The Last Desert is a 250-kilometer multi-stage footrace on the Antarctic Peninsula.
A pre-race competitor briefing will take place on Day 1 in the town of Ushuaia. In the afternoon, participants will board the expedition ship, meet the expedition ship crew and go through a safety briefing. After settling into the ship’s cabins (twin sharing), we will sail through the famous Beagle Channel and scenic Mackinlay Pass
Named after the renowned explorer Sir Francis Drake, who sailed these waters in 1578, the Drake Passage also marks the Antarctic Convergence, a biological barrier where cold polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern waters. This creates a great upwelling of nutrients, which sustains the biodiversity of this region. As a result, the Drake Passage also marks the northern limit of many Antarctic seabirds. As we sail across the passage, expedition lecturers will be available to help in the identification of an amazing variety of seabirds, including Wandering Albatrosses, Grey Headed Albatrosses, Black-browed Albatrosses, Light- mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Cape Pigeons, Southern Fulmars, Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Blue Petrels and Antarctic Petrels which follow in our wake. A full program of lectures will be offered. In the past, we have been treated to many sightings of whales and other sealife. The first views of icebergs and snow-capped mountains will indicate that we have reached the South Shetland Islands, a group of twenty islands and islets first sighted in February 1819 by Captain William Smith of the Brig Williams.
We will land, weather permitting, on several locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula and Mainland and embark on what will be the final journey of the 4 Deserts for many competitors.
The Antarctic Peninsula's remarkable history will provide a type of excitement often only associated with the early explorers. You will have time to explore the amazing scenery, a pristine wilderness of snow, ice, mountains and waterways, and an incredibly wide variety of wildlife. Apart from penguins and seabirds you are very likely to see Weddell, Crabeater and Leopard seals as well as Minke, Killer (Orca) and Humpback whales at close range.
Locations where we may land include:
The South Shetland Islands are a haven for wildlife. Vast penguin rookeries, beaches ruled by Antarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals make every day spent in this amazing island group unforgettable.
Jougla Point forms the west side of the entrance to Alice Creek in Port Lockroy. It lies on the west side of Wiencke Island, in the Palmer Archipelago.
Deception Island is reached by sailing through the narrow passage into the flooded caldera of the horseshoe-shaped island. Seeing the hot springs of Pendulum Cove is truly amazing.
Petermann Island (if ice conditions permit) for a visit to the southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins and a stage of the race. Paradise Bay is perhaps the most aptly named place in the world. It is on the continent (or “Mainland”) and requires the ship to navigate the iceberg-strewn waters of the Antarctic Sound. Bustling Adélie Penguin (over 100,000 pairs breed here) and Blue-eyed Cormorant colonies on Paulet Island close-by. The Nordenskjöld expedition built a stone survival hut here in 1903. Today its ruins have been taken over by nesting penguins.
Other landing sites could include Melchior Island, Aitcho Island, Dorian Bay, Cuverville Island, Portal Point, Neko Harbour, Lamaire, Port Charcot, Booth, Pléneau Island, Hoovgard Island, Waddington Bay and others.
Depending on the ice conditions, we will also navigate some beautiful waterways like the Gerlache Strait, Neumayer Channel and Lemaire Channel. The latter channel involves narrow passages between towering rock faces and spectacular glaciers.
We will leave Antarctica, having completed The Last Desert 2018, and head north across the Drake Passage. You may join lecturers and naturalists on deck as they search for seabirds and whales and enjoy some final lectures indoors. You can take the chance to relax and reflect on the truly remarkable 4 Deserts expedition of the past week and the past year(s) on the way back to Ushuaia.
During the return trip, we will hold the traditional Awards Banquet on the expedition trip. Amongst awards presented at the banquet include unique trophies for the male and female 4 Deserts Champions for 2018, pewter plates to The Last Desert Champions and medals to new inductees into the 4 Deserts Club and 4 Deserts Grand Slam Club.
We will arrive in Ushuaia in the early morning and disembark the ship after breakfast.
Please Note: The above itinerary is a guide only. Our exact route and program will vary to take best advantage of local weather and ice conditions. Changes will be made by the Captain and/or the 4 Deserts to facilitate the best results from the prevailing conditions. A daily race briefing will be given on board. Flexibility is the key to success.
We highly advise you to purchase a flexible plane ticket and to arrive well in advance in case of any problems with your flights. Although not likely, the itinerary is subject to change and the 4 Deserts will not be held responsible for any fees incurred due to airline ticket changes, re-bookings, etc.
