The Atacama Crossing, Chile

Training at 2400 ft of altitude
This year’s 4 Deserts series kicks off in March with the Atacama Crossing 2011, the world-renowned, 250km endurance footrace across the driest desert on the planet.

Competitors will spend seven days, from 6 – 12 March, moving through the stunning landscape of Chile’s Atacama Desert, on a grueling course that spans salt lakes, sand dunes, canyons and oases.

The racers will be carrying all of their own equipment and food for the week over the forbidding terrain and through soaring temperatures, with the added test of high altitude and severe aridity compounding the challenges they must endure. The Atacama Crossing is grueling not only because of the forbidding terrain which is rarely flat underfoot, and a harsh climate, but also because of the altitude that averages 2500m (8000ft) during the race.

Atacama’s ankle-breaking terrain

Many consider the Atacama Crossing to be the most difficult of the 4 Deserts series, thus always attracting top athletes — this seventh edition of the event is no different. The top contender for the 2011 race is 29-year old Anders Jensen of Denmark, who won the Sahara Race 2010, and is intent on repeating the feat.

Six competitors will also be setting out in Chile to finish the 4 Deserts series, which includes the Gobi March (China), the Sahara Race (Egypt) and The Last Desert (Antarctica), and join the prestigious 4 Deserts Club. Those competitors are Diego Carvajal (27) and Lady Lucy Tang (43) of the United Kingdom, Mayuko Okabe (29) of Japan, Alain Wehbi (42) of Lebanon, Devrim Celal (40) of Cyprus and Singapore’s Thaddeus Lawrence (38).

The Desert King
Anders (his mahjong ‘kaki’ call him the Desert King)  and Thaddeus are based in Singapore, and you can send them messages of encouragement and support here or leave a message on Anders’ competitor blog. They won’t get their mobile phones back till after the race so their only form of communication with the outside world are our email messages and blog comments. 

… so sign up for the email updates and send them a message to keep their spirits up! The race starts Sunday 6th March at 8am Chile time, which is 7pm Singapore time.

Sun 6th March, Stage 1: Navigation by Rock = 35 kilometers / 22 miles 

Mon 7th March: Stage 2: The Slot Canyons = 42 kilometers / 26 miles 

Tue 8th March, Stage 3: The Atacameños Trail = 40 kilometers / 25 miles 

Wed 9th March, Stage 4: The Infamous Saltflats = 43 kilometers / 27 miles 

Thu-Fri 10th-11th March, Stage 5: The Long March = 74 kilometers / 46 miles 

Sat 12th March, Stage 6: The Final Footsteps to San Pedro = 16 kilometers / 10 miles 

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