*Note that all times are approximate and may change.
Host Town for the Race
  • Ulaanbaatar, Capital City of Mongolia
  • Many airlines from Asia provide direct flights to Ulaanbaatar. Most international airlines have stop overs in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong or Moscow.
  • If you have any questions about travel email us: [email protected]
Thursday, July 25
  • Volunteers arrive (any time)  at the event hotel
  • Volunteers stay overnight at the event hotel
Friday, July 26
  • Volunteer training (all day)
  • Competitors arrive (any time) at the event Hotel
  • Competitors & Volunteers stay overnight at the event Hotel
Saturday, July 27
  • 09:00 : Competitor Briefing
  • 10:00 - 13:00 : Competitor Check-In, including administrative, medical and equipment review.
  • Afternoon : Depart for Camp 1
Sunday, July 28
  • 08:00 : Start / Stage 1
Monday, July 29
  • 08:00 : Stage 2
Tuesday, July 30
  • 08:00 : Stage 3
Wednesday, July 31
  • 08:00 : Stage 4
Thursday, August 1
  • Stage 4 (continued)
Friday, August 2
  • Stage 5
Saturday, August 3
  • 10:00: Stage 6
  • 12:00 (noon): Finish
  • 19:30: Awards Banquet
  • Competitors & Volunteers stay overnight at the event hotel.
Sunday, August 4
  • Departure

Location, Weather & Culture

Mongolia, raw wilderness and natural beauty as far as the eye can see in the vast openness of the grassland, stupas, ger villages and Buddhist Monasteries. The Gobi March (Mongolia) takes places in the culturally rich and visually stunning area of Karakorum.

Competitors will have the opportunity to experience a diverse and varied course, with highlights including Karakorum, the 13th and 14th century capital of Genghis Khan’s Empire, the vast steppe, the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Centre, as well as ancient ruins, temples and stupas. The terrain will include sand dunes, great rock valleys and old forests, while competitors will at times sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts. Competitors will also experience a traditional Naadam Festival, featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery – known as the “three games of men.”


The host town for the race is the capital city of Ulaanbaatar - which translates to “Red Hero”. This bustling city, known for its stark contrasts, is where you will be able to experience the local culture of Mongolia whilst also seeing the busy life of the modern-day country. You will have the opportunity to visit Gandantegchenling, which translates roughly as ‘the great place of complete joy’, Ulaanbaatar’s oldest and most iconic temple. 

Half of Mongolia’s population, approximately 1.3 million people, live in Ulaanbaatar. This means you will find an interesting mix of Mongolia’s twenty-nine ethnic groups. Their colourful culture, unique way of life and lack of visitors from outside of Mongolia make Ulaanbaatar a unique place in Central Asia.


The climate in Mongolia varies greatly depending on the specific location due to the topography, which varies from plain, desert and mountain climates. The temperature around the country can go as high as 50°C / 122°F in the summer and has been known to drop to -40°C / -40°F in the winter. The Gobi March is held in the summertime: Temperatures are expected to range between 15-35°C / 59- 95°F during the day. They could get as low as 0°C / 32°F at night. There is a possibility of rainfall during the race. The race starts at approximately 1,000 m / 3,300 feet and climbs up to an elevation of approximately 1,500 m / 5000 feet and remains at this level for most of the race. During The Long March, competitors will reach the Orkhon Valley.


The Gobi March was founded in honor of three missionaries: Mildred Cable and sisters Francesca and Eva French. Mildred, Eva and Francesca were Christian missionaries who began their work in China around the turn of the 20th century. After more than 20 years of doing routine missionary work in China, the trio headed northwest - to the Gobi Desert and beyond.

The women travelled for months by ox cart along the vast trade routes of the Gobi Desert in Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces. They made a point of visiting the poor, feeding orphans, healing the sick and educating girls. More than once they were assailed by bandits, caught up in local wars and even the occasional blinding blizzard.

Identifying the similarity with these pioneers and their maverick determination, RacingThePlanet held its first 4 Deserts race, the Gobi March (China) 2003. Like Cable, who had "become part of its life" after crossing the length of the desert more than five times, so does each participant of the Gobi March become a part of the history and legacy of this majestic land.

