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Pre-Race: Breaking News 10

Sun, 20 November 2016 at 23:45

Local time in Argentina / Antarctica is 23:45.

LAND IS IN SIGHT!!!!!   The expedition ship for The Last Desert has arrived in Antarctica!

It's been just over two days (54 hours!!) since competitors for The Last Desert left Ushuaia to sail across the Drake Passage to Antarctica and now the start of The Last Desert 2016 is a reality!

Today the main activity was to vacuum all item of clothing and equipment that will go onto land to get rid of any hidden seeds or other items that could cause contamination. 


Karen Meades of Canada described her higlights of the voyage: "we spotted a blue whale. Yup a blue whale – largest mammal ever, including those massive dinosaurs that used to roam the earth. Massive animal.  We also saw penguins jumping in and out of the water and birds fly around the outside of the ship constantly."

Cynthia Fish "the DRAKE lake has been fun. Very calm!  I saw a whale!!"

Lene Larsen "We have had a lot of fun on the ship, there are so many awesome people. The boat is like a floating hotel."

Thanh Vu "I have slept for more than 30 hours on the ship".  She has simplified her schedule down to "eat, sleep and repeat".   Thanh has not been feeling so well but did manage to "hang out in the deck for a few hours. I even managed to climb up to the bow for an re-enactment of Titanic with other runners."

Jax Mariash "The food is great and the beds are really comfortable. We are even spoiled with hot showers. I am continuing to do my core, glute work with a TRX that I brought and rolling to stay fresh."

Andrea Girardi has been trying to get some distance in on the ship "The Plancius is '69 meters long and has 7 bridges.  The best bridge for runnng is on Deck 4, which has a perimeter of about 120m. Running is still almost impossible because the long waves of the sea often makes you run into corners, edges, metal doors, sheets, pipes,"  He has already experienced some of the Antarctic weather patterns "The weather changes very quickly, start running with the sun and end up with wind and horizontal rain."  He aslo now has  an understanding of what explorers, navigators and astronauts experience "I touch only a small part of living in a confined space and already 'it seems to me an intolerable burden."

Filippo Rossi at the first sign of land announced "Earth, earth, earth at last".  He too gives a tribute to sea men around the world "we have only had two days at sea and in great comfort and it has been hard.  Imagine yourself sailing for months and months."



David Souza "Many competitors are chomping at the bit now that we have been at sea for two days. My bags are now packed and ready go.  We are hoping to get in 100k tomorrow.  Weather will dictate the running. "

Jax Mariash "We all cannot wait to begin running as so many of us are at the last phase of a year long journey in the Grand Slam or Grand Slam Plus. Others also will join the 4 Deserts Club"

Lene Larsen "I am super excited to get started to run, and see what the weather conditions will be like."


More PHOTOS from life on the ship have been posted: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

New BLOGS (13) have also been added: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

Pre-Race: Breaking News 9

Sun, 20 November 2016 at 10:45

Remember all times posted for Breaking News are in the local time in Argentina / Antarctica.

The seas were calm again last night - these conditions are called the Drake Lake (opposed to the Drake Shake).

This morning everyone was allocated special boots for using on the zodiac boats that will take competitors and staff from the expedition ship to the landing point on shore.  Sometimes they may be "wet" landings and therefore rubber boots are worn to prevent getting their feet wet before the start of the race. An impromptu gear check for parkas, glacier glasses and snow goggles was done by the expedition crew - on top of the one done by 4 Deserts management.  This double check is to be absolutely sure that everyone is protected well from the cold, the snow and also from the glaring sun which can cause some snow blindness (as well as severe sun burn).  Another detailed check of each competitors food to make sure it meets IAATO guidelines. 

The biggest excitement of the trip so far was the first sighting of a blue whale.  This was followed by a lecture on blue whales and their activity in Antarctica.  The first icebergs are expected to be seen later today. 

The expedition crew on the ship is a super impressive group of field experts - some have climbed Mount Everest and walked to the South and North poles as well as a kayak expert, two expert mountain guides, a resident artist. 

Given the good weather everyone has been feeling good - no serious cases of sea sickness.  As a result people are struggling to relax and they have been running around the ship deck for exercise and doing pushups on the handrails on the outer deck.

The plan is still on track to start Stage 1 of The Last Desert 2016 very early in the morning of Monday, 21 November on King George Island and to be out for 12 hours.  However bad weather is expected so watch this space for more updates on whether they are able to start. 

Many competitors are fulfilling a dream to visit Antarctica and can't get over all the luxuries on the ship.

There is nervous anticipation of the cold and the Long Stage planned.  However mainly it is excitement to land on Antarctica!!


PHOTOS - new photos of life on the ship and whale watching have been posted: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

COURSE - view the course map to see where King George Island in Antarcitca: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/course

Remember you can send messages to comeptitors to read in the Cyber"Lounge" on the ship: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results (click "send a message" next to the name of the person you want to message)

Pre-Race: Breaking News 8

Sat, 19 November 2016 at 23:00

It is now 11pm on Saturday, 19 November on the MV Plancius which is right in the middle of the Drake Passage.  They have been on ship for about 30 hours so far and they have already have had their first whale sighting.  These are announced over the ship's internal announcment system by the Captain or expedition leader.  The Drake Passage seems to have been quite kind to them - not completely smooth but most people have managed three meals.

