Today is the last day before the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018 starts! They had a race briefing, race-check-in (where all gear was checked, forms signed, doctors met and race items picked up) and after a final shower, meal, re-pack of their backpack, they boarded buses to leave for Camp 1 in the Mongolian Wilderness.
At the pre-race Briefing all participants were given reminders on rules, safety and information about the course and expected weather. A special congratulations went to Wong Ho Chung, Alice Lee and Celvin Tseng from Hong Kong who won awards at the annual Hong Kong Trail Running presentation last night (but could not attend being in Mongolia). Gunnar Nielsen from Norway was also given a special mention as he was at the very original Gobi March in 2003.
After a long journey from Ulaanbaatar on a bumpy road, all 232 competitors plus staff arrived at Camp 1 in the Ruins of Khar Bukhin Balgas Palace where the sun came out and Mongolia showed off it's beauty and wildness. They were welcomed from by local musicians and performers before competitors settled in to their new surroundings and meeting their tent mates for the week.
It got dark around 9:30pm. Camp 1 is now peaceful with competitors inside their tents sleeping / resting. Preparing themselves for the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018 to start tomorrow. 40km / 25 miles lay in wait for Stage 1.
Tomorrow, Sunday 29 July, the race will get underway at 8am.
The competitive field includes Wataru Iino, 38, from Japan who is the 2017 winner of BadWater; Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito, 42, from Spain who was the 4 Deserts Champion in 2012 winning every 4 Deserts Race in the same year with some records still remaining as well as winning the Namib Race 2018; Wong Ho Chung, 31 from Hong Kong who was runner up in the Namib Race 2018.Others to watch include Kyle McCoy from the United States, Ben Fox from the United Kingdom / Hong Kong and Luke Atkins from Autralia.
For the women Isabelle Sauve, 42, from Canada, the Namib Race 2018 women’s champion ; Angela Zeah, 38 from Germany who is the Atacama Crossing 2017 women’s champion; and Chizuru Inoue, 45, from Japan are the favourites to win the race - but anything can happen! Others to watch include Fiona Glen from the United Kingdom, Amie Knoll-Pendleton from the United States.
Read more about the field in the feature "Who's Joing the Gobi March":
PHOTOS from Camp 1 (and check-in): https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/photos
BLOGS from Camp 1: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/blogs
VIDEO from today: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/videos
COURSE DETAILS to show tomorrows route: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/courseShare
Stage 1 is complete!
At 8am this morning, Sunday, 29 July, the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018 started under brilliant blue sunny skies. 232 competitors from 50 countries around the world set off across the vast grassy steppe.
Todays course was 39.8 km / 24.7 miles through open valleys with many nomadic farmers with their Gers and grazing animals. The first river crossing of the race comes 4km / 2.5 miles from the start. They will go through a small canyon and through a river bed which will be "fun" as they avoid the mud holes
The total elevation gain was 542m /1,800 feet with 452m / 1,480 feet of descent. The whole course is just above 1,000 meters / 3,330 feet with the highest point being 1,200 meters / 4,000 feet
Temperatures reached 32C / 90F today which was higher than forecast but some could cover helped competitors to keep on going strong.
The last section of the course is a bit more technical with a rocky riverbed.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
The first competitors completed the course in 3 hours and 4 minutes. The last competitors reached Camp 2 at 5:55pm which is 10 hours. But everyone finished Stage 1.
Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito from Spain, Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong and Wataru Iino from Japan - they all finished within 60 seconds of each other in just over 3 hours earlier today. Two firemen and an engineer!
1st. Angela Zeah from Germany 10th overall in 3 hours 48 minutes giving her a 30 minute lead for the women
2nd Isabelle Sauve from Canada 19th overall in 4 hours 21 minutes
3rd Chizuru Inoue from Japan 22nd overall and just 4 minutes behind Isabelle
1st: Never Give Up from Hong Kong - Alice Lee, her son Celvin Tsang and Edward Chan
2nd: Desert Turtles from Singapore - Ban Chuang Log, Dominic Tung and Chiat Wei Yao. Dominic said about today's course "Scenery was wonderful. The locals were friendly"
3rd: Team Esquel from Hong Kong, China & the United States - Juliana Batista, Chi Choi Yeung and Chun Yin Wong
There now just four teams in the race as Team Super Troppers (dressed as Abba) are continuing as individuals. A shout out to Team Free to Run which includes two ladies from Afghanistan who had a very positive day today.