Antarctica is the largest desert in the world, and it is often referred to as the "White Desert." The Last Desert is the only multi-stage race on the Antarctic continent. It is held around the Antarctic Peninsula, with a remarkable history of early polar exploration and whaling. The scenery of icebergs, mountains, research bases and incredible wildlife are unparalleled anywhere else on the Antarctic continent.
The Last Desert explores the pristine scenery of snow, ice, mountains and waterways and wide variety of wildlife including penguins, birds, whales and seals.
Antarctica is its own continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
The Last Desert starts from Ushuaia, at the very southern tip of Argentina. Competitors board an expedition ship that serves as both a home and base camp for the duration of the race.
After a two-day voyage across the notorious Drake Passage, the first sightings of icebergs and snow-capped mountains indicate that competitors have reached Antarctica.
Weather permitting, The Last Desert takes place in up to six locations in and around the Antarctic Peninsula and Mainland. It is the only race of its kind on the White Continent.
Locations where stages may take place include:
Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. Despite holding 70% of the world’s fresh water (as ice) it has an annual precipitation of only 200 mm / 8 inches. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice which is an average of 2 kilometers / 1.3 miles thick. It is its own continent and is nearly twice the size of Australia.
Antarctica is considered is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent and has the highest average elevation of all the continents - temperatures have reached −89.2 °C / -128.6 °F.
The Last Desert takes place in November at the start of the Southern Hemisphere summer. This means that there is still significant snow and ice but the temperatures are manageable. You should expect temperatures down to -20C / -4F while running, but the temperatures can drop rapidly at this time of year. It can also be very windy. When the sun comes out it will be closer to 10C / 50F. The sun is very strong – you must be sure to take strong precautions against sunburn and snow blindness. There is also more than 20 hours of day light in Antarctica at this time of year.
One of the main features of weather in Antarctica is that it changes VERY fast.Everything during a visit to Antarctica is weather dependent. The weather can affect the locations where we have a stage, the start time of a stage, the finish time of a stage, the number of stages and the type of terrain.
Competitors may visit these ten locations during The Last Desert (Antarctica). All locations are weather permitting and descriptions are provided below.
Position at 62°23'29'S / 59°46'10'W
The Aitcho Islands ('Aitcho' standing for 'H.O.' i.e., 'Hydrographic Office') are a group of minor islands in the north entrance to the English Strait separating Greenwich Island and Robert Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, and are situated between Dee Island to the south and Table Island to the north. The islands were mapped in 1935 during the oceanographic investigations carried out by the Discovery Committee and named after the Hydrographic Office of the UK Admiralty.
Competitors in The Last Desert 2007 completed their first stage on Aitcho Island.
Position at 64°41'S / 062°38'W
Cuverville Island (or Île de Cavelier de Cuverville) is a dark, rocky island lying in Errera Channel between Arctowski Peninsula and the northern part of Rongé Island, off the west coast of Graham Land. Cuverville Island was discovered by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition (1897-1899) under Adrien de Gerlache, who named it for J.M.A. Cavelier de Cuverville (1834-1912), a vice admiral of the French Navy. In the summer, Cuverville is often home to a well-sized rookery of Gentoo Penguins.
Competitors in The Last Desert 2007 ran on the top of Cuverville Island, one of the most spectacular locations in all of Antarctica. Competitors in The Last Desert 2008 ran in the foothills of Cuverville Island during their first stage
Position at 62°58'37'S / 60°39'00'W
Deception Island is a near circular shape with a diameter of about 12 kilometers / 7 miles. Its highest point, Mt. Pond, has an elevation of 542 meters / 1,778 feet, and over half of the island is covered by glaciers.
Long ago, volcanic pressure on Deception Island resulted in a tremendous eruption that caused the island’s peak to explode. The resulting caldera flooded with seawater, creating the unique landmass that competitors may visit today. Thousands of Chinstrap Penguins inhabit the volcanic slopes of the island, along with nesting Pintado Petrels and Antarctic Terns.
Nestled among the South Shetland Islands, Deception Island is easily recognized on a map by its horseshoe shape. Its collapsed volcanic caldera is breached at Neptune's Bellows and makes for one of the world's safest natural harbors, despite the volcano's periodic eruptions. Ships enter the relatively calm waters of Port Forster (12 kilometers / 7.5 miles wide) through the caldera's breach that is surrounded by snow-covered hills that reach 580 meters / 1,900 feet. The island has an interesting history - it was a base for several early exploratory missions - and is still a disputed territory between the Argentineans and the British.