Entertainment during the long journey to Antarctica comes in the form of cathing up with old and new 4 Deserts friends; listening to the various lectures from the ship crew about Antarctica, it's history and the flora and fauna that can be found; resting before the tough race starts; and eating - three meals a day are provided (very different to most 4 Deserts races) plus endless tea, coffee, biscuits and soup in the lounge. 

The plan is still to start Stage 1 of The Last Desert 2016 on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands on Monday, 21 Nov for a long stage of 10-15 hours with the expectation for the leaders to get 100kms / 60 miles completed. 

BLOGS - new blogs have been posted for Colin Nanka (describing in detail the lectures) and Lourens Roets (about the icebergs, whale sightings and boarding the ship): http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

SEND MESSAGES - to send messages of support to those competing in The Last Desert, go to the results page (http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results), find the person  you want to send the message to and click "send an email" .  They are receiving some of these

LOCATIONS & COURSE - have a look at some of the places that are planned for Stages on the course page and also read the itinerary to understand more the schedule and more about each location.

Course: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/course

Itinerary: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/itinerary

Pre-Race: Breaking News 7

Fri, 18 November 2016 at 23:00

Remember, all time is quoted in Argentina / Antarctica local time.

After a life boat drill and a detailed ship safety briefing, sea sick patches were put on and The Last Desert expedition ship set sail into the Beagle Channel.  Equipment checks took place in each person's cabin before everyone joined for a toast and dinner in the ship's restaruant.

The ship will be entering the Drake Passage in a couple of hours.  This is one of the world's most renown crossings which can produce huge swell and an uncomforable ride. 

PHOTOS from the pre-race activites are up on the website. http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

More news will come as they come out of the Drak Passage and enter Antarctic waters.  That is expected to be in the evening (Argentina / Antarctica time) of Sunday, 20 November.

Pre-Race: Breaking News 6

Sat, 19 November 2016 at 15:15

The official competitor briefing of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 has just concluded at the Hotel Cap Polonio in the host town of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. All 61 competitors, plus staff and media crews were super excited to finally meet each others, and hear the details of the race. Mary Gadams welcomed everyone in Ushuaia, and the management  team, Riitta Hanninen, Zeana Haroun and Medical Director Robert Ripley covered the schedule, rules, safety, and medical topics for the next 12 days of the journey to Antarctica.

Special welcome went to the group of 19 Grand Slam and Grand Slam Plus competitors, the youngest competitor Brendan Funk, oldest competitor Rodney Rutherford, Christopher Lewis who will enter the 4 Deserts Club after 13 years since his first 4 Deserts race (the inaugural Gobi March) in 2003. 

Steven Garlick of the UK has been planning for The Last Desert since 2007, when he found out about this race in Antarctica. He then entered his first  race, the Gobi March in China and is excited to finally close the circle: "I'm really looking forward to seeing penguins". 

Brendan Funk, the youngest competitor of the race, brought some comedies hoping that they will entertain him and the group of other Grand Slam competitors through the rough Drake Passage. Most competitors are a little nervous about it as it is known to be the world's roughest crossing. 

Edna Vasquez Nunez, all smiles as always, mentioned how grateful she is for the friendships that she has made over the years in the 4 Deserts races, and how she's looking forward to share the ultimate challenge in Antarctica with fellow competitors. 

Everyone is now taking a little break before walking down to the pier at 15:45 to board the M/V Plancius from 16-17:00. The ship will set the sail at 18:00 through the beautiful Beagle Channel before reaching the Drake Passage at around midnight. The 1000-kilometer journey will take about 2.5 days. Photos, breaking news and features will be available on the website soon.  



Pre-Race: Breaking News 5

Fri, 18 November 2016 at 01:00

Half-past midnight in Ushuaia, Argentina / Antarctica.

MV Plancius, the expedition ship that will be the "home" and base camp for The Last Desert (Antarctica), has arrived in Ushuaia Port!  (spotted here by Daniel Almanza from Mexico).  This makes it very real!  Today (in 15 hours) The Last Desert competitors set sail for Antarctica!

Competitors have had their last supper and are spending their last night on dry land before they set sail for Antarctica tomorrow.  "it's not often that you say 'tomorrow I am going to Antarctica'" said Allen Kerton from the United Kingdom.