Today's course was described by competitors as:
Nigel Vaughan from the United States who finished 175th in 7 hours 21 minutes "The course itself was beautiful. Vast expanse of prairies with wild flowers growing all over and framed with rocky quartz mountains. The course included a water crossing, a hill climb of about 1,000 feet and a trek through a bog before arriving at the camp.
Maik Becker from Germany who finished in 17th place in 4 hours 17 minutes "Hilly wide pastures surrounded by towering mountains have the look distracted again and again. Especially the strong scent of the Wildblueten confused the senses. The first small river crossing was also there already. And the sun is really the schleierbewoelktem sky. All in all a great scene to run.
Jacqui Bell from Australia who finised 35th overall, 6th female in a time of 5 hours and 3 minutes "The last 3km’s today as brutal – it was all MUD FLATS… the concentration to avoid face planting in the mud was ridiculous haha… happy to say I didn’t get a mud bath today although I did have my first river crossing. I spent 5 minutes trying to use stepping stones across but I slipped and ended up knee deep in water at only 10km’s in!"
Steven Wise from the United Kingdom who finished 171st in 7 hours 48 minutes describes tonights Camp "The campsite is surrounded by a sweeping plain with hills in th distance. We are beside a rock formation that ha 5,000 year old carvings and fossils of fish. Wild horses are playing in the fields as we have our dinner"
The camp site is set in among rocks which are covered in petroglyphs (rock art), maybe from Genghis Khan or his army?
I think all competitors will agree that today was a tough stage - the longer distance and the addition elevation made it tough.
Leaders after STAGE 2
MEN after Stage 2
1. Vicente Garcia from Spain - 7:11:53
2. Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong - 7:12:35
3. Wataru Iino from Japan - 7:18:16
4. Takuya Wakaoka from Japan - 8:24:13 (more than one hour gap)
WOMEN after Stage 2
1. Angela Zaeh from Germany - 9:00:46 - 9th overall
2. Isabelle Sauve from Canada - 10:15:11 - 16th overall
3. Chizuru Inoue from Japan - 10: 27:18 - 19th overall
TEAMS after Stage 2
1. Never Give Up from Hong Kong
2, Team Esquel from Hong Kong / United States
3. Desert Turtles from Singapore
The last people to complete Stage 2 were
Alyssa Hung from Hong Kong who said "I am not tired, just slow"
Kate Xiao from China / Hong Kong (see below)
Tae Hwan Kim from Korea (see below)
Team Free to Run from Afghanistan are still going strong slow but steady.
The Stage was 48km / 30 miles today with some good hills thrown in. Nigel Vaughan is becoming an expert course describer and observed on today's course "During the stage we climbed 8 “hills”, the offical elevation was 1,000 meters, about 3,000 ft, and my legs fought every inch of that over the 29 miles of the course. That puts me at 51 miles completed and 105 miles left, tomorrow will be nice to cross the 100 mile remaining stage."
227 people finished Stage 2 - there was a total of five withdrawals: Mohammed Al Qassimi, Abdulla Alahbabi, Kyle McCoy, Matt Norton and Olaf de Winter. We will see if all 227 start tomorrow's stage.
Robert Casserley said "This race surprisingly tough. Underestimate it at your cost." Rob has summited Mount Everest eight times.
Everyone seems excited about spending the night in Ger. If you are wondering what the inside of a Ger looks like - see below:
Blogs have been uploaded included some notable quotes are below.
Nigel Vaughan (again) "So I know some of the people reading this think I am crazy. There are 2 ladies doing the run dressed as Abba, one Japanese footballer who is kicking a football along the whole of the course. Then there is a guy who is doing the couse dressed in a full business dress, suit, tie and dress shirt. Now who is the crazy one!!!!"
Bethany Betzler from New Zealand "Every day when you make it to the finish line at camp, you can hear the sound of a drum calling you in. Today, hearing that sound was the sweetest relief. But the landscape was even more majestic than yesterday."
Vicky Huffey from the United Kingdom / Hong KOng "So day 2 is now complete, and im feeling really good! Yesterday was about finding my stride. There were the most amazing clear blue sky, which goes on forever. We had boys on horseback ride across the steps and wish us ‘Welcome to Mongolia! They recognised the England flag, and we exchanged names, Vicky being easily pronouncable, theirs bing nearly impossible but big smiles all round. Some extraordinary landscapes, which I can’t do justice to by describing them here. Wild horses, and waving families."