The volcano is still very active and its eruptions have caused evacuations and considerable damage to the stations there (during the 1920-21 whaling season the harbor water boiled and stripped the paint off the ships' hulls). The most recent eruption was in 1991-92.
Part of what brings ships to the island is that the volcanic activity thermally heats the waters of Pendulum Cove (so-called because of the British pendulum and magnetism experiments held there last century) and competitors can take a dip. It's not deep enough for swimming. You do have to be careful, however, because if you move even a meter from the warm water you might find your skin blistering from a near-boiling patch or goose-bumping from an unheated patch. There are large colonies of Chinstrap Penguins on the exterior coast, but few marine animals enter the harbor because there are numerous volcanic vents that heat the water to several degrees above the sea surrounding the island.
Competitors in The Last Desert 2006 ran a marathon stage on this island and were treated to a wonderful thermal bath at the finish line. Competitors in The Last Desert 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2016 also completed a stage on this unique horseshoe island.
Position at 64°48'S / 63°30'W
Dorian Bay is a cove on the northwest side of Wiencke Island, located 0.5 mile E-NE of Damoy Point, in the Palmer Archipelago. British and Argentine huts may be found on-site. Damoy Point is the north entrance point to Port Lockroy harbor and on the west side of Wiencke Island in the Palmer Archipelago. The point was discovered and named by Charcot’s French Antarctic expedition (1903-05).
From inner Dorian Bay, the land rises gently from a bare, rocky landing to two huts, one a well-maintained and stocked British refuge hut, the second a small Argentinean hut. The landing area below the huts is a minor sand beach, interspersed with many glaciated, polished rocks. Behind them the land rises gently on one side to a rounded, bare hilltop 30-40 meters above sea level. On the other side a steep snowy slope leads up onto the end of a glacier. The site’s outcrops are mainly low, smooth and polished. At an elevation of 6-7 meters above sea level, there are outcrops nearly covered with many small and well-rounded fragments of granitic, gneiss/schist, and other materials. British and Argentine huts are located on site.
The Last Desert Competitors in 2010 and 2016 ran on this scenic bay.
Position at 63°24'S / 56°59'W
The Argentine Base Esperanza (Spanish "Hope Base") is located in Hope Bay, Trinity Peninsula, Antarctic Peninsula. Built in 1952, the base houses 55 inhabitants in winter, including 10 families and 2 school teachers.
There are remains of an expedition hut from a Swedish expedition that wintered there in 1903. The Argentine Esperanza Research Station, Adelie Penguins and Snowy Sheathbills are some of the highlights. Esperanza Base has some measure of fame because it is the birthplace of Emilio Marcos Palma, the first person to be born in Antarctica. The Base's motto is "Permanencia, un acto de sacrificio" ("Permanence, an act of sacrifice").
Competitors in The Last Desert 2006 completed the Antarctic continent’s first 100-mile stage on this location.
Position at 62°02'S /58°21'W
King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands. There are numerous international research stations on this island including the Polish Arctowski Station and the Brazilian Ferraz Station Admiralty Bay. On the western side there are Russian, Chilean, Chinese, Korean, and Uruguayan stations. Competitors may have an opportunity to visit one of these stations while completing a stage on this island.
King George Island also contains an airstrip on which competitors in The Last Desert 2006 flew into to begin The Last Desert in 2006. Competitors in The Last Desert 2006 ran their final stage on this island, while competitors in The Last Desert 2010 ran their first stage here. King George Island was also part of the course in 2012 and 2016.
Position at 64°50'S / 062°33'W
Neko Harbour is a harbour in Antarctica on Andvord Bay, situated on the west coast of Graham Land. Neko Harbour was discovered by Belgian explorer Adrien de Gerlache in the early 20th century. It was named for a Norwegian whaling boat, the Neko, which operated in the area between 1911 and 1924.
Competitors ran in this location in The Last Desert in 2007, 2008 and 2012. Ice crashing into the sea, also known as “calving,” can be heard from this location. This location offers stunning views but also a large hill which competitors have to traverse.
Position at 64°54'S / 63°32'W
Paradise Bay is a harbor in West Antarctica. The Argentinean scientific base, Almirante Brown Antarctic Base, is located on the banks of Paradise Bay, as is the Chilean scientific base, González Videla Antarctic Base. Almirante Brown Antarctic Base is an Argentine base named after Admiral Guillermo Brown, the father of the Argentine Navy. The original station located in Paradise Bay was burned down in 1984. The base has been partially rebuilt, but is occupied only in the summer season.