We have now seen nearly all competitors in Ushuaia set for this amazing race. The oldest competitor, Rodney Rutherford from Australia, watched the expedition ship arrive into the port from the window in his loft apartment in Ushuaia.  Grand Slammers Franco Zomer from Italy (look for the orange wig) and Frank Racktaschel from Germany had a quiet last evening.  Team Sakura from Japan are ready to take on The Last Desert after not being able to compete as a team at the Sahara Race (Namibia) - the members are Keigo Miyazaki (going for the Grand Slam PLUS), Hirotomo Yoshizawa and Takao Kitada.  Their rival team in the race is the five-person Team Xiamen University from China (Liang, Zhu, Chen, Wang, Yu and Zhan).  David Souza from the United States and Markus Zeigler from Switzerland were out for a walk with Avi Blaiberg, Allen Kerton and Thanh Vu.  Filippo Rossi has arrived back in Ushuaia after an excursion to Chile.  A new talent of Kathia Rached from Lebanon was discovered.  She used to be singer and is amazingly good. 

The weather in Ushuaia has cleared up - it's not so cold and the rain has stopped but snow is falling every now and then.

The Last Desert website (www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert) has been updated:

PRE-RACE PHOTOS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

BLOGS have new and updated posts: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE EXPEDTION SHIP: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/ship

FOLLOW THE RACE through the LIVE summary page: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Pre-Race: Breaking News 4

Thu, 17 November 2016 at 07:30

Argentina / Antarctica time.

Today is the last update about people arriving from all over the world into Ushuaia.  Tomorrow all competitors will board the expedition ship at 4pm local time and start the long journey to Antarctica through the Beagle Channel and across the Drake Passage. 

Today, Thursday, is the last free day for comeptitors. Tomorrow they will have a pre-boarding meeting in Ushuaia at 12 noon and then all enter the port together and board the expedition ship in the early afternoon.  They will see their cabins and go through a series of safety briefings on the ship - including an lifeboat drill where they will get into the lifeboats. 

Soooo, the new arrivals into Ushuaia since yesterday include Kathia Rached from Lebanon - one of the ladies favourites for a podium place.  Jay Wong from Hong Kong.  Daniel Almanza from Mexico who met up by chance on en route with Edna Vazquez also from Mexico (but living in Chicago).  Colin Nanka from Canada, Ludy Dvorak - our first person in the Czech Republic set to join the 4 Deserts Club (and is doing so through the 4 Deserts Grand Slam).  Jax Mariash - the women's favourite from the United States / Canada.   Avi Blaiberg from Israel who was out for a run in the cold and wet with Allen Kerton to shake out the long flights (see photo below).  Danish competitor Lene Larsen also arrived from Hong Kong.   Karen Wei has been in Patagonia doing a pre-race trek (??!!) but has now arrived safely in Ushuaia.  Tommy Chen from Taiwan was again out running with Andrea Girardi from Italy and picked up some small injuries - let's hope that does not change things for him for the race.

Amanda De Kock from South Africa and Kyle McCoy from the United States started their long journey.  Still no sightings of Cynthia Fish, Kitada Takao, Christopher Lewis, Karen Meades, the Chinese contingent a few others.

Sadly it is currently rather wet and cold in Ushuaia, but it is a lovely town - this is what it looks like in the sunshine.   The weather in Antarctica is so variable that a forecast now for a few days time means nothing.  However there are reports of a lot of ice which will prevent the ship entering certain locations - thankfully there are plenty of options. 

Pre-Race: Breaking News 3

Wed, 16 November 2016 at 07:00

The time posted is the time Argentina / Antarctica.

There are still two days to go until The Last Desert competitors board the expedition ship to head to Antarctica.  However Ushuaia is alive with competitors for the race from around the globe - among the 61 competitors, 24 countries are being represented.  China, the United States and Canada are the most represented.

New arrivals in Ushuaia include Andrea Giradi from Italy who has been out running in the national parks of Patagonia with our photographer Myke.  Ali Chaudhry has also made it there from Malaysia and Allen Kerton from Singapore. Tommy Chen from Taiwan is continuing to explore Ushuaia (see below).

Still en route but getting closer include Daniel Almanza coming from Mexico, Edna Vazquez from Chicago, David Souza from near Boston, Wing Fu Chan coming from Hong Kong and the Taiwanese model Yuli Lin.   Thanh Vu from Vietnam is also en route - she has celebrated her 26th birthday three times as she has been crossing time zones.

There have been some nice stories already - Jax Mariash is supporting the LymeLight Foundation through her 4 Deserts Grand Slam PLUS journey.  When she checked in for her flight the attendent has Lymes disease and was overwhelmed by the co-incidence and what Jax is doing for those who are affected by the disease.

READ THE BIO of each competitor to find out more about them and how they started their 4 Desrets journey - not just to Ushuaia but from their very first 4 Deserts race. http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/competitors

BLOGS are are also starting to be added.  The most recent by Lourens Roets from South Africa: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/view-full-blogs.php?pid=Mjk5Nw==&blog=136

Remember that you can FOLLOW THE RACE LIVE through this web page: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Pre-Race: Breaking News 2

Mon, 14 November 2016 at 05:00

It is currently 05:00 in the morning on 14 November in Ushuaia, Argentina.  This is the first breaking news for The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 - these will continue from now until 29 November when the race has concluded and the expedition ship has returned to Ushuaia.