Ryan Bennett from United States / India "I’d look out to my left, and to the hills, and you’d see adolescent boys riding horses… it felt like a scene from a movie." and about the top runners he said "it is fun to watch them tear up the course and walk around camp like nothing even happened. These guys must love to run." he also admitted that he hasn't done this distance in 4 years, not even in training, but still finished strong
Full RESULTS: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/results
Sign Up for BREAKING NEWS to receive updates during the week: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/breakingnews
Tomorrow is a literally a marathon day at 42.5km / 26.5 miles but a techinical start and then the dunes.Share
Stage 3 Update
Wong Ho Chung and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito finished their third consecutive stage of the Gobi March 2018 (Mongolia) in the top position - just seconds 2 seconds apart. Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong completed Stage 3 in 3:51:46 but the Spaniard continues to lead the race overall. Less than a minute behind was Japan’s Wataru Iino, who completed the stage in 3:52:34. German Angela Zaeh was the stage’s top female competitor, finishing the stage eighth overall in 4:49:35.
After two successful stages, competitors woke up in a traditional Ger Camp, nestled at the base of a mountain, ready to tackle 42.5 km of what competitor Jacqui Bell called “a marathon of hills and sand dunes”. From where the competitors sat at camp, they knew that the only way out was up and at 8 am they began on a dust track that took them around rocky hills before arriving at a monastery. These initial 5 km of the stage had competitors, as American Nigel Vaughan described, “climbing up the side of a mountain” with 372 meters straight up. But while tough, many of the competitors enjoyed the stage start, with Bell calling it “a vertical rock climb” before adding “it was so fun!”
From the monastery, competitors continued along the dust track for a more moderate section up until the next checkpoint. But upon departing Checkpoint 2, competitors were soon faced with their next challenge: sand dunes. Competitors spent the next almost 14 km navigating the sand dunes, before rounding out the stage with a river crossing followed by a gentle uphill along a dusty road.
“Today started out pretty hard,” Scott Baldridge said. “We went straight up a mountain. It was steep and involved lots of scrambling up the rocks.”
Baldridge, who is one of the competitors attempting the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, compared the dunes in Mongolia with the ones he experienced in the Sahara Race just a few months ago. “These dunes were different from Namibia,” Baldridge said. “Lots of brush on them so it was nice… So far I am feeling awesome. The terrain is tough but I am holding up really well. I am feeling a lot better than Namibia for sure.”
Bell, who is attempting to be the youngest female to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, agreed that Stage 3 had gone well. Calling it her favorite day so far, the young Australian said: “I felt so great today and for the first time this race I was really loving it!”
Competitors were also forced to battle the elements in Stage 3, with many of them caught in the rain for the final leg of the stage, although one positive was the cooling temperatures. “About 6 miles from the end the rain started,” Vaughan said. “I am soaked, my clothes are soaked and we have no way to wash them or get showered. This is going to be a fun night in the tent.”
At 8:10 pm the final five competitors arrived into Camp 4 “The Steppe of Mongolia”: Masato Nakamura of Japan, Singapore’s Desiree Koh, Hong Kong-based Chinese competitor Kate Xiao and India’s Yogi Bhura.
As competitors celebrated the completion of Stage 3, many of them were eager to both take shelter from the rain as well as quickly begin their recovery process. The Long March -- a 70.1-km journey crossing the Mongolian Steppe to arrive at the UNESCO listed Orkhon Valley area -- awaits.Share
The Long March to the Orkhon Valley is complete. The last two competitors reached Camp 5 at 8:55 this morning - they were Paul Collis from the United Kingdom and Yasmina Ganse from Sweden. They were on the course for nearly 23 hours.
The total number of people who completed Stage 4 is 217 - there were four withdrawals on this stage including the two people who did not start the stage this morning. Some other times for finishing include Sam Itah from Israel at 20:18 last night, Alex Abiang from the United States at 01:15 this morning, Roy Kesel Meilichson from Israel at 02:27 and Jakob Schroeder and Jesper Smidt-Nielsen at 06:30 this morning.
The leaders each hold their position with Wong Ho Chung from Hong Kong in front, followed by Wataru Iino and Takuya Wakaoka, each from Japan. The women are still lead by Angela Zaeh from Germany.
The weather has not let up - it has been raining since the early hours of the morning and is expected to continue all day. Therefore the competitors been taken to a shelter - a local Mongolian gym. Here they are able to stay dry (and dry their clothes) and get some proper rest before the final Stage 5 tomorrow (Friday). An 8am start is planned for the 38km / 24 mile Stage.Share
Stage 5 is complete! All 217 competitors survived the Battle Grounds of Genghis Khan and are very happy at Camp 6 - the Old Orkhon River. Stage 5 concluded with a surpirse from the course director involving a raft for the final river crossing into camp. Competitors had to help out and paddle their way across to reach the finish line. When they reached camp, they were then treated to the local drink of fermented horses's milk called Airag - or horse's beer. A great way to relax after a week of great challenges.
