RACE COVERAGE

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Pre-Race Update

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2018 got underway on Friday, 23 November when participants boarded the expedition ship in Ushuaia to head to Antarctica!

The first Stage is set to take place on King George Island and should be begin around 6 am on Monday, 26 November lasting for some 12 hours, if weather is favourable.

After pre-race briefings and events competitors boarded the MV Plancius expedition ship for a relatively un-eventful crossing of the infamous Drake Passage – rolling 6 meter waves and 15-20 knots winds is considered calm in this part of the world.  Activities included lectures about the history, wildlife and geogrpahy of Antarctica, vacuuming all equipment that will go on shore, sleeping and wildlife spotting.  Competitors were treated to a 20-minute show by Fin Whales which are second in size to Blue Whales. These giant animals travel at 25-30 knots which is twice as fast as the M/V Plancius could sail! 

 

For Kan, Chao Chun (Jim) this is something he has waited for long: “Not a lot of people can make it to Antarctica. The fact that I can do the race, and in such a special place makes it even more amazing. I’m the first person in my family to make it here, which makes it super special.”

 

There are 29 countries represented in the race. Malaysia, Belgium, Romania, Finland, Guatemala and the Netherlands will be represented for the first time in Antarctica and the 4 Deserts Club! The race is also on for the 4 Deserts Champions who will also be crowned at The Last Desert!  Among the group are 12 Grand Slam competitors who have completed 750km / 465  miles of racing across 4 Deserts course already this year. 

 

Special mention to blind competitor Vladmi Dos Santos who is returning to his 7th race with RacingThePlanet and Team 5 Legs Never Quit which includes Mr. Fung, an amputee.

In anticipation of the first landing, competitors had a briefing on what to expect on shore tomorrow and subsequent days. Everyone feels that it is a privilege to be here, and therefore we want to keep the area as untouched as possible.

 

The first Stage is set to take place on King George Island and should be begin around 6 am on Monday, 26 November lasting for some 12 hours, if weather is favourable.

 

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For intermediate updates during each stage have a look at the Breaking News and our social media: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter

For intermediate updates during each stage have a look at the Breaking News and our social media: InstagramFacebookYouTube and Twitter

Stage 1 Update

Stage 1 got underway today, Monday, 26 November at 07:15.  There was an early wake-up call and breakfast. Competitors were excited to get on the Zodiac boats for the first time to take to dry(?) land in Antarctica. Everyone was excited to "touch in Antarctica", to be off the ship and to get started.

RESULTS:

MEN:

Iulian Rotariu (Romania) completed 79.66 kilometers and is in first place after Stage 1.

Wong, Ho Chung (Hong Kong) completed 79.66 kilometers but 45 minutes slower than Rotariu which puts him to second place.

Christoph Santini (France) completed 73.08 kilometers

 

WOMEN:

Isabelle Sauve (Canada completed 66.36 kilometers

Ann Verhaeghe (Belgium) completed 59.78 kilometers

Jacqui Bell (Australia) completed 53.06 kilometers

 

All competitors completed Stage 1.

The course was a 13.3 km route around King George Island.  They ran past the China, Chile and Uruaguay bases and then back to the Russian base which was in the centre of a figure of eight.  The Russian base is clearly visible by the wooden Catholic Orthodox Church.  This Stage of the race is the only one where they will see signs of human habitation.

The weather conditions turned out to be fairly stable but competitors got to experience all kinds of weather in one day. Temperature was around -1C / 30F but it was snowing at times heavily and with the breeze in their faces it felt colder. Underfoot was difficult - it was soft snow for most of the way which started to melt and therefore became wet. 

Romanian Iulian Rotariu was triumphant on Stage 1. He raced Hong Kong’s Wong Ho Chung who has this year won the Gobi March (Mongolia) and Atacama Crossing (Chile) and came second at the Namib Race. For Rotariu this is not his first race in the snow whereas Wong is still getting used to it! We will follow with interest how the competition develops. Wong completed the same number of laps as Rotariu but took 45 minutes longer to do this. Not far from them was Christoph Santini of France.   