Competitors are departing from all around the globe to head to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego (referred to as the "end of the world" due to it's location in the most southerly point in South America).  The favourite Tommy Chen has been in Patagonia for more than one month training for the race.  Filippo Rossi and Brendan Funk are already acclimitising in Ushuaia.   Victor Cheng and also Allen Kerton are currently in Buenos Aires en route.  While Jean-Francois Begin will leave tomorrow and Katia Rached is still in Lebanon having just completed the Beirut Marathon (in 3 hours 31 minutes!).

The 4 Deserts management team are also en route to Ushuaia.  They will arrive in the afternoon of on Tuesday, 15 November. 

Competitors have their first official meeting on Friday, 18 November - after which they will board the expedition ship and start the journey to The Last Desert in Antarctica.

The Last Desert Pre-Race PRESS RELEASE tells more about how "History will be made at the world only multi-stage race in Antarctica"


Pre-Race: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Pre-Race Breaking News for The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will start to be posted the week starting on Friday, 11 November 2016.


Stage 1: Breaking News 5

Tue, 22 November 2016 at 00:45

The full Stage 1 results are now on the website.   The furthest distance completed was 91.4km by Kyle McCoy.   Jax Mariash is the first woman in 5th place overall.  And an impressive joint 6th place for Avi Blaiberg from Israel, Steven Garlick living in NC, the United States and Kathia Rached from Lebanon who are all living in hot climates with minimal experience in the cold and snow.

Below are the Top 20. 

The full results can be seen at http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

NOTE - The Last Desert (Antarctica) works differnetly to other 4 Deserts Races.  The scoring is based on time rather than distance.  At each location everyone runs for the same amount of time - the person who can run the furthest distance in that time is the winner of the stage.

Penguins and leopard seals were seen today and sunshine and minimal wind was enjoyed for most of the stage.

Read Lourens Roets BLOG after Stage 1 - which gives a good summary. http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/view-full-blogs.php?pid=Mjk5Nw==&blog=136#inner_tab_pages

PHOTOS are being uploaded, they will be available soon.


Competitors are now sleeping as the expedition ship sails another 8 hours through Antarctic waters to Telefon Bay on Deception Island.  Another long day of running of 7+ hours is planned for tomorrow.  

Stage 2 is planned to start by 09:00 on Tuesday, 22 Nov (local time in Antarctica - the same as Ushuaia, Argentina).

Stage 1: Breaking News 4

Mon, 21 November 2016 at 20:30

Stage 1 concluded at 19:30 - after exactly 12 hours.  Everyone is now safely back on the expedition ship to warm up in hot showers and a full dinner.

Kyle McCoy won the stageFilippo Rossi, Jax Mariash and Andrea Girardi were also in the top positions.  Everyone completed the Stage. 

Lourens Roets started running but then decided to walk for a bit after the second circuit to take it all in.

Thanh Vu was surprised at the difficulty "this is harder than I thought [referring to the soft snow]"

Allen Kerton said "this is really tough.  I have Goretex shoes and Seal Skinz sock but still somehow my feet are wet"

Full results, photos and stage update to follow in the next couple of hours.

Stage 1: Breaking News 3

Mon, 21 November 2016 at 09:10

The first circuit of Stage 1 has been completed in 1 hour 10 minutes at 08:40 local time in Antarcitca (same time as Ushuaia, Argentina). 

1. Kyle McCoy from United States

2. Jax Mariash from the United States (1st female!) - just a few minutes behind

FIlippo Rossi from Switzerland, Tommy Chen from Taiwan and Andrea Girardi from Italy were all with 15 mintes of the leader Kyle.

The Stage 1 circuit is 14kms.  One the circuit competitors will pass by the Russia, Uruguay, Chile and China research stations.  Conditions are mainly soft snow, but not too deep.  It is quite wet / slushy in a few places. 

Everyone was super excited to step foot on Antarctica and get started. 

There is still a long way to go!

Stage 1: Breaking News 2

Mon, 21 November 2016 at 08:00


Competitors were woken early this morning to start heading to shore in Zodiac boats from 7am and the stage got underway before 8am (local time in Ushuaia, Argentina / Antarctica)

The Stage is on King George Island and competitors are prepared to be on shore for up to 13 hours which would mean the leaders could reach up to 100kms.  King George Island is the place they will run where people inhabit it - there are a number of research bases here.

The weather is nice at about 1C and there is almost no wind - perfect conditions for running.  However the weather is expected to detoriate  throughout the day and weather can change fast in Antarctica.

More information on the course, photos and the positions will be sent by breaking news over the next 13 hours.

Stage 1: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 1 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Mon, 21 November 2016.

Stage 2: Breaking News 3

Tue, 22 November 2016 at 23:30

Stage 2 Results are On Line: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

Top 10 overall after two stages are below.  The Top 3 women are in the Top 10 overall!!!