Competitors in The Last Desert 2006 and 2016 competed in this location. It offers spectacular views.
Position at 65°10'S / 064°10'W
Petermann Island is a small island just off the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula of Antarctica, located at 65 deg 10 min S, 64 deg 10 min W, just a short distance south of Booth Island and the Lemaire Channel. Just 2 kilometers long, the low rounded island is home to the world's southernmost colony of Gentoo Penguins and also hosts a number of Adelie Penguins. The island was discovered by a German expedition of 1873-74, who named it after geographer August Petermann. The French Antarctic Expedition of 1908-10 wintered over aboard ship in a cove on the southeast side of the island, named Port Circumcision because it was spotted 1 January 1909, the traditional day for the Feast of the Circumcision. Huts built by the expedition are gone, although a cairn remains, along with a refuge hut built by Argentina in 1955, and a cross commemorating three members of the British Antarctic Survey who died in a 1982 attempt to cross the sea ice from Faraday station to Petermann.
Competitors in The Last Desert 2008 competed in this location. It is one of the most beautiful locations in Antarctica.
Position at 64°49’S/ 63°29’W
Port Lockroy is a natural harbour on the Antarctic Peninsula of the British Antarctic Territory. After its discovery in 1903 by the French Antarctic Expedition it was used for whaling and British military operations (Operation Tabarin) during World War II and then continued to operate as a British research station until 1962. In 1996 Port Lockroy was renovated and is now a museum and post office operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. It is designated as Historic Site no. 61 under the Antarctic Treaty and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Antarctica. Lockroy was named after Edouard Lockroy, a French politician and Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, who assisted Jean-Baptiste Charcot in obtaining government support for the French expedition.
Weather and time permitting, we will visit this location to see the museum.
The Last Desert 2018 is the eighth edition of the event and takes place in November 2016.
All competitors for The Last Desert must qualify for the event by having successfully completed at least two of the other 4 Deserts - the Gobi March (China), the Atacama Crossing (Chile) and /or the Sahara Race (Namibia).
Competitors will board an expedition ship to sail across the Drake Passage – the expedition ship will be their base for the duration of the event.
South Shetland Islands, Wiencke Island, Port Lockroy, Petermann Island, Paradise Bay, Neko Harbour, Aitcho Island, Cuverville Island and Dorian Bay are just some of the locations where stages of The Last Desert could take place.
Temperatures on the course could reach as low as -20°C / -4°F.
More than half of those competing in The Last Desert will join the 4 Deserts Club when they cross the final finish line.
In 2016, nineteen competitors completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam (a competition to complete all 4 Deserts in one calendar year), concluding at The Last Desert 2016. In total, only 66 individuals have achieved a 4 Deserts Grand Slam title.
NBC Sports produced a film of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2007, MBC filmed The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2008 and TransWorld Sport filmed The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010.
The history of the past explorers and whaling era as well as the fascinating wildlife give Antarctica its culture – and it has both of these in abundance!
The Last Desert is a 250-kilometer multi-stage footrace on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Last Desert is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series, a unique worldwide endurance series. It is the only multi-stage race in Antarctica.
Deserts are separated into four categories: subtropical, cool coastal, cold winter and polar. The 4 Deserts is located in the largest desert of each category which also represents the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on Earth. The course has also been set up to pass through some of the most beautiful, pristine land on Earth.
The Last Desert is a multi-stage, 250-kilometer footrace held in four to six locations on and around the Antarctic Peninsula. Each individual must carry a minimal amount of mandatory equipment. Assistance, including water (plenty), shelter and medical assistance, is provided throughout the race.
The Last Desert (Antarctica) competitors sleep on the expedition ship
The typical competitor is a working professional, a high achiever – someone who believes in maximizing every opportunity in life. Our competitors generally work full time, some have families, many do a lot of community service and all lead a healthy lifestyle. Our competitors consist of medical doctors, professors, investment bankers, small business owners, actor, actresses, 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 typical competitor is a working professional, a high achiever – someone who believes in maximizing every opportunity in life. Our competitors generally work full time, some have families, many do a lot of community service and all lead a healthy lifestyle. Our competitors consist of medical doctors, professors, investment bankers, small business owners, actor, actresses, 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 event is set up to allow for generous cutoff times. The leaders run most of the course, and many walk the whole course.