Isabelle Sauve from Canada took the stage for women. The police officer from Ontario has completed three previous 4 Deserts races in first and second places so she’s a definite contender for the 4 Deserts Champion award. Ann Verhaeghe from Belgium and Australian Jacqui Bell made steady progress and reached distances of 59.78km and 53.06 placing second and third respectively.  

Vladmi Dos Santos who is blind did amazingly running with Rebecca Walker. They reached 39.9 kilometers on the first stage! Running through the snow Vladmi was celebrating his birthday!

Another impressive achievement is the one of Camel Fung who is an amputee and also running in the snow for the first time!
 

REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THE WEBSITE:

All Updates: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Breaking News: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

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

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

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

As well as our social media - FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram

Stage 2 Update

Danco Island was the location for Stage 2 of The Last Desert 2018 on Tuesday, 27 November. What a wonderful location it was for this Stage!

Due to the longer sailing distance to this location, the stage was shorter.

Start time: 15:03

Finish time: 18:30

Danco had a lot inhabitats in the form of birds, hundreds of penguins and whales!!! Competitors also got to admire blue shaded huge icebergs as they drove in with the Zodiak boats. 

The weather changed hourly but it was quite cold with high winds.

Despite the challenging course everyone made great progress today during the 3.5 hour stage:

 

MEN

Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong) won Stage 2 today reaching 32km

Iulian Rotariu (Romania) was second with a distance of 30 km

Christophe Santani (France) in third place having completed 18 kilometre

 

WOMEN

Isabelle Sauve (Canada) is the female winner having run 24 km

Ann Verhaega (Belgium) in second place with a distance of 20 km

Annastiina Hintsa (Finland) in third place having completed 18 km

 

This puts Wong Ho Chung and Isabelle Sauve as the overall winners so far.  Eva Zhou from China is coming in last but still strong and smiling. 

Vladmi Dos Santos and his running partner Rebecca Walker had a great day moving up to 35th place.

Eilon Armon from Israel is also having a strong run in joint 22nd place.

See the full results on the website to the full list of placings.

 

Some penguins of course crossed the course a few times which created traffic jams as they have right of way.

At the end some of the bravest competitors did a polar plunge! Jacqui Bell, Annastiina Hinsta, Sebastian Lippert, Jim Kan and volunteer Natasha bit the bullet and jumped into the icy Antarctic water!
 

Some comments from competitors after Stage 2

Iulian Rotariu: “I was most impressed by the chance to run side by side with the penguins. They often beat me because I had to stop. I was tempted to do the polar plunge but I've never experienced such a thing. Maybe I would do it on a rest day, or after the last stage.”

 

Maik Becker: “It was a special day because of the penguins, then the icebergs and hearing the ice cracking. I didn't even realise 3.5 hours were up, time went so fast”

.

Andrei Gligor: “I usually hate running uphill but today I couldn't wait to get to the top on each loop, just so I could reach the penguin colony. I felt like I was an TV presenter, working for National Geographic!”

 

Jerrad: “I hope the next stage will be like this one.”

 

Jim Kan: “Today was very good. Beautiful. Peaceful. Amazing. For the first lap though, I was running behind the leaders. Every step was a nightmare, but then the snow compacted down and they just got better and better.

 

Results and blogs from Stage 2 are all on the website.  Photos and Videos are waiting for better reception. 

Tomorrow will be a long day which will separate the field.

 

REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THE WEBSITE:

All Updates: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Breaking News: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

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

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

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

As well as our social media - FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram

Stage 3 Update

Stony Point in Paradise Bay is where Stage 3 of The Last Desert 2018 took place on Wednesday, 28 November. It provided amazing views and more sightings of penguins and seals while competitors completed the 10-hour stage. 

Paradise Bay is located just off the Antarctic Peninsula and due to the close, sheltered distances it’s a home to many species of wildlife. Just like the day before, competitors were again treated to an insightful Zodiac drive to and from the start line where they get to see the blue shaded huge icebergs up close.