  1. Jax Mariash – United States - 6th place overall
  2. Kathia Rached - Lebanon - 7th place overall
  3. Amanda de Kock – South Africa - 8th place overall


Stage 2 was on Deception Island.  This is a volcanic island that erupted thousands of years ago leaving a small ring of land with a big body of water in the middle.  You enter the centre of the horse shoe shaped island by a narrow passage taking you into the caldera of the ancient volcano where the ship anchored.  The Stage was at Telefon Bay which was where fishermen had a base from where they hunted Whales and brought then back to be processed - the remains of the huts and tanks for the blubber used by Whalers still remain.

The course was a short 3km circuit (!) which started along the black sand beach (which does not have snow on it due to the thermal activity heating the water and shore).   Then up a steep climb in the snow for about a km, along the edge of a crater and then back down on snow and sand / mud.

For Stage 2 Kyle McCoy and Tommy Chen finished equal with a top distance of 57kms each.  For joint 10th place on Stage 2 Kathia Rached from Lebanon, Jareb Steines from the United States, Daniel Almanza from Mexico and Andrew Reynolds from South Africa finished together. 

Dong Jun and Liu Hongzhou from China brought the rear in Stage 2 completing 21kms – they had stronger runs on Stage 1 but were tired today.  Cynthia Fish and Karen Meades both from Canada are the overall “turtles” but just in front of the Chinese at the end of Stage 2 completing 24kms – they are enjoying seeing the leaders go by a few times each Stage. Cynthia commented ““The most surprising part of being able to see the leaders (after 4 races just watching them vanish into the distance after a couple of minutes) throughout the race… and guess what, they actually walk! Just like us! I don’t know why, but I simply presumed that they were super people that never walked, just ran and ran and ran.”

Having had some nice sun out there for the first two Stages there are some red faces already - the sun is so much stronger in Antarctica.  In particular it is important that competitors wear their glacier glasses to protect their eyes and  prevent snow blindness from the sun which is even stronger when it relfects off the bright white snow.

Lourens Roets "This place is truly out of this world with simply amazing landscapes, cool creatures and sub-zero temperatures not normal for someone who grew up in sunny South Africa. We have seen quite a variety of animals so far - big blue whale, quite a few humpback whales and a minkie; also a number of leopard seals, penguins and weird sea birds - exactly like those in Happy Feet."

Andrea Girardi from Italy, along with many other compeitors is tired - it's been two long days with minimal recovery time in between.  “However Kyle McCoy and Tommy Chen don't seem to be feeling the strain.”  Andrea Girardi, Jax Mariash and Filippo Rossi from Switzerland were running close together for the stage finsihing in joint 5th place – the same distance completed by Amanda de Kock from South Africa and Franco Zomer, from Italy.

Lene Larsen from Denmark “running a marathon distance on 3 km loop would normally be boring, but not here, because there where very breath taking views and the penguins where super curious and where standing along the course looking at us. They are so super cute!!!.  Lene finished Stage 2 in joint 15th together with Frank Rocktaeschel from Germany, Steven Garlick from the UK and Jean-Francois Begin from Canada.

Edna Vazquez from Mexico "this incredible amazing and crazy race… !”  Edna finished joint 18th today with 39kms with eight others including Ali Chaudhry from the UK, Lee Ho Yeon from Korea and Brendan Funk - the youngest competitor - from the United States.  This puts Edna her joint 23rd position overall with

David Souza ‘The best part of the course was running by the shore each time.  Penguins were standing there watching.  So cool!”.  David was super happy with his ability to run and an amazing Stage 2 finishing in 4th postion!

Allen Kerton “The two islands that we have run on so far have been spectacular….really icy and rugged.  It’s been great to see Whales, Seals, Albatross and of course the stars of the show….. the Penguins…….unbelievably cute and funny!!”



RESULTS - http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

PHOTOS - more than 100 photos from Stage 1 and some from Stage 2 are on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

BLOGS - 10 blogs have been uploaded after Stage 1 & 2: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs  Posts included from Andrew Reynolds, Filippo Rossi, Cynthia Fish, Jax Mariash and more.

STAGE UPDATE - will be added soon.

Be sure to send them messages of support and comment on their blogs - these comments will keep them going through these long days out running in Antarctica!



With all competitors and staff on board, the expedition ship is now sailing overnight for 14 hours to Paradise Bay on Antarctic main land – so far they have been on islands in the Antarctic Peninsular.    

The plan for Stage 3 is a 09:30 start on Weds, 23 November to have another long day to run until 19:00 – that nine and half hours of running. 

Stage 2: Breaking News 2

Tue, 22 November 2016 at 19:15

Stage 2 started at 08:30 on Tues, 22 November (Antarctica time) on Telefon Bay on Deception Island.

At 13:00 the positions were:

1. Kyle McCOY - United States

2. Tommy CHEN - Taiwan

3. Frode LEIN - Norway

For the women Jax MARIASH from the United States was in 1st place followed by Amanda DE KOCK from South Africa in 2nd place.

It was colder on Deception Island than on King George but they hadn't had any snow falling.

David Souza was happy - he was able to run despite an old injury that kept him walking in the Atacama Crossing. 

