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The Stage Updates below are from the 2018 edition of the race. The first Stage Update for the Atacama Crossing 2019 will be added in September 2019 when the race starts.

Pre-Race Update


Tomorrow, on Sunday, 30 September at 08:00 Chile time the competitors start their 250km race across the driest desert on earth!

The stage is 35km / 22 miles and the weather is expected to be hot without cloud cover – temperatures could reach 35C / , but there are strong gusts expected.

All participants are currently at Camp 1, Rio Grande, in the Rainbow (Acoris) Valley. They enjoyed dinner alfresco in the beautiful Atacama Desert meeting other competitors and re-uniting with old friends.  Most waitied for for the sun to set (it is generally dark by 8pm) before heading to their tents for the first time this week. 

There was a sense of relief, happiness and nerves around the Camp. Relief and happiness to be out in the desert after all these months of training and preparing.  No more decisions to be made, no more re-packing to do. Now they just have to eat, sleep, run, repeat.  

Camp 1 is at 3,300 meters / 10,500 feet - the highest point on the course. This can also make it one of the colder camps with some of the most stunning stars. 



  • Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong said to the media “I will try my best to be the champion”. At Camp 1 he was running around to loosen up his legs and feel the atmosphere and terrain for tomorrow.
  • Having just arrived yesterday from the United Kingdom, Leon Clarence was enjoying the pool side location. 
  • Maik Becker from Switzerland has had a few days exploring and has loved the landscape. 
  • Charlie Knight from the United Kingdom "hopes that the last 12 months of training has paid off". 
  • Duncan Thompson from the UK / China admitted that  he and his wife Becky Gu "chose the Atacama Crosing as our introduction to stage races because from the map it looks to be downhill all the way from the start !!"
  • Jason YooZealot Heogwak and Hongseok Choi from Korea who are taking part as Team GrandSlammers decided to test their waterproof bags IN the swimming pool!




Competitors have been arriving in host town for the Atacama Crossing for over a week enjoying the relaxed vibe of the desert oasis of San Pedro de Atacama.   

Iris Derke from New York City describes the San Pedro vibe “The town is like something from the old Wild West — dusty dirt roads, flat adobe buildings and lots of stray dogs with friendly faces and tails wagging, just taking a snooze anywhere they wish. Lots of 1980’s tunes playing from the local restaurants and bars intermixed with a church congregation singing hymns loudly.”

Race activities started on Friday with an opportunity to join the Ask Ash Session where Ash Mokhtari shared his tips about the Atacama Crossing course.  Ash is completing the Atacama Crossing for the 10th consecutive year in 2018!

It then all got real this morning – Saturday, 29 September.  Starting with the official race briefing and race check-in, both taking place around the pool of the race hotel Diego de Almagro.   After lunch competitors left for Camp 1, Rio Grande, in Rainbow Valley.



All racers (and some of the San Pedro dogs) attended.  As well as information about the course, safety reminders and a run down on the race rules, some key people were introduced. This included the

  • 15 people still set to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam
  • 2 x  4 Deserts Club members, Ashmokhtari and Simone Bishop.  As well as Andrew Reynolds who will join the 4 Deserts Club when he completes the Atacama Crossing
  • The oldest competitor, 66 year old Yves Garrigue from France. 
  • Happy Birthday to Greg Nance who turned 30 today, putting him into the next age group category for the race.

At competitor check-in racers have every piece of mandatory equipment checked, calories counted and they receive their official bag weight.  They also have a consultation with one of the medical team, have all their forms checked and receive their race bibs, race passport, etc.

  • Momo Chan was happy with her weight of 8.25kg.  
  • Jacqui Bell reached a bag weight PB at her third race with 7.25kg.

We will report the lightest and heaviest pack tomorrow, but they are expected to be under 6kg and over 14kg.