A special award, the Cable-French Trophy, is presented to the competitor who best exemplifies the characteristics of Mildred Cable, and Eva and Francesca French.


Competitors will obtain a rich cultural experience as the course passes through numerous villages and homesteads of the local community. There are 29 ethnic groups in Mongolia. Brief descriptions of two cultures are provided below, as well as the Khalkas who make up the majority of the Mongolian population.

The Durbet

The Durbet are a Western Mongol tribe. They are primarily located in the western part of Mongolia, near the border of Russia. In the early 1600s, most of their ancestors left their homeland, Dzhungaria, which is now part of the Xinjiang region of China.

In addition to raising horses, most of the Durbet also raise cattle and sheep. Many of the Durbet live as nomads, and their lifestyle is one of seasonal migrations. Their dwellings are portable tents called gers or yurts, made of felt on lattice frames. Their diet includes millet, milk tea, dairy products, mutton, and kumiss, or fermented mare's milk.

The Kazakhs

There are about 100,000 Kazakhs in Mongolia who make about 5% percent of the population.

They are excellent horsemen and have generally kept their nomadic ways of life. Many Kazakhs in Mongolia maintain traditional semi-nomadic herding by moving with their animals several times a year, and living in a Kazakh-style ger (larger and taller than a Mongolian ger) during the summer.

The Kazakh diet is primarily mutton, naan bread, and tea mixed with sheep or horse milk. Mutton is often eaten in big chunks by hand and naan bread is dipped into tea with goat's milk.

The most visible expression of tradition one will notice is the world famous art work of these nomadic people of the steppe. Kazakhs are famous around the world for their intricately embroidered wall hangings (tuskies) used on ger (yurt) walls. A typical ger may have 5 to 7 wall hangings that can take 200 hours to hand stitch each. The curving designs of the wall hangings are patterned after goat horns which symbolize the primary source of wealth of the nomadic herder.

The Khalkhas

The Khalkhas are the largest group of Mongols in Mongolia. They consider themselves the direct descendants of Genghis Khan and, therefore, the true preservers of Mongol culture. Khalkha people represent over 80% of the population.

Traditionally, most Khalkha lived in mobile herding camps that were moved four or five times a year from one pasturage to another. The traditional Khalkha dwelling was the circular felt tent erected on a collapsible lattice frame. This structure—called a ger or (in Turkic languages) a yurt, or yurta—is readily disassembled and transported. In the late 20th century it was still a common form of housing in Ulaanbaatar, where population growth outpaced the construction of apartment buildings.

The Khalka diet consists almost entirely of meat, milk, and other animal products. The most popular drink is fermented mare’s milk, or airag.

Naadam Festival

Naadam Festival is considered an expression of nomadic culture and a celebration of a national independence through traditional sports and art featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery – known as the “three games of men.”

The origin of Naadam festival is directly linked to the history of Mongolian military practice during the time of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan whose selection of his key soldiers was based on a series of physical tests. The leaders of military groups chose their warriors based on their strength, movement and flexibility revealed in their wrestling skills; their eyesight and hand-orientation shown in their spear-throw and archery skills; and their patience and bravery exposed in their horse training and horse racing skills during public competitions. Before and after major battles, the three sports - wrestling, horseracing and archery - were exercised as an organized event, which later adopted its present name - Naadam.


Mongolia sprawls across an area almost three times the size of France and twice the size of Texas, and at the same time, it has the world’s lowest population density. Doubled with the nomadic nature of its people (which therefore means there are few cities or infrastructure) and their Shamanic beliefs that prohibit interference with the environment, Mongolia’s nature and wildlife remain well-preserved and relatively undisturbed.

Mongolia, historically Outer Mongolia, is located in north-central Asia. It is roughly oval in shape, measuring 1,486 miles (2,392 km) from west to east and, at its maximum, 782 miles (1,259 km) from north to south.

About 85% of the population are ethnic Mongols of whom the vast majority (about 90%) are Khalkha. The remainder include Durbet Mongols of the north and Dariganga Mongols in the east. Turkic speakers (including Kazakhs, Turvins, and Khotans) account for about 7% of the population. Other groups include those of Chinese and Russian origin.