Getting too close can be dangerous as these blocks carry tons and tons of weight and they tend to turn around in the sunshine. The massive splashes that this causes as well as the roaring of distant avalanches were just some of the fascinating sounds that the athletes of The Last Desert got to listen to as they completed Stage 3.

Group photo just before the start of Stage 3

The weather changed very little during the day. It was mainly sunny throughout the day.

An incredible 70+km / 40+ miles was completed by the leaders on Stage 3. That puts them at 180+km / 110+ miles in total after the first three Stages. It is two fireman going head-to-head for first place. Hong Kong vs. Romania.  The average distance completed today was 41km / 25 miles. 

  • Start time: 10:00
  • Finish time: 20:00

The men’s and women’s top three remains the same as after Stage 2:

MEN:

  • Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong) 
  • Iulian Rotariu (Romania) 
  • Christophe Santani (France) 

 

WOMEN

  • Isabelle Sauve (Canada) 
  • Ann Verhaega (Belgium) 
  • Annastiina Hintsa (Finland) 


However there were changes further in the field:

  • Vikki Bester from Australia has overtaken her cabin-mate, Jacqui Bell taking 4th place for the women. 
  • Eilon Armon from Israel had a great day moving up 4 places in the overall rankings
  • Eva Zhou from China has moved up to 44th place from last.  
  • Team 5 Legs Never Quit from Hong Kong are the last but still very much in the game. 

A few quotes straight after the finish: 

  • Mauricio Cohen from USA / Mexico: I had fun, I really did. I enjoyed it. I'm ready for tomorrow, the sooner the better. I'll have time to sleep when it's over.
  • Vladmi dos Santos from Brazil, blind competitor, was referring to his guide Rebecca Walker as Rebecca Airlines. It did seem as though they were flying at some points too, despite malfunctioning gaiters and wet socks. He said, 'it seems like every day is a long day on Antarctica!'
  • Kasper, 2nd expedition leader, MV Plancius. 'I'm enjoying working with RacingThePlanet and the runners. Everyone is polite, and I'm surprised at how focussed they are on the race. This trip for me is more focussed on logistics and people because there are so many moving parts.'
  • Masato Nakamura from Japan: 'Today was in a really nice, beautiful landscape. I really enjoyed it. I'm tired but my legs are still good. 
  • Zhihong Lin from China: 'today was very good. I took a lot of pictures. I'm feeling ok because I'm taking it fairly easy so that I have energy left over for tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to.'

 

Stage 4 is planned to start tomorrow, Thursday 29 November at 06:00 for another 12 hour day on Dorian Bay. The front runners could reach the 250km / 155 miles!  Once each person reaches that goal then they can stop running.  Everyone else will carry on to get as close to 250km as possible. 

                                           

REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THE WEBSITE:

All Updates: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Breaking News: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

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

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

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

As well as our social media - FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram


 

 

 

Stage 4 Update

Wong Ho Chung of Hong Kong Wins The Last Desert 2018!

 

Stage 4 of The Last Desert 2018 took place in Dorian Bay. The plan was to start running early but the start had to be delayed due to high winds and fog. It wasn’t safe to land in those conditions.  

The countdown took place at 12:15 and the stage concluded at 19:00 which still meant nearly 7 hours of running.

It was raining, snowing and very windy all day.  However lots of penguins came to play and the stunning mountains gave this stage a magnificent backdrop.

The absolute highlight and closure of the day was Wong Ho Chung of Hong Kong reached the 250 kilometer distance! He did it just on time, and got to 67.2 kilometers just before 19:00! Iulian Rotariu of Romania completed 62.4 kilometers. 

In the women’s competition, Isabelle Sauve of Canada continued her strong steady performance and remained in the lead until the end. She has now run 196 kilometers.

The men’s and women’s top five and distances going to the final Stage 5. The aim is to have the maximum number of competitor to complete the 250 kilometer distance.