  • BREAKING NEWS – sign up to receive updates direct to your email during the race which means you will be the first to know the updates from the course. Breaking news updates will include details on the days course, the leaders, mid pack ranking through checkpoints, when checkpoints close and the last to leave them, any withdrawals, weather updates, quotes from racers and when new results, photos, videos, blogs, etc, etc are posted.
  • PHOTOS, including from Camp 1 are on the website
  • VIDEOS - a couple of pre-race videos have been added
  • BLOGS - enjoy reading the final installments of blogs written before leaving San Pedro
  • STAGE UPDATE (this)- a pre-race stage update will be added soon
  • Be sure to SEND MESSAGES of support.  Go to the RESULTS page, find your friend, click "send an email"
  • You may also enjoy various FEATURES including "Ones to Watch" to find out more about the top contenders "4 Deserts Championship Leaderboard So Far" and "Across the Atacama Desert which detalis some highlights of the course. 
  • COURS DETAILS including the elevation chart and approximate stage distances can also be seen. 

Remember you can check all information on the website WWW.4DESERTS.COM/ATACAMACROSSING/LIVE

As well as on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube

Stage 1 Update

STAGE 1: Navigation by Rock

The first night spent in the desert at Camp Rio Grande was very cold. Some woke up to find frozen water bottles. 


Despite the chilly morning competitors were excited to get going. Duncan Chau, who is joining third race in the 4 Deserts Race Series said "Ready or not, here I come! Looking forward to testing my grit. See you on the other side!"


Today's Stage was 35km / 22 miles which finished 600 meter / 2,000 feet lower than Camp 1, although it was not all down hill!  The distances between checkpoints as well as the elevation gain and loss can be seen below. 


Highlights of this stage included running through a small, dry canyon where runners could touch the walls on both sides and finished (up) an old Inca road which has some Inca rock art on it. Hopes were high that they would see more llama’s as there had been many around camp the night before, but there were no sightings .

It was strong start by the men with few place changes during the stage – except for a short while when the front three runners carried on for 500m / a third of a mile off course, but they soon caught up that time.  The top three men have nearly 45 minute lead over the rest of the pack:

The TOP 5 MEN:

1st - Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong in 3 hours 3 mins

2nd - Takuya Wakaoka from Japan in 3 hours 28 mins

3rd - Christophe Santini from France in 3 hours 32 mins

4th – Maik Becker from Switzerland – 4 hours 12 minutes

5th  - Sam Itah from Israel – 4 hours 24 minutes


The TOP 5 WOMEN ended as below, but there was some racing going on places changing through the stage. 

1st Jacqui Bell from Australia in 5 hours 12 minutes

2nd Le Ping (Denise) from Hong Kong – 5 hours 15 minutes

3rd Hannah Walsh from the United Kingdom - 5 hours 25 minutes

4th Szilvia Lubics from Hungary – 5 hours 26 minutes

5th Lara Reynolds from South Africa – 5 hours 45 minutes

6th Victoria Connelly from the United Kingdom – 5 hours 50 minutes


There are four teams in the competition from Korea, China, Japan and Macau.  The TOP 3 TEAMS are:

1st: GrandSlammers from Korea – Yoo, Cheogwak & Choi

2nd: AAJMC from Macau – Wong, Wong & Lei

3rd: CKGSB from China – Li, Wang & Wang

Most notable among the leading field is that there are twelve nationalities among the top thirteen places!

Carla Jacko from the United States closed off Stage 1, crossing the finish line of Stage 1 in 10 hours and 45 minutes.  At the back of the pack were also Isabelle Lo & her husband James Hughes, Paul Harrison from the United Kingdom and Brazilians Allan Carpes & Arthur Azvedo.

Some quotes from competitors about Stage 1 include:

Jaqui Bell – the leading lady

So today was apparently the easiest.. tomorrow is similar distance with a lot of water at the start. I am really hoping I didn’t go too hard today and wreck myself for the rest of the week but we will see. 4 big days to come J

Honestly loving it, being away at these runs I am in my element, absolutely back to basics, nothing to worry about and never any rush to be anywhere or doing anything. Couldn’t be happier with how today went!