The leaders for Stage 5 are listed below:
1. Wong Ho Chung @ 11:20 - that is 2 hours 35 mins to run 31kms!!!!
2. Wataru Iino @ 11:25
3. Takuya Wakaoka @11:26
4. Christophe Santini, Michael McLean, Malcolm Brown and William McMillan @ 11:51
8. Angela Zaeh (1st FEMALE), Ben Fox, Luke Atkins @ 12:06
11. Rafael Fuchsgruber, Sascha Gramm, Ryan Bennett and Junji Chikama @ 12:10
15. Isabelle Sauve (2nd FEMALE), Bart Van Schilt, Michal Gawron and Simon Wilson @ 12:17
16. Sam Itah, Maik Becker, Yukimori Hondo, Hiroyuki Matsuda, Bruno Ribeiro @ 12:25
24. Chizuru Inoue, Amie Pendleton-Knoll (joint 3rd FEMALE), Scott Andrews, Hichame Moubarak @ 12:32
28. Andrew Perkins, Jean Mouret, Lorenzo Cuyx and Marc Schneider @ 12:34
Tomorrow is the final day of the Gobi March 2018. Stage 6 is 9km / 6 miles starting at 7am and finishing inside the UNESCO Hertiage Site of the Karakorum Monastery.Share
The final stage of the Gobi March has concluded. Wong Ho Chung and Angela Zeah won the Stage – that means they are the Champions of 2018 for the men and women respectively.
The final stage was a short 9km / 6 miles to the final finishline in the Erdene Zuu Monastery in the Ancient City of Karakorum. The atmosphere was electric with race staff, volunteers, friends / family who had come to the finishline to see their loved ones cross the line, competitors who had withdrawn earlier in the week and the local people in Karakorum (residents and visitors alike). There were monks present to give medals to the finishers, as well as local musicians playing the traditional horse fiddle and Mongolian guitar.
The Awards Banquet is taking place now where competitors will eat, drink and celebrate a tough but amazing week in the western part of Mongolia. The overall Top 3, team category winner, age group winners, Spirit, Sportsmanship and Cable French Awards will all be presented.
There are three people who joined the 4 Deserts Club when they crossed the final finishline in Karakorum. This means they have now completed all 4 Deserts Races - they will be awarded their 4 Deserts medal tonight.Share
Gobi March (Mongolia) – Post Race Update
The Gobi March has concluded and the Awards Banquet took place at The Blue Sky Hotel in Ulaanbaatar with celebrations going into the night.
It’s been a week of challenges, achievements, celebrations, tears, and laughter in the great Mongolian steppe. There were nights in gers in the land of the eternal blue sky and even one night in a gym to seek shelter from the rain.
Awards were presented to the overall top 3, age category winners and team category winner, as well as the special awards for Sportsmanship, Spirit and Cable-French.
Overall Awards - Male
1. WONG, HO CHUNG, Hong Kong 20:34:08 (Champion)
2. IINO, Wataru, Japan 21:32:14
3. WAKAOKA, Takuya, Japan, 23:46:02
Age Group Awards - Male
29 & under: BIN, Jun Seok, South Korea 30:28:56
30-39: MCMILLAN, William, United Kingdom 24:46:37
40-49: FOX, Ben, United Kingdom 25:14:40
50-59: FUCHSGRUBER, Rafael, Germany 31:20:54
60-69: EATO, Christopher, New Zealand 41:07:14
70: ISHIHARA, Yoshiaki, Japan 50:57:08
Women's Division Awards
1. ZAEH, Angela, Germany 25:10:30
2. SAUVE, Isabelle, Canada 28:30:28
3. INOUE, Chizuru, Japan 29:55:16
Age Group Awards - Women
29 & under: PENDLETON-KNOLL, Amie, USA 30:16:53
30-39: SCHOENENBORN, Tanja, Germany 32:22:32
40-49: KATO, Reiko, Japan 34:38:46
50-59: BUCKLEY, Karen, Australia 35:34:58
60-69: MARUYAMA, Marie, Japan 52:17:56
Spirit Award: YOO, Dong Hyeon, South Korea
Sportsmanship Award: LYONS, Steve, United Kingdom
Cable-French Award: LEE, Sow Fong (Judi), Singapore
To review the full coverage of the week have a look at:
FINAL RESULTS: https://www.4deserts.com/gobimarch/resultsShare