Did you know?

There is a theory that Mongolian horseman may have invented ice cream when they took cream in containers made from animal intestines as provisions on long journeys across the Gobi desert in winter. As they galloped, the cream was vigorously shaken, while the sub-zero temperature caused it to freeze. The expansion of the Mongol Empire spread ice cream through China, from where Marco Polo reputedly brought the idea to Italy when he returned from his travels in 1295.


The Gobi March course is located in the Karakorum region in Central Mongolia. The course takes you through vast green grasslands, stupas and temples, sand dunes, great rock valleys and old forests, while competitors will at times sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts. The Long March will take you through wide Mongolian steppes as you make your way towards the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape and further to the ancient city of Karakorum, the former capital of Genghis Khan’s empire. You can also experience the colourful culture of the Naadam Festival, held during the time of the race.



The total distance of the Gobi March (Mongolia) is 250 kilometers / 155 miles over six stages. The distances of each stage are listed in the box below. Note that all distances are approximate - the exact distances will be provided in the course book that competitors receive at Competitor Check-In in Ulaanbaatar.

Stages Estimated Distances
Stage 1 41 km / 25 miles
Stage 2 44 km / 27 miles
Stage 3 40 km / 25 miles
Stage 4 69 km / 43 miles
Stage 5 43 km / 27 miles
Stage 6 13 km / 8 miles

*NOTE: all distances are subject to change.


The Gobi March (Mongolia) course has a total of 4,450 meters / 14,600 feet of elevation gain and 3,825 meters / 12,550 feet of elevation loss. The lowest point of the course is at 1,015 meters / 3,330 feet and the highest point is just under 1,765 meters / 5,791 feet.

Lowest Point 1,015 meters / 3,330 feet
Highest Point 1,765 meters / 5,791 feet


The 250-kilometer / 155 mile course will take competitors through beautiful landscapes, rough terrain and unique culture off the beaten track. The course is primarily on tracks, trails and off-road. Terrain will consist of a combination of grassland, fields, soft sand and dunes, rocky terrain, river beds, gravel tracks, river crossings, climbs and descents. The course does not include technical climbing.


During each stage checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers (6 miles) along the course.

At each checkpoint competitors must:

  • Be logged on arrival by event staff
  • Take a minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section of the course
  • Abide by any instructions given by the event staff due to changing course conditions (e.g. thunderstorms, sandstorms, fog, terrain changes, etc.)

At each checkpoint competitors can:

  • Rest for a short period of time
  • Take advantage of the shade that the checkpoint tent provides
  • Seek advice and treatment, if appropriate, from the medical doctor at the checkpoint

Please note that adverse weather conditions and other factors can result in changes being made to the course.


The much-anticipated long stage in all of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series events is known as The Long March. Generally, this stage is between 60 and 100 kilometers (37 to 62 miles) long, roughly double the length of the previous four stages.

The stage follows much the same format as the previous ones: checkpoints are located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) apart; however, many competitors will take the opportunity (the only one in the week) to have a few hours of sleep at a designated Overnight Checkpoint.

At the Overnight Checkpoint, there will usually be a tent in which competitors can sleep as well as a campfire or stove where hot water is available for drinks and meals.


The Gobi March is part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series which was named by TIME magazine as one of the Top 10 Endurance Competitions in the world.

The Gobi March (Mongolia) is a 250 kilometer / 155 mile long self-supported footrace that takes place over six stages / seven days and is the most culturally rich race you will find.

The Gobi March (Mongolia) starts on 28 July 2019. It is the 16th edition of the race.

Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia – this is where 45% of the population live. Ulaanbaatar is also the host town for the Gobi March (Mongolia).

The course of the Gobi March (Mongolia) follows the footsteps of the Great Genghis Khan with the race ending Karakorum, the 13th and 14th century capital of Genghis Khan’s Empire, in the vast steppe.

Gobi March (Mongolia) will pass through the UNESCO Heritage Site of the stunning Okrhon Valley. It will be a mixture of open grasslands, sand dunes, rocky mountains, nomadic farmlands, great rock valleys, old forests, wide rivers and old heritage sites.

Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world (there are more horses, cows and sheep than people!)

Much of the population of Mongolia still hold onto its old traditions and cultures. Gobi March (Mongolia) competitors will witness and experience this untouched culture in its natural form – in particular through the nomadic farmers along the course.

Mongolia’s biggest celebration is the Naadam Festival which takes place in July each year. Competitors will experience a traditional Naadam Festival, featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery – known as the “three games of men.”

Competitors will also sleep in traditional Gers (yurts) at some Camps during the race.

“Land of the Eternal Sky” is one of Mongolia’s nicknames. This name has been earned from the 250 days (average) of blue sky it experiences each year (but don’t be fooled, a blue sky does not always mean high temperatures.)

Weather in the Gobi region of Mongolia is some of the most extreme in the world. Temperatures vary between -30°C / -22°F in winter to +40°C / 104°F or higher in some regions during summer. During the Gobi March (Mongolia) temperatures are likely to range between 5-35°C / 41-95°F during the day. They could get as low as 0°C / 32°F at night.

Around 200 competitors representing more than 40 countries will compete in the Gobi March (Mongolia).

The fastest finish time on any Gobi March course was set by Vicente Garcia Beneito of Spain with an overall time of 23 hours and 12 minutes in 2012.

More than 50% of Gobi March (Mongolia) competitors are expected to have completed a previous RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts ultramarathon, with 50% joining for the first time.

Approximately 20% of competitors run the entire course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% walk the entire course. The fastest completion time is expected to be around 24 hours and the slowest around 70 hours.

The Gobi March (Mongolia) is a self-supported race; competitors must carry all mandatory items for seven days on their backs. The average backpack weighs 9 kilograms / 20 pounds.

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

RacingThePlanet and the Esquel-Y.L. Yang Education Foundation partnered to create the RacingThePlanet-Esquel Scholarship Program, a seven-year program (2013-2019) to support education for girls in the Gobi region.

Many competitors raise money and awareness for charities around the globe through their participation in the Gobi March (Mongolia).

During the Gobi March (Mongolia), competitors, volunteers and staff are expected to consume up to 15,000 liters of water in total.

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


What is the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

The Gobi March (Mongolia) is one of the four races that comprise the world renowned 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series of 250 kilometer / 155 mile, six-stage, seven-day, self-supported rough-country, endurance footraces. In 2016, the Gobi March celebrated the 50th race of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series and in 2018, the Gobi March moved to Mongolia!

Is the Gobi March (Mongolia) an ultramarathon, adventure race, expedition race or other extreme race?

The Gobi March (Mongolia) is part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series. We like to think of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series as its own unique category or genre. The races are ultramarathons but do not fit into the classic definition of an ultramarathon. Instead, we refer to the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series as a series of self-supported rough-country endurance footraces which can be completed by running or walking.

What is the format of the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

The Gobi March (Mongolia) is a 250-kilometer / 155-mile race which is split up into 6 stages, over 7 days. The approximate format is provided below.

Stage 1 40 km / 24 miles Day 1
Stage 2 40 km / 24 miles Day 2
Stage 3 40 km / 24 miles Day 3
Stage 4 80-100 km / 50-62 miles* Day 4 and 5
Stage 5 40 km / 24 miles Day 6
Stage 6 10.0 km / 6.2 miles Day 7

NOTE 1 - The distances shown above are approximate.

NOTE 2 - Competitors must carry all their own personal gear, food and clothing in a backpack. The only assistance provided to competitors is water for drinking and preparing food (typically freeze dried meals), tents to sleep in at night and professional medical and operations support.

Why was this location chosen for the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

Deserts are separated into four categories: subtropical, cool coastal, cold winter and polar. The 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series are located in the largest desert of each category, also representing the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on Earth.

The Gobi Desert is the largest cold winter desert. A cold winter desert is created by the rain shadow effect in which a tall mountain range causes warm, moist air to rise and cool. As the air cools, water vapour condenses out and falls as rain or snow, leaving the air dry and creating a desert on the lee (upwind) side of the mountain.