Duncan Chau

I must start with last night, and I had the coldest and the best midnight pee!  The bright stars filled the night skies and the moon was so bright I did not need a torch to find the toilets

The scenery………….. OMG!!!! I mean I have been to many crazy places but here is just on a different level.  Words just can not describe it, I must have stopped 50+ times to take photos and videos,

Ernie Torain

Beautiful landscapes and friendly people. 

Jiani Buys

The first day’s scenery was spectacular. To see a stunning rock collection like  this against the backdrop of a even bigger stunning rock collection was out of this world. 

Duncan Thompson

Fantastic views, brutal flats extending for ever, canyons where you could touch either sides, and finally 6km uphill on an ancient Inca road !!

Don't forget to sign up for breaking news to receive short updates directly to your email. 



FULL RESULTS - full Results are on the website so you can see how your friends did and how close they are to others in the field. 

PHOTOS - more than 150 photos are on the website

VIDEOS - from Camp, the start and Stage 1 summary

LOGS - there are new blogs from Camp 2 written after competitors completed Stage 1.  These include Duncan Chau, Ana Saravia, Sofia Chahin, Jacqui Bell, Duncan Thompson, Szilvia Lubics, Jiani Buys, Ernie Torain, Maik Becker, Iris Derke and Scott Baldridge.  

SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT - don't forget to send messages to your friends.  If you send then before 12 noon local time in Chile on Monday, 1 October then they will be able to read them at Camp 3 tomorrow after completing Stage 2.  Go the results page, find your frined, click "send an email". 

Stage 2 Update

STAGE 2 - The Slot Canyons!! 

Competitors had an 08:00 for Stage 2 which was 37 km / 23 miles.  They continued to go down in overall elevation but still have some climbing, including going up 300+ meters to an old mining tunnel and then down a spectacular dune the other side into the Valley of Death(!). 

Section 1 = a short section up and then down into the river valley. 

Section 2 = went into the slot canyons where they were in water from ankle to thigh deep for about 5km / 3 miles before it opened up and dried out under foot. 

Section 3 = up a big hill (hard packed terrain), through a tunnel, along a ridge and then down a spectacular dune into the Valley of Death. 

Section 4 = flat, dusty, hot, desert of Valley of Death and then over a small dune through desert farmland and into Camp. 


It was another cold night and people were slower to get ready today feeling the aches and pains of Stage 1. However most people were up by 6am around the camp fires for a social breakfast and to warm up. However Michal Gawron from Poland slept right until the time of the breifing (30 minutes before the race starts). Fellow Polish competitor Marek Rybiec was all smiles as usual


"WOW WOW WOW WOW today is better than yesterday and yesterday was cool!  Tough as hell to the point Ithought I might not finsh, but it was a SUPER FUN day!"  Duncan Chau's summary of today. 

"Another fantastic day – uncountable river crossings through icy melt water from the Andes, running down a 300 meter (only a guess but at least that much) sand dune, more spectacular scenery (really hoping those photos come out), and an unending final 11km to Camp 2 through real Chilean desert." Duncan Thompson sums up the day well. 

Quote of the day goes to Jiani Buys from Canada describing the enourmous sand dune that they ran down "It felt like you fall into awesomeness". 

While Scott Baldridge describes the icy water in the slot canyons "It’s a funny feeling when your upper body is hot and sweaty but your feet are frozen to the point that they are numb."


TOP 5 MEN - Overall (after two stages)

  • 1. Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong - 6 hours 35 - has one hour lead!
  • 2. Takuya Wakaoka from Japan - 7:43
  • 3. Christophe Santini from France - 7:50
  • 4. Maik Becker from Switzerland - 9:02
  • 5. Greg Roadley from New Zealand - 9:37

TOP 5 WOMEN - Overall (after two Stages)

  • 1. Hannah Walsh from the UK - 11: 14
  • 2. Denise Le from China / Hong Kong - 11:15
  • 3. Jacqui Bell from Australia - 11:24
  • 4. Lara Reynolds from Denmark - 11:47
  • 5. Szilvia Lubics from Hungary - 11:50

So just 40 minutes between the Top 5 ladies - this is exciting!