The course consists of four to six locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and the islands surrounding the continent. Each location has different weather and snow conditions which can vary from very soft and deep snow to hard packed snow, slush or ice. Elevation gain, altitude and distance can vary greatly per location – due to the challenging weather conditions, locations can change with short notice.
The Last Desert is a unique, special experience. Deserts are stunningly beautiful because they are (1) remote and pristine and (2) sparsely populated. Solitude leads to a very spiritual experience.
The Last Desert competitors must qualify for the race by successfully completing two of the other races in the 4 Deserts Race Series.
Many say it’s the competitors themselves – that they leave the event with a new set of friends from all over the world. Many call on these new friends in business later or just to have dinner when passing through someone’s hometown. Some have even met their future spouse!
Absolutely - we encourage it. Giving back is one of the primary themes of the 4 Deserts mission. Many of our competitors have raised significant amounts of money for charities all over the world.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
Custom made flags and banners are used in all 4 Deserts events, including The Last Desert. Sometimes the katabatic winds are so strong that the flag poles can't be used and alternative methods have to be found. In one case, chunks of ice washed up on the shore enabling the staff to display all the flags on ice at the finish line.
Special bibs are made for competitors in The Last Desert. The bibs take into account the katabatic winds in the Antarctic. Regular bibs cannot withstand these winds.
The Last Desert logo was created by an artist based in Hong Kong. The logo was designed to create a feeling of the last great unexplored and desolate place on the planet with individuals or teams reaching out to conquer this final challenge venturing into the unknown.
Five satellites will be used in Antarctica, four of which are called BGANs. BGANS provide broadband internet access virtually anywhere in the world. Breaking news, photographs, features, results, daily stage updates and videos will be uploaded through BGAN terminals. BGAN terminals are not 100% reliable, and thus information delays are highly probable.
Competitors are delivered to each stage by special boats called zodiacs. Zodiacs were first created by the French and can only be used with moderate winds. If the winds become too severe, competitors will have to wait on shore until the winds calm before returning to the ship. All equipment must be transported in waterproof bags as ice cold water sometimes splashes into the zodiac.
The only spectators in Antarctica will be the ever-friendly penguins. Competitors will see thousands of penguins and other forms of wildlife as they conquer The Last Desert. Penguins reside in the exterior of Antarctica and not the interior, such as at the South Pole.
Special biodegradable bags are used to mark the course for The Last Desert event. These bags are filled with snow and designed so that no wind can blow them away, and are removed at the end of each stage. The bags are bright pink in keeping with the pink course flags used in all other RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events.
Competitors will be housed on M/V Plancius for the duration of The Last Desert. M/V Plancius was originally built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy, a duty which it carried out for 28 years until 2004. It was then refurbished into a 114-passenger expedition ship. The 89 meter / 293 foot ship was built for ice conditions to be able to easily manage the harsh conditions the Antarctic offers - to reach these ice conditions she has a strengthened bow and stern. The hull is thicker and the whole construction on the waterline of the vessel is reinforced by using extra frames.
A team of 4 Deserts Race Series staff will be managing the event. The team includes Founder Mary Gadams, who will be visiting Antarctica for her eight time, event management team members, course director, medical team, and event photographer.
In addition to the 4 Deserts Race Series management team there is also team of Antarctica experts led by Expedition Leader Kelvin Murray. Other experts include guides that lead excursions for mountaineering, camping, kayaking and snowshoeing. The experts on board will be able to lecture on different aspects of Antarctic history, flora and fauna, and climate, amongst other topics.
Expedition Leader: Kelvin Murray
An accomplished professional diver with over twenty-five instructor ratings plus commercial and technical diving qualifications, Kelvin recently over-wintered in Antarctica as Field Diving Officer for the British Antarctic Survey. Managing the only scientific diving program that consistently dives throughout the Antarctic winter allowed Kelvin to participate in several hundred dives in this challenging environment.
Expedition diving has allowed Kelvin to dive all over the world, on every continent and in every ocean. He has explored polar seas to tropical reefs with high definition cameras and ROV technology. Working in collaboration with Dr. Sylvia Earle's Mission Blue Foundation, Kelvin provides video footage and stills images to the Ocean layer of Google Earth.
Previously, Kelvin was Education Officer for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. In addition he is an ardent advocate for sharks and has dived with several species of these much-misunderstood animals. Kelvin also worked as a marine survival instructor for an internationally renowned training facility, and has extensive first aid, medic and hyperbaric chamber qualifications at responder and instructor level. Kelvin was the Expedition Leader for The Last Desert 2012 and 2014