The Stage was due to finish at 16:00 (3 hours ago).

Updates on the final standings after Stage 2 as well as photos, blogs and more as soon as we have them.

Stage 2: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 2 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Tue, 22 November 2016.

Stage 3: Breaking News 4

Thu, 24 November 2016 at 22:00

It is now Thursday, 25 Nov in the evening.  Happy Thanks Giving everyone.

Stage 3 was completed yesterday.  Results have not been received yet, but photos are on the website.

They moved to Dorian Bay for Stage 4 which was limited to 3 hours of running a 4km circuit in deep snow up to their knees.

More information on results from Stage 3 & 4 as well as Stage 4 photos as soon as we have them.

See PHOTOS FROM STAGE 3: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

Stage 3: Breaking News 3

Wed, 23 November 2016 at 23:15

Stage 3 is complete - it has been finished for some hours.  It was another long day out on the snow and ice.  The course was a steep uphill with about half a meter of snow, then across the top and down a steep zig zag.  The views were breathtaking and penguins came out in abundance to cheer them on.

To get to Paradise Bay comeptitors were taken by Zodiac between floating icebergs.  Paradise Bay is on the mainlaid of Antarctica(!) - not an outlying island.

More on the results and photos soon.

Stage 3: Breaking News 2

Wed, 23 November 2016 at 08:00

The expedition ship arrived at Paradise Bay on the Antarctic mainland during the night and anchored close to the location for Stage 3 early this morning.  It is snowing here and the temperature is below freezing.

The plan is to start Stage 3 at 09:00 local time (in one hour) and have a another long day - possible another 10 hours.

The map below is a reminder of where Paradise Bay is located in relation to Antarctica and where they have come from - Deception Island.

The leader, Kyle McCoy has already completed 148.2km with Tommy Chen right behind him on 144.2kms.

Some words from Kyle to given an idea of how he is feeling "Antarctica gives you nothing easy. . . this place makes you earn every step.  It’s a beautifully brutal place. Stage 1 was a 57 mile runner’s high - I don’t think I’ve ever had such a fun day running.  But more than anything I fear Tommy “The Taiwanese Tiger” Chen (my nickname for him)."  Kyle is a veteran of the US Army - with four deployments to Afghanistan - when things are tough "I think about what an old crusty Army Ranger instructor used to say: 'Embrace the suck'".

More information on Stage 3 will follow.


Remember you can look at the more information on the webiste - all are updated since after Stage 2 was completed:

RESULTS: http://www.4deserts.com//thelastdesert/results

PHOTOS: http://www.4deserts.com//thelastdesert/photos

BLOGS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

Stage 3: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 3 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Wed, 23 November 2016.

Stage 4: Breaking News 2

Thu, 24 November 2016 at 22:45

Stage 4 has been completed.  The 4km circuit in deep snow at Dorian Bay was cut short after only three hours due to high winds.  The top runners completed 16kms here before everyone went back to the expedition ship.  

All 61 competitors are still in the race and doing well although a bit tired.

Results after Stage 4 have been uploaded: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

Currently the Overall Positions are:

1. Kyle McCoy - USA - 239kms

2. Tommy Chen - Taiwan - 235kms

3. Filippo Rossi - Switzerland - 224kms

4. Frode Lein - Norway - 216kms

5. Andrea Girardi - Italy - 213kms

Jax Mariash is the leading lady in 6th position overall with 209kms.  Followed by Kathia Rached from Lebanon and then Amanda de Kock from South Africa in 3rd and Lene Larsen from Denmark in 4th.

In the middle of the pack some results:

David Souza - 11th place - 184kms

Lourens Roets - 35th place - 145kms

Karen Wei - 25th place - 153kms


STAGE 5 is planned to take place on Danko Island starting at 07:30 on Friday, 25 Nov (local time in Antarcitca / Ushuaia, Antarctica).  Four and half hours of running is set for this location. 


New information on the website right now is:

RESULTS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

PHOTOS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

Stage 4: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 4 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Thu, 24 November 2016.

Stage 5: Breaking News 4

Fri, 25 November 2016 at 18:06

Stage 5 of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 has concluded with four competitors reaching 250 kilometres! The first competitor to reach the goal was Kyle McCoy from the USA, followed by Tommy Chen of Taiwan, Filippo Rossi of Switzerland and Frode Lein of Norway.   Each competitor celebrated in their own way by falling to the snowy ground in elation and exhaustion, with tears and screams of joy or with a simple fist pump acknowledging the feat.  The snowy 3.1 kilometre loop was set on Danco Island, a small, beautiful island surrounded by stunning mountains, glaciers and of course populated with hundreds and hundreds of penguins.  The penguins were quite curious and Markus Ziegler of Switzerland said "I had to actually stop and give way to a penguin crossing the course, this was the first time that has happened in my life!" Competitors appreciated the stark beauty of this stage, and accepted the challenge of a steep zig zag uphill to the top of the island, where they then did a small loop around the top to appreciate the 360 degree views, before descending and winding their way down to the finish line. Amanda De Kock from South Africa said “ I have never seen Orcas in my life, I have never seen snow in my life! I can now go home happy.” Ali Chaudhry resident in Malaysia said “Today was the most stunning and beautiful day” All around, today was a favorite among competitors – the views, the conditions and the knowledge that this is a once in a lifetime experience.

