This weekend is turning out to be a good one for endurance athletes. Not only do we have an exceptional adventure race in Colorado and the Western States 100 in California, halfway around the world another group of ultrarunners are preparing to set out on the 2011 edition of the Gobi March, a 250km (155 mile) trek through the Gobi Desert.
The annual race, which is part of the 4 Deserts series of ultramarathons, is set to be another grueling affair this year. Race officials were out on the course yesterday and reported that temperatures were around 42ºC (107ºF) and conditions are expected to remain warm after the race gets underway on Sunday.
At the moment, the competitors are all arriving at the Turpan Basin, a remote region of China that is known to be very dry and hot. This year's route will take them through Aydingkol Lake, which sits 155 meters (508 feet) below sea level and is the farthest point from any ocean on the planet. This year there are 152 athletes, from 30 countries, taking part in the Gobi March. Over the course of the six stages and seven days of racing, they'll be completely self supported while out on the course.
One of the competitors in the 2011 Gobi March is a friend of mine. His name is Wouter Kingma and he'll be taking part in his first ever ultra-event, although he has run plenty of marathons in the past. Wouter is a well known and respected professional photographer who has often attending these kinds of events in a official capacity to take photographs, but this time he'll be on the other side of the lens. He is running to raise money for the ABC Children's Aid Uganda, an organization that works hard to help children in Uganda who are orphaned due to AIDS/HIV or armed conflict.
I want to wish Wouter and all the competitors good luck in this fantastic event.
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