MEN:

  • Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong) 251.28 kilometers (race completed!)
  • Iulian Rotariu (Romania) 244.48km – 4.52 km to go!
  • Christophe Santani (France) 217.2 km
  • Takyua Wakaoka (Japan) 210.06 km
  • Maik Becker (Switzerland) 207.64

 

WOMEN

  • Isabelle Sauve (Canada) 196.14 km
  • Ann Verhaege (Belgium) 175.06 km
  • Jacqueline Bell (Australia) 152.06 km
  • Annastiina Hintsa (Finland) 146.9 km
  • Vikki Bester 142.5 km


Full results are available at https://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/results

Competitors had time to rest a bit longer (and that was well received after the previous day’s long hours). These were their thoughts while waiting to start:

Simon Melanson, Canada: “I love Antarctica. I've been to a lot of the Canadian Arctic, which is stunning but Antarctica is like the super beautiful older sister. Interesting are the views, which seem bigger than 360 degrees. The hills and cliffs look like icing sugar dusted onto blue jelly, and they change colour during the day. I underestimated the beauty and scale.” Simon's family are travelling with him. He says, “my eldest, Olivia was in a penguin colony yesterday and laughed herself to tears watching penguins steal rocks from each other.”

 

Hichame Mourabak, Qatar: “The location of yesterday's race was amazing. We asked for tough and we got it, although I think I'd have been happier with a 6 or 7 hour day. It was very long.”

 

Isabelle Sauve: “In a way, I'd like to get going today but I'm also kind of pleased there's a delay as I couldn't get to sleep last night so an extra hour of rest is welcome.“

 

Scott Baldridge gives staff member Natasha a high five and eats 3 cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon rolls are excellent on the ship, but he says putting three together is like an American cinnamon roll. He is running with a penguin toy. He says, “I enjoyed yesterday. I got smiles from everyone and about 1000 high fives on the circuit and at the checkpoint.”


Stage 5 is planned to start tomorrow on Michelson Island approximately 7:30 for an early return to the ship at 10:30. M/V Plancius will then turn around to start the journey home (to Ushuaia).

                                         

REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THE WEBSITE:

All Updates: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Breaking News: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

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

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

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

As well as our social media - FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram


 

 

Stage 5 Update

And that’s a wrap! The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2018 has concluded!  The final stage (Stage 5) took place on Mikkelsen Harbour located in the Palmer Archipelago, Antarctica. Competitors finished a short 0,25 km stage which was largely ceremonial.

 

With an avalanche in the background and surrounded by penguin colonies, all 49 competitors received The Last Desert medal.  Isabelle Sauve of Canada and Wong Ho Chung of Hong Kong received the women's and overall champions prizes.

 

It was a memorable moment for every single competitor and having shared together the whole journey from the calm to rough seas, all different race locations, running in blizzards, huge winds and gorgeous sun shine and blue skies everyone was so excited and happy at the finish line.

 

Group photos were taken of everyone as well as the new 4 Deserts Club members and those 12 competitors who joined the 4 Deserts Grand Slam.


The final results are available on the website but below are the top 5 of men and women:

 

MEN:

 

  1. Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong) 251.28 kilometers

  2. Iulian Rotariu (Romania) 244.48km

  3. Christophe Santani (France) 217.2 km

  4. Takyua Wakaoka (Japan) 210.06 km

  5. Maik Becker (Switzerland) 207.64

 

 

WOMEN:

 

  1. Isabelle Sauve (Canada) 196.14 km

  2. Ann Verhaege (Belgium) 175.06 km

  3. Jacqueline Bell (Australia) 152.06 km

  4. Annastiina Hintsa (Finland) 146.9 km

  5. Vikki Bester 142.5 km

 

The Last Desert Expedition Ship M/V Plancius is currently sailing through the rough waters of Drake Passage. The celebrations will continue aboard - the Awards Banquet will take place once the ship reaches the calm waters of the Beagle Channel. The estimated arrival in Ushuaia is on Monday morning, 3 December.   

 

Results, photos, blog updates and features are available on The Last Desert website. More content will be available during the next few days.

 

All Updates: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live

Breaking News: http://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/breaking_news

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

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

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

As well as our social media - FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram

 

 


 

 

 

Stage 6 Update

The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2018 gets underway on 23 November when participants board the expedition ship for the 1,000km / 620 mile voyage across the Drake Passage to Antarctica. 

