As we go into the final week before the Gobi March (China) 2017, we take a look at the exciting (fast) and inspiring field of competitors. There is some great competition at the top, but no outright favourite to win either the men’s or woman’s competition. With a field of almost 70% first time 4 Desert contenders, there are bound to be a few surprises looking for a podium place.
Front of the pack, middle of the pack or back of the pack, we have a great group of competitors from all over the world with some of the most interesting backgrounds and inspiring stories. Read further to find out more.
THE FAST ONES ....
We have an impressive group of past competitors joining us with a few Top 10 finishers, including Benjamin Dame from Germany who placed third in his last race at the Atacama Crossing 2016. Dame is currently the favourite to win this race.
His competition could be Jareb Steines from the United States who will join the 4 Deserts Club upon completion of the Gobi March - he placed in the top ten at The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 and has improved with every race.
Another strong competitor is Dirk Diemont from South Africa who placed in the top ten at the Atacama Crossing in 2016.
Jeffrey Ross from the United Kingdom is a first time 4 Deserts competitor but has had some strong results in other races including most recently 3rd place in his age group at the Standard Chartered Marathon in Kuala Lumpur.
Ben Fox is also a first timer in the 4 Desert Race Series and has been serious about his training on the Hong Kong trails and races and we are expecting an impressive run for him at the Gobi March – although he claims he will be happy with a Top 20 place.
THE WOMEN ......
we are looking toward Clare Thompson from the United Kingdom who won her age category at the Atacama Crossing 2015 and fellow Brit Alexandra Schneider who finished as the 6th female at the Sahara Race (Namibia) 2016 and also won her age group in the under 29 age category (this year she is competing in the next age group).
THE INSPIRATIONAL ONES ........
We are very excited to welcome back the hugely inspirational Salomon supported team, Five Legs Never Quit, from Hong Kong. This team includes amputee Mr. Camel Fung, his wife Ms. Bing Ying Icero Chong (who was nurse when he had his leg amputated many years ago!), and their team mate Mr. Yeun Leung Tsui. This is the second race in which Mr & Mrs Fung have participated after completing the Atacama Crossing in 2015.
Another one of our favorite competitors to mention is Philip Leung. Philip has been supporting 4 Deserts in the capacity of radio engineer, volunteer and a member of the course team since 2013. He is now taking on his first race as a competitor and has an incredible journey of discovering his physical fitness (and losing 20kgs) over the last four years, being inspired by the competitors he has supported along the way. Two other past volunteers will be embarking on their first race as a competitor: Adrian Franklin from France and Michelle Furlotte from Australia.
What better way to complete a 250km race in the desert than as a father-son partnership. Wu Shuyang will be joined by his son Wu Wenhua to complete the race – Wu Shuyang will join the 4 Deserts Club when he completes the race. Another competitor
David Nicholson from the UK and Dolores Paez from Argentina are at the Gobi March to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary!! The actual day is just a few days before the start of the race and there may be a surprise in store at the end …….
Then there is our very own “Gobi Fish” Cynthia who was one of the first women to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam PLUS in 2016 (only two women and eight people have ever completed this feat). Cynthia Fish is coming back to her third successive Gobi March and is bringing her niece Samantha.
THE TEAMS ..........
We have four teams competing in the Gobi March this year (including Five Legs Never Quit mentioned above), each from a different corner of the globe. It’s France vs. Australia vs. Hong Kong (with two teams).
Run for Fun - is three men from France, Alexandre Lucas and Xavier Abadie also at their third 4 Deserts race, and Jean Magnol who will be participating in his fourth 4 Deserts race.
Team Esquel - three competitors Francis Chan, Kin Chan and Lai Shan Siu who are from Hong Kong and each are taking on their first 4 Deserts Race. Lai Shan is a student from the Christian Zheng Sheng School which is a school for re-habilitation from drug offences.
Team Smith Racing - consists of two sisters and a brother from Australia - Alison, Kayte and Rhys will be taking on their first 4 Deserts Race.
You can follow the race LIVE from the Gobi Desert