When asked how he felt after finishing 250 kilometres in Antarctica, Frode Lein said "Sunburnt", he then went on to say that today was his favourite stage with all aspects of the race coming together, the scenery was beautiful, the snow was perfect and the weather was good for running.  He is looking forward to his victory lap tomorrow on Half-moon Island and cheering on his fellow competitors as they reach their 250 kilometre goal.  For now, competitors are enjoying sailing to Half-Moon Island and resting their tired legs before starting the final stage of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016.

Stage 5: Breaking News 3

Fri, 25 November 2016 at 17:15

Huge news.  Stage 5 is complete and the Top 4 competitors reached the 250km! 

1st Kyle McCoy - United States

2nd Tommy Chen - Taiwan

3rd Filippo Rossi - Switzerland

4th Frode Lein - Norway

Jax Mariash is only about 4km short of 250km which will give her 1st place for the women - she should make the 250km on the final stage.  

It was a beautiful course on Danko Island

The ship is currently headed north to Half-Moon Island for Stage 6.  All competitors are safe and well and sill in the race!

Photos, results and blogs to follow.

Stage 5: Breaking News 2

Fri, 25 November 2016 at 06:45

In 45 miutes, at 07:30 (Antarctica / Ushuaia, Argentina time), Stage 5 will get underway on Danko Island. 

This is very exciting!   The Last Desert race is celebrating it's 7th edition in 2016 - ten years after the first one in 2006.  There have not been many editions that we have managed five Stages - the weather has always dictated otherwise. 

The plan is to run until 14:00 - that's six and half hours of running.   It's snowing now as competitors prepare to head to shore for the next stage.  Having had half a day to rest yesterday after Stage 4 was cut short people are looking forward to getting back to it.

Kyle McCoy, is still in the lead only needs 11kms and he has reached the 250km goal!.  When asked how he felt about the shortened day.  He responded, “well, now I’ll get to run another area of Antarctica”.  Great attitude!

Below are some quotes from competitors on their afternoon resting on the ship in beautiful Antarctic waters full of icebergs, Orca Whales, seals and penguins.

Allen Kerton " As usual, the views from the course were amazing." - referring to Stage 4

Karen Meades "more orcas.  I can say that so nonchalantly now, orcas seem to be everywhere. They are jumping up and out of the water, breathtaking! This place feels surreal, the pictures I have seen on national geographic do not do it justice.

Lene Larsen "The rule is that we have to stay at least 10 m away from the penguins, but it doesn’t seems like the penguins have heard about that rule… at one time I nearly got trapped, because a penguin came walking up the hill towards me, and from the other side a penguin came sliding down."

Cynthia Fish "I had gotten in the first zodiac of the morning, because it’s quite an effort to get undressed and dressed on the shore and I wanted to enjoy the moment. Yesterday I had just landed and heard Mary call out 6 minutes to the start… rushed does not describe it. And then I wanted to be on the last zodiac, in case I could see some curious penguins. I got on the second to last zodiac and was rewarded with a couple of penguins jumping onto the shore. They looked as ungainly as I felt when I heard the 6 minute warning and I had only one running shoe on…"

Thanh Vu "Many racers were very kind on the course, giving me encouragement and one even gave me a warm hat as he thought I was crying from the cold.  Little acts of kindness, internal struggles and overcomings like that make the challenging time out there much more meaningful to me."

PHOTOS from Stage 3 & 4 are on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

BLOGS written from Stage 3 and 4 are on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

RESULTS up to Stage 4 can be seen on the website: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

BREAKING NEWS gives you updates as they happen: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

Stage 5: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 5 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Fri, 25 November 2016.

Stage 6: Breaking News 5

Tue, 29 November 2016 at 09:30

The expedition ship has just arrived back to Ushuaia at 09:00 (Ushuaia time) on Tuesday, 29 November.

The awards banquet took place last night - even though they were out of the Drake Pasage the seas were still quite rough.  However that didn't dampen the celebrations. 

The Top 3 men and women were presented with their awards.

1. Kyle McCOY - USA

2. Tommy CHEN - TWN

3. Filippo ROSSI - CHE



2. Amanda DE KOCK - ZAR

3. Kathia RACHED - LBN

The 4 Deserts World Champions of 2016 were also announced and presented.  This is the man and woman who has completed The Last Desert having completed the Sahara Race, Atacama Crossing and the Gobi March and has the lowest cumulative ranking from each one.

4 Deserts World Champion 2016 is TOMMY CHEN from Taiwan

4 Deserts World Champion 2016 for the women is JAX MARIASH from the United States.

Sportsmanship and Spirit Awards were also announced and presented:  Sportsmanship went to LI Wei from China.  The Spirit Award went to Jean-Francois Begin from Canada.