If a sixth Stage is possible, it will take place on 1 December. Note that the exact timing and number of each of the stages is subject to the weather conditions. 

The Stage 6 Update will be posted when Stage 5 is complete. For intermediate updates during each stage have a look at the Breaking News and our social media: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter

After the conclusion of the final stage particpants will remain on the expedition ship for the return voyage back to Ushuaia.  They will disembark from the ship on 3 December by 09:00 local time. 

Post-Race Update

The Awards Banquet  of The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2018 has concluded and M/V Plancius is just a few hours away from the port of Ushuaia. After somewhat stormy returned trip through the Drake Passage, all competitors and staff gathered together for the final celebrations.  The following competitors were awarded tonight:

 

THE LAST DESERT 2018 WINNERS:

 

  • Overall winner of The Last Desert 2018: Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong)
  • Second place winner: Iulian Rotariu (Romania)
  • Third place winner: Christoph Santini (France)

 

  • Women’s winner of The Last Desert 2018: Isabelle Sauve (Canada)
  • Women’s Second place winner: Ann Verhaege (Belgium)
  • Women’s Third place winner: Jacqueline Bell (Australia)

 

  • Spirit Award: Rebecca Walker (USA) and Vladmi Dos Santos (Brazil): for their impeccable cooperation and friendship through to the completion of The Last Desert 2018   

 

  • Sportsmanship Award: Scott Baldridge (USA): for his continuous support to his fellow competitors despite his own injuries during the race.

 

THE 4 DESERTS CHAMPIONS 2018: )

 

This award goes to the competitor with the lowest ranking of all 4 Deserts races combined.

 

  • The 4 Deserts Champion 2018 (Men): Wong Ho Chung (Hong Kong
  • The 4 Deserts Champion 2018 (Women): Isabelle Sauve (Canada)

 

GRAND SLAM 2018:

  • Bell, Jacqui (Australia) – now the youngest female in the world to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam!
  • Chew, William (Malaysia)
  • Choi, Hongseok (South Korea)
  • Clarance, Leon (UK)
  • Cheongsin, Heogwak (South Korea)
  • Jacobsen, Tommy (Denmark)
  • Moubarak, Hichame (Qatar / France)
  • Rybiec, Marek (Poland)
  • Van Schilt, Bart (Netherlands / Belgium)
  • Wakoaka, Takuya (Japan)
  • Wong, Ho Chung (Hong Kong)
  • Yoo, Dong Hyeon, Jason (South Korea)

4 DESERTS CLUB MEMBERS:

In addition to the 4 Deserts Grand Slam competitors, further 20 competitors joined the 4 Deserts Club at The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2018!

 

  • Alfaro, Ramiro (Guatemala)
  • Bester, Vikki (Australia)
  • Chak, Raymond (Hong Kong)
  • Chey, Jerrad (South Korea)
  • Cohen, Mauricio (United States / Mexico)
  • Dos Santos, Vladmi (Brazil)
  • Esseiva, Alan (Switzerland)
  • Gligor, Andrei (Romania)
  • Grosse, David (UK)
  • Hennessy, Martin (Ireland)
  • Hintsa, Annastiina (Finland)
  • Holman, Marisa (USA)
  • Huang, Jason (Taiwan)
  • Lippert, Sebastian (Germany)
  • Murphy, Bryan (UK)
  • Muylle, Joost (Belgium)
  • Rotariu, Iulian (Romania)
  • Sauve, Isabelle (Canada)
  • Seguin, Bruno (France)
  • Verhaege, Ann (Belgium)

 

One last stage is left and that is called the after party! Although some have already given up the celebrations and gone to bed, there is still a good number of competitors having drinks at the ship’s bar, making the most of the last hours together before arrival in Ushuaia in a few hours! Their ETA is 8:30 on Monday morning, 3 December.

 

Photos from the Awards Banquet and journey back are now available on the website under Stage 6, a well as blog updates.

 

Follow the race coverage including resultsphotosvideosstage updates and breaking news on the LIVE website at https://www.4deserts.com/thelastdesert/live. 

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