingdom - A number of people have told me this is the hardest thing they have ever done in their lives.  It has been a wonderful experience

 

Robert Bennet –  part 2 - And when I get there [home] I will take down a bottle of Irish Whiskey that has been saved for this occasion.  I will raise a toast to all the doctors and experts who said I would never be the same man after Brazil.  I will tell them that they were right, I am not the same – I am 10 times the person I was then.  And the best part is I am still getting stronger.

 

Thanh Vu from Vietnam - One of my tentmates said “I won’t really have any problems in life when I come back to London. Because after all this, nothing is really a problem anymore”.

 

 

QUOTES FROM TOP THREE MEN & WOMEN

Tommy Chen:

I consider this as my first truly tough race. I know the Gobi March was hard but because of the heat but there I held off from running on Stage 5. Since then I feared the long day but after a couple of checkpoints I relaxed, the fear passed and I was filled with confidence. It has been an inspiring race!

 

Neill Weir:

This is my first multistage race and also the first time I carry a pack. It’s so hard to estimate or set goals- I have never even ran 47 miles before. But I prepared to do well and hoped to cross the finish line under 30 hours.  I’m surprised. The terrain was super hard, in particular the sand dunes on Stage 3. Having said that, running free on the sand dune in the Death Valley was one of the best parts of the race.

 

Ben Dame:

I wanted to be in top 3. I was planning to do the Paragonia Roving Race after Sri Lanka but set my mind to this race. The terrain in this race was hard but that proved to be my strength. Taller guys can beat me on flat road sections but the tricky, technical ground is my strength. 

 

Jax Mariash Koudele:

The Atacama Crossing has been my most impressive win. It means the most to me as it all started from here a year ago. I’ve train for the past 13 months so hard and although top 3 would have been great, I aimed to be the strongest female and to reach top 5. I’m so happy to have pushed such a competitive group of boys.

 

Sarah Sawyer:

I came here to enjoy. You can never predict the outcome as so much can happen in these races. I’m over the moon for the second place. Isabelle pushed me so hard.  I loved this race and the scenery. The challenging terrain was the hardest part for me.

 It has definitely been helpful to have Tom running by my side. We did 20 miles on the long stage separately but he caught me then.  

 

Isabelle Sauve:

I didn’t have a firm goal in this race but next time I’ll have …. I’ll be back! (laughs).

It has been an amazing race. It was well organised and the people were great. You can tell all the staff had their heart in it. I loved the water crossings and even the huge dune on Stage 5. The terrain for me was the toughest. 

 

 

 

Post-Race Update

The Atacama Crossing 2016 concluded on Saturday, 8 October at 12:24 in the afternoon when Team AHO from Japan crossed the final finishline in San Pedro Square.

However Stage 7, the Awards Banquet and post-race party was still to come.

The Awards Banquet is a time for celebration – celebrating completing the race, celebrating starting the race, celebrating new friendships made.   And of course for specifically recognising those who received special awards and recognition during the race:

TOP 3 MEN & WOMEN

MEN

WOMEN

1. Tommy CHEN – Taiwan

2. Neil WEIR – Northern Ireland

3. Ben DAME - Germany

1. Jax MARIASH KOUDLE – Canada / USA

2. Sarah SAWYER – United Kingdom

3 Isabelle Sauve - Canada

Amazing to have six nationalities represented in the Top 3 men and women!

 

THE AGE GROUP WINNERS - MALE & FEMALE

 

MEN

WOMEN

29 and under

Filippo ROSSI - Switzerland

Thanh VU – Vietnam

30 – 39

Tom SAWYER - UK

Rhianon WEST - UK

40 – 49

Iulian ROTARIU - Romania

Harriet NAUGHTON – UK

50 – 59

Daniel HUBER - Switzerland

Anne VERHAEGHE - Belgium

60 – 69

 ---

Clara BORRELL - Spain

 

THE TEAM WINNER

None other than the amazing: Team AHO from Japan

Team Aho is made up of 10 people – every single of those 10 people stayed within 250m of each other while on the course and crossed every finish line together.  The message from Team AHO is:

"Last year we were 6 of us, but this year, we have 10 members and so happy to finish with 10 all together.  Last year, Koshiro retired.  As he is almost blind (he has very very narrow view), he had to use his feet touch harder to see how the terrain is like.  Therefore he damaged his feet so bad, and he had to retire.  As he said he wanted to challenge Atacama again, we are back.  We welcomed who wants to challenge together.  Thank you to everyone we meet here in Atacama, all competitors, volunteers, management team and medicals.  We could not finish without your support and cheering.  Thank you, and Happy, Happy !"

THE SPORTSMANSHIP & SPIRIT AWARD WINNERS

These awards go to people who have shown true sportsmanship and got into the spirit of the race.  They could be leaders, people at the back of the pack, in the middle or even people who did not finish.

SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD for 2016 goes to: Mathieu Deliens from France

Mathieu supported a number of people along the way.  On an early stage he walked with his tentmate who was not feeling so well - giving up his own race.  He also stopped along the course to help a cyclist (unrelated to the race) who had fallen and used his first aid kit on them.

SPIRT AWARD for 2016 goes to: Ash Mokhtari from Iran / Canada

Ash was at his 8th consecutive Atacama Crossing – his 20th 4 Deserts / RacingThePlanet race.  Every year he gets excited by the race, talks to people on the course, shares his words of wisdom.

QUALIFIERS FOR THE LAST DESERT

A total of 45 people at the Atacama Crossing 2016 are qualified to join The Last Desert (Antarctica) – 18 of these people qualified when they crossed the final finishline of the Atacama Crossing 2016:

  • Kevin Bass
  • Jurgen Helibrock
  • Jason Huang
  • Muz Mohammed
  • Lukas Paszkowski
  • Andres Suifi
  • Christian Spangenberger
  • Joost Muylle
  • Jimmy Or
  • Kristine Palmieri
  • Iulian Rotariu
  • Sarah Sawyer
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Bruno Segiun
  • Jareb Steines
  • Betty Tod
  • Anne Verhaeghe
  • Marcus Ziegler