All those who have completed all 4 Deserts Races were presented their 4 Deserts Club medal.  The fourteen people who have completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam and the five who have completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus were presented with an additional special trophy.  The five who completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus will join just three people who have ever completed this before.  No woman has ever completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam PLUS before now.

Everyone is in good spirits - all are in agreement that it was an amazing experience despite being very tough.  They will all now spread out back around the globe to the 24 different countries they came from.

RESULTS, PHOTOS, BLOGS and more are on the website and will remain there many months.  A video from the race will be released soon.  www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Stage 6: Breaking News 4

Sat, 26 November 2016 at 22:00

The website has been updated with results and photos from Stage 6.  Note that there may still be some slight changes to the results - these will become final final tomorrow, 27 November.

RESULTS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

PHOTOS: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

BLOG POSTS from before Stage 6: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

We will send another update if more blogs are posted and then after the Awards Banquet on Mon, 28 Nov in the evening (local time).

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 has brought many first including the first time for the countries of Israel, Austria and Czech Republic and Vietnam to represented here.  Thanh Vu is representing Vietnam - she has been thanked by her sponsor for putting Vietnam on the map.

Stage 6: Breaking News 3

Sat, 26 November 2016 at 15:25

Six stages, several polar plunges and a wedding! The final stage of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 has concluded with all 61 competitors successfully finishing the race. Among these competitors, Kyle McCoy, Tommy Chen, Filipino Rossi, Frode Lein, Jax Mariash, Andrea Girardi, Jareb Steines and Steve Garlick each completed the full 250 kilometers in Antarctica.

The final stage of the race took place on Half Moon Island with a 2.4-kilometer loop along both sides of the shore, among the snow, the penguins and the black shore sand. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and glaciers competitors ran for approximately 2 ½ hours as they completed the race. As competitors ran through the finish line and received their Last Desert Medal, there were tears, smiles, fist pumps and a range of emotions after having completed the challenging race. Many competitors has said this was the most difficult, yet most rewarding of all their race challenges.

Edna Vasquez crossed the finish line carrying the US and Mexican flags, thrilled to have met the challenge head on.

Jareb Steines who finished the full 250 kilometers said : “This has been the most amazing experience and I never expected Antarctica to be this beautiful.”

As Karen Wei crossed the finish line she said: “I expected perfect snow, a straightforward, flat race, where I would have time to make snow angels – this has been nothing but ordinary and I appreciate it.”

The weather conditions for Stage 6 were practically perfect – the sun was shining, the wind was low and the temperature was approximate 2 Celcius degrees. The terrain was challenging for competitors and was described by Jean Francois Begin “This stuff is harder than the crunchy broccoli fields in the Atacama Salt Flats!”.

Competitors and staff were fortunate enough to be greeted by countless penguins and even an elephant seal which came by shore to say hello.

To wrap up the final stage, Karen Meades and Nick Hasbani were married on Half-Moon Island in a beautiful ceremony in the snow officiated by the ship captain with all competitors and staff looking on. The bride was beautiful in a stunning black lace dress and the groom was handsome in a black suit and tie – they put aside the Muck Boots for some proper footwear, even in the snow. Their path to true begins on an island in Antarctica.

While the couple chose to pass on the Polar Plunge in the freezing water, about 20 competitors and staff decided to take the polar plunge, among those were Wing-Fu Chan from Hong Kong, Jun Dong from China, Javier the Course Director and Myke the photographer.

The sail back through the Drake Passage has started and a group of competitors are being entertained as Brendan Funk, who has not cut his hair for the entire year he has been working towards the Grand Slam, has now arranged a communal hair cut by Filippo Rossi and many other fellow competitors to chop it all off, each shafing off a bit of it!

The passage through the Drake will last for two days and on Monday evening the Awards Banquet will take place with the official winners and 4 Deserts Champions will be announced.

See all the latest updates including photos, results and blogs:


Stage 6: Breaking News 2

Sat, 26 November 2016 at 11:00

Stage 6 is getting ready to get underway.  Only 2 hours for those who have not reached 250km to get as far as they can.  Then a victory lap for the four people who have already completed 250kms before everyone receives their medals on shore.

All competitors and staff will then be present at the wedding ceremony of fellow competitor Karen Meades and her fiance Nick Hasbani.

The website has been updated:

RESULTS up to Stage 5: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

PHOTOS from Stage 5: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/photos

BLOGS after Stage 5: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/blogs

After that everyone will relax for the two day journey back across the Drake Passage to Ushuaia.  When they arrive in calmer waters they have the Awards Banquet and Ceremony.  This is when the Top men, women and team will receive their awards as well as the Spirit and Sportsmanship Award and the 4 Deserts Champions of 2016 will be crowned.

Stage 6: Breaking News 1

Wed, 19 October 2016 at 00:00

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 starts on 18 November 2016.

Breaking News for Stage 6 of the The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2016 will be posted on Sat, 26 November 2016.