The course for the Gobi March (Mongolia) has been set up to pass through some of the most beautiful, pristine and untouched land on Earth.

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

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

What is required in order to take part in the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

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

The first step to compete in the Gobi March (Mongolia) is to fill out the online registration. The deposit then needs to be paid to secure your place.

Who typically competes in the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

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

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

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

How much training is required?

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

There are a number of resources available to help people prepare and train for the Gobi March (Mongolia); some of these are listed below:

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

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

What is included in the entry fee?

The entry fee or the Gobi March (Mongolia) includes almost everything from the arrival at the event hotel on Friday before the event start until departure on Sunday after the event conclusion. Specifically, this is:

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

Additional costs to consider are flights / transport to the event hotel and mandatory equipment.

What medical support is provided?

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

During the race, there is a medical doctor at almost all checkpoints to offer assistance and care on the course. There is also a medical tent located at every campsite where competitors can seek medical assistance or advice. Note that this is a self-supported race, so each competitor must bring the mandatory medical items listed in the equipment list but there is no penalty for visiting the medical team.

What equipment do I need?

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

Failure to have every mandatory item in the quantity required will result in time penalties or you may not be allowed to start the race.

How much does an average competitor backpack weigh?

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

Where do competitors sleep each night?

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

How do I get to the start of the race?

We provide information on common flight routes and local contacts to help competitors make arrangements to get to the host town / city in Mongolia. We also provide information on staying additional nights at the hotel, airport transfers, domestic flights and other travel arrangements.

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

The Gobi March (Mongolia) website is updated daily during the event with real time breaking news, stage updates, results, competitor blogs, features, and hundreds of photos and videos. Supporters can follow the event by:

Can I volunteer at the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

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

What else is special about the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

Each event highlights the most spectacular, unspoiled scenery and indigenous culture in the region with the hope of preserving the culture for generations to come. At the Gobi March (Mongolia), competitors experience the friendship and warmth of the local people, including Mongols and Kazakhs. All ethnic groups have their own unique cultures.

What is the best part of the Gobi March (Mongolia)?

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

Can I run for a charity?

Absolutely – we encourage it. Giving back is one of the primary themes of the 4 Deserts Race Series Mission. Many of our competitors have raised significant amounts of money for charities all over the world. We do what we can to help you promote your chosen charity and there are two expert articles written by past competitors: Why and How You Should fundraise and Top Ten Steps to Raising Money For Charity

My absolute goal is to complete The Last Desert in Antarctica. Can I compete in this event first?

No. The Last Desert (Antarctica) is an invitation-only race - it is only open to those who have completed at least two of the other 4 Deserts races, including the Gobi March (Mongolia), Atacama Crossing (Chile) and Namib Race (Namibia).

Any last words to describe the 4 Deserts Race Series?

Life enhancing for all, life changing for many.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note: There is no navigation in the event.

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

You must have minimum of 60 ml / 2 fl oz of sunscreen. Choose a brand with high SPF that is waterproof, sweat-proof and non-greasy.

Lip sunscreen is necessary to protect lips from the sun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full finger gloves are required for warmth in the cold.

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

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

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

You must be able to carry containers that can hold 2.5 liters of water at all times. We advise having capacity for 1.5 liters in bottles or a bladder that are easy to access and fill up. In addition to this, you must have a separate Platypus SoftBottle for 1.0 liter (or 2 soft bottles for 0.5L), which folds up inside your backpack, when not being used.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEHIND THE SCENES Show All   |   Hide All

Campfire Comfort

The campfire is an integral part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series and RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon. Nurtured and tended by our local staff, who keep a constant kettle of water boiling, the fire could be counted as the greatest luxury at a 4 Deserts / RacingThePlanet race. After a hard day in the desert, there is nothing quite like the camaraderie and comfort provided by the fire. An opportunity to meet fellow competitors, swap tips and marvel at some of the ingenious meals being prepared, goes a long way to help ease sore limbs. Before competitors awake in the morning, the fire is rekindled and the kettle of water boiled for breakfast - a blissful cup of tea or coffee and a bowl of Expedition Foods Porridge with Strawberries are perennial favourites to savour as the sun rises.