Paul Harrison from the United Kingdom and Team Chicken Heart from Japan are bring up the rear in just under 20 hours. 

Tomorrow is another day. Stage 3, The Atacamenos Trail will start again at 08:00. It is 39 km / 25 miles with very little elevation gain or loss (until the final climb into camp) but debateably the toughest stage of the race. 


RESULTS: https://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/results

PHOTOS: https://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/photos

VIDEO - a superb summary of today - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztRjVbShzcs

BLOGS - Ten entertaining and gritty new entries: https://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/blogs

For updates during each Stage sign up for BREAKING NEWS

Stage 3 Update

The Atacamenos Trail

Competitors started at 08:00 from a very cold camp.  They warmed up with a chorus of Happy Birthday to Leon Clarance and Jason Chou. Everyone was looking very happy with smiles and thumbs up from the Stage 3 start line. 


Today is debatably the toughest stage of the race.  It is 39km / 24 miles and there is only 330 meters elevation gain over the whole stage however the terrain is tough and there have already been two stages in the legs, backs and feet. This is when the salt flats starts (imagine walking on frozen broccoli or coral). There is also a lot of soft sand and short steep climbs up sand hills. There were five Checkpoints today.


The Stage was summed up nicely by Lara Reynolds: "Great day. Happy to be done though. It was just desert and sand dunes. We had to crawl up the dune, so was literally clawing my way up."  


It was a tough day but generally enjoyed and racers are glad to be at Camp.  SIFEDINE DAOUDI from France explained how you handle the tough times "You have to stop sometimes to look at the desert becuase IT IS AMAZING. The race is very hard. But whe you stop and look at the mountains and the skies - WOW"


It was definitely an early to bed night as tired racers crawled into their sleeping bags before the sun went down and the temperatures drop. 


Kit checks took place yesterday. The Top 10 men and women had their bags checked as they crossed the finishline - there are some penalties reflected in today's scores. 




1st. Wong Ho Chung - 10 hours 55 minutes

2nd Takuya Wakaoko - 12 hours 54 minutes

3rd Christophe Santini - 12 hours 59 minutes

4th Maik Becker - 14 hours 31 minutes

5th Greg Roadley - 15 hours 4 minutes



We have our third change in leader in three days!  And there is just 3 minutes between the Top 2

1st Denise Le - 17 hours 40 minutes

2nd Hannah Walsh - 17 hours 43 minutes

3rd Lara Reynolds - 18 hours 22 minutes

4th Jacqui Bell - 18 hours 42 minutes

5th Victoria Connelly - 18 hours 44 minutes 

There were some filosophical moments out there today: 

Quote from the video: "You know running the desert gives me the opportunity to see places that I would never see otherwise.  It's just amazing." 







Stage 4 Update

Today was a day of beauty and carnage!

Stage 4, The Infamous Salt Flats, started at 08:00 as always. Competitors were in great spirits - it seems they slept well with a warmer night than previously and they were likely more tired after a tough Stage 3.

However things changed.  No change in the leaders. Wong Ho Chung cruised through the course finishing in 4 hours and 42 minutes and still in with a chance of setting a course record!   Takuya Wakaoka and Christophe Santini maintaining their positions and finishing within one hour of Wong and there is little change in the Top 10.

But by checkpoint 2 there were seven withdrawals as the terrain, heat and environment took it’s toll.  The withdrawals are:

  • Scott Baldridge
  • Sam Itah
  • Momo Chan
  • Nick Chiang
  • Cristian Saravia
  • Marco Frisenda
  • Toru Miyazawa

There were some notably impressive performances and struggles:

  • Hideki Fujikawa and Shinya Nakao from Japan who split from their team mate to run as individuals finished in joint 11th place taking them from very last up to 75th.
  • Hichame Moubarak from France / Qatar moved up 13 places
  • Leon Clarence moved up 23(!) places having teamed up with Dedi Williamson and Marshall Karesh.
  • Seunghyeon Yun from Korea moved up 23 places
  • Despite a tough day, the mother-daughter duo of Simone and Kimberley Bishop moved up 10 places. “I don’t think easy features anywhere at all. I am getting stronger, but the course is getting harder. I am so very very proud of my daughter – today was so tough and she was extraordinary.”
  • Ten-time Atacama Crossing veteran Ash Mokhtari moved down six places, only just keeping him in the Top 20.
  • Leading Team, GrandSlammers from Korea, also moved down a lot but still seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The women’s competition was exciting as ever.  Denise Le from China won the Stage to maintain her lead and the

  1. Denise Le
  2. Hannah Walsh
  3. Lara Reynolds
  4. Victoria Connelly
  5. Jacqui Bell

Jacqui Bell lost her 2 minute lead and turned it into being 15 minutes behind as she took dip in a watering hole to cool 5km / 3 miles before Camp and no regrets.  Life is living, not always for winning!! “My gosh, favourite day ever – the absolute highlight of the race today…swimming in a big lagoon



To find out the details, have a look at:






Stage 5 Update

The Long March - 79km / 49 miles

Another epic Long March at the Atacama Crossing finished today at 7:40am – nearly 24 hours after it started – when Lim Chunghyun from Korea reached camp to emotional welcome.

It was another 8am start for the 79km / 49 mile Stage. Ana (Bis) Saravia from Guatemala explained her emotions as “nervous and scared but excited to get going”.  Stanislas Gruau from France acknowledged that “I guess it is going to be mental today”.

Highlights of the Long March included running around the salt lake of Tebinquiinche in wet salt flats and long grass, stunning views at the top of a huge dune (that they had to climb), amazing lunar landscapes in the Valley of the Moon, a special treat of a can of Coke at Checkpoint 4 and a spectacular display of stars after the sunset.

Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong led from the start to win the Long March in an impressive time of 7 hours and 44 minutes.  The Top 10 positions remained more-or-less the same.  

Wong Ho Chung has had a spectacular run – leading the pack by more than 4 hours in an overall time of 23 hours 20 minutes after Stage 5, with less than 15km / 10 miles left for the final stage.  The course record is 23 hours 46 minutes – sadly it seems that he is not going to beat this record, but a sub-24 hour time is still possible. This will make him only the third person to have ever completed the Atacama Crossing sub-24 hours - joining Ryan Sandes and Vicente Garcia Beneito. 

Christophe Santini and Maik Becker crossed the finish line together but we later found out from Maik why.  “Before the finish there was another surprise. Christophe waited 20 minutes for me. He wanted to cross the finish line together with me. True sportsmanship. We are running a lot of kilometers a week together”.












WONG, Ho Chung



Hong Kong











SANTINI, Christophe

















New Zealand







Holland / Belgium




GLIGOR, Andrei







DAOUDI, Sifedine







GAWRON, Michal







GRUAU, Stanislas





For the women it was an exciting day as the heat took it's toll on the current womens leaders going into the Stage, Denise Le and Hannah Walsh.  Both finished but in 7th and 12th position respectively, allowing Le to retain a podium position in 3rd overall but moving Walsh out of contention. Lara Reynolds from Hong Kong won the stage for the women putting her in the overall lead and opening 2nd place overall to Victoria Connelly from the United Kingdom. Szilvia Lubics from Hungary had a great Stage 5 finish but not enough to move her out of 5th place overall. Jacqui Bell had a solid retaining her 4th place overall. 

















South Africa





CONNELLY, Victoria



United Kingdom





LE, Denise








LUBICS, Szilvia








BELL, Jacqui






Further down the field it was a test of endurance, stamina and mental positivity. Many small groups formed to complete the latter parts of the course in the dark. These people, who were complete strangers a week ago, have now formed a special bond that can not be taken away from them.

Sandra Wernli-Chiozzani and Jiani Buys stayed together from checkpoint 1 and literally screamed with excitement when they reached camp to complete the Stage.