Flags and Banners

Handmade flags and banners are used in all RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts races, including the Gobi March. Sometimes the locals help with displaying the banners. At the Gobi March 2006, expert Kazak horsemen carried the flags to start the event. In addition, nationality flags line the start and finish line each day typically representing 40 or more nationalities.  To date, more than 100 nationalities have taken part in a 4 Deserts or RacingThePlanet race.

World Class Volunteers

Volunteers are carefully selected from around the world to ensure a variety of nationalities, language abilities, fitness levels and general experiences to form a world class support team able to work successfully in challenging conditions. Approximately three volunteer applications are received for every available position. View our Gobi March staff and volunteer team.

Media Coverage

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

RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts uses a combination of satellite, mobile communications and drones to distribute content from the races to our website and to broadcasters around the world. During each stage of the race we post updates to the website about race leaders and individual competitors several times per day. We also post daily video highlights captured by staff, volunteers and competitors.

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

Remote Communications

RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts communications systems feature top-of-the-line, lightweight tablets. The Gobi March features twenty of the most powerful portable transceivers (or handheld radios) available, twelve 25W mobile transceivers (car radios) and two repeater stations. In addition, staff will utilize Iridium satellite phones as backup – the only satellite provider with global coverage from Pole to Pole. In some areas of the course, standard cell phones will be utilized. To obtain broadband internet coverage, RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts will use BGAN satellite terminals which have been successfully deployed in all the major deserts of the world including Antarctica.

The Glowstick Path

RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts is bringing 3,500 glowsticks to mark the Gobi March course in the evening hours. These glowsticks are purchased directly from the factory to ensure that they offer maximum light while in the hot and cold climate of the desert.  In addition, special highly reflective tape is attached to each pink marker as back up in case the glowsticks fail or are taken by children along the course.

Giving Back

RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts endeavours to give back to the local community. In 2013, RacingThePlanet and the Esquel Y.L. Yang Education Foundation launched a seven-year scholarship program, called the Esquel-RacingThePlanet Scholarship Program, which supports education for local girls in the Xinjiang Province. RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts has collaborated with the foundation since 2005 by donating sporting equipment, computer centers and more than 8,200 books to schools along its race routes.  It has also sponsored Operation Smile missions around the world. RacingThePlanet and the 4 Deserts will never waiver in its efforts to support charities and worthwhile initiatives around the world.

The Finish Line

The finish line of Stage 6 is a time for celebration for all race participants to enjoy the past week of hard work. Finishing competitors receive their finisher medals and everyone partakes in food and drink. There is local music and sometimes dancers providing entertainment.  The finish line takes an enormous amount of thought and planning, but sometimes plans need to be changed. In the past, we've had to purchase wheat fields and hire elderly men as the cheering squad.  Oftentimes, we've had children from local schools attend the finish line to cheer on those reaching the finale of 250 kilometers.

Pewter Medals

Competitors that finish the Gobi March receive specially designed pewter medals presented at the Stage 6 finish line. Each medal is made of the highest quality pewter from Malaysia and weighs 345 grams. The medals have become an iconic feature of the 4 Deserts.

Expedition Foods

Expedition Foods is the official food partner for the Gobi March. Expedition Foods pioneered the concept of expedition foods by providing highly nutritious, delicious and lightweight food, and has built a reputation on quality, service and choice, boasting arguably the largest range of meals available in the world. Expedition Foods’ 800kcal range is the highest calorie-to-weight food available on the market. They also have a regular serving range of 450kcal meals and an extreme energy range of 1000kcal.   Expedition Foods’ objective is to provide a mix of traditional meals with dishes from around the globe. The diverse menu, which appeals to all tastes, is coupled with continual innovation and product development. Expedition Foods can be found at www.expeditionfoods.com.


In 2015, RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts introduced 25L re-useable bottles of water to reduce trash and lessen the environmental impact. By using this new water system, we have reduced the amount of rubbish generated from plastic bottles by 70%. This is part of the RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Race Series values to leave no trace.  During the Gobi March more than 15,000 liters of water will be consumed by participants as they complete the course and prepare their meals at the Camp each night.