Ernie Torain, Mike Nance and Evan Chiang were another such group.  As Ernie put it “one struggle, all struggle”.

Husband and wife, Duncan Thompson and Becky Gu were the penultimate people to complete the Stage. “The week has been incredible, exhausting, emotional, we’ve met great people, seen wonderful places, pushed our limits, and in the end we came through it together!”

There were two withdrawals today: Birgit Steiger from Switzerland and Nori Imai from Japan. 

Everyone is safely at Camp 6 resting and relaxing before the final "sprint" tomorrow back to San Pedro de Atacama where it all started.  The rest day is being spent enjoying some well deserved rest after a long week and yesterday’s Long March, relaxing, chatting with other competitors, reagaling stories of the week, sleeping and eating any last remnants of food left. Tonight they spend their last night in the Atacama Desert and start to contemplate on the events and achievements of the last week.

If you have haven't already, be sure to enjoy more details of the race: 


Stage 6 Update

And that’s a wrap, the Atacama Crossing 2018 is complete. 

Stage 6, The Final Footsteps into San Pedro, was staggered start with the slower people leaving at 07:30 and the faster ones at 09:00 to complete the 13 km / 8 mile Stage.

Arthur Azevedo and Allan Carpes were the first to cross the finish line – having had an early start. The only other early starters to make it to San Pedro in front of the leaders were Duncan Thompson, Becky Gu, Nicole Mak, James Hughes, Iris Derke and Evan Chiang.

Wong Ho Chung was the first of the late starters to cross the line, taking 58 minutes to complete the 13kms.

Lim Chunghyun from Korea was the last person to cross the finish line in 4 hours 21 minutes concluding the event.

There were tears, laughter, relief, happiness and a true sense of achievement.  A local band played as people crossed the finishline and a marching band parade came through to join the celebrations.  

Duncan Chau said “Amazing, it’s the toughest of all, but that will make so memorable”. 

Meanwhile Takuya Wakaoka has plans to climb Volcan Licancabur tomorrow(!), a 5,920 meter / 19,422 foot volcano that has looked down on the Atacama Crossing from every angle – almost always being in view on the course.



TOP 10 for the MEN

  • 1st – Wong Ho Chung, Hong Kong
  • 2nd – Takuya Wakaoka, Japan
  • 3rd – Stanislas Gruau, France
  • 4th – Chris Moreton, UK
  • 5th – Jamie Harrison, Canada
  • 6th – Sifedine Daoudi, France
  • 7th – Greg Roadley, New Zealand
  • 8th  - Maik Becker, Switzerland
  • 9th – Marco Baumgartner, Switzerland
  • 10th – Christophe Santini, France


TOP 5 for the WOMEN

  • 1st – Fiona Oakes, UK
  • 2nd – Szilvia Lubics, Hungary
  • 3rd – Victoria Connelly, UK
  • 4th – Lara Reynolds, South Africa
  • 5th – Jacqui Bell, Australia


Now it is off to the Awards Banquet to celebrate further. The overall winners for the Men, Women and Teams will be presented their awards.  The Age Group winners will also be presented with a special trophy and a special award for the Sportsmanship and Spirit will be presented.  A final breaking news with these winners will be sent after the presentations


The website has been fully updated with



We will later produce a short documentary film on the race that will be sent to competitors in the race.

Post-Race Update

The Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2018 concluded on Saturday, 6 October. The celebrations took place at the San Pedro Square where 93 competitors received their finisher medals. 

The Awards Banquet was held at the Toconar restaurant where the winners of the race received their awards and photos and videos from the event were displayed. 


Wong    Ho Chung
Wakaoka    Takuya
Santini    Christophe


Reynolds    Lara
Connelly    Victoria
Le Ping (Denise)


The GrandSlammers: 
Yoo    Dong Hyeon
Choi    HongSeok
Heogwak    Cheongshin (Zealot)


Lo Jasmine


Kim Chae Wool (Chloe)

The final results, photosvideos and press release are available on the Atacama Crossing website. Registration for the 2019 edition is available.