During this race, our reporter will face temperatures ranging from -20C to 30C, wild dogs and 250 miles of inhospitable desert – and the clock never stops ticking
A week is a long time in running. Or, to be more precise, a week is long time if you are planning to run pretty much continually throughout it. After a few rash decisions and some naive optimism, I am now in the Gobi desert in China, about to face this exciting, if somewhat daunting, prospect.
The Ultra Trail of the Gobi (UTG) describes itself as a 400km (250-mile) single-stage, self-navigated, self-supported race. Loosely based on the journey of a seventh-century Buddhist monk Xuanzang (he took several years), the route passes some truly inhospitable terrain in Gansu Province. In his records, Xuanzang describes it as a place that contains “nothing but barren sand and dry river beds”, where “when it is hot, the heat sears you like a flame; when it is cold, the wind cuts your flesh like a knife”. Based on information from someone who has checked out the course, it doesn’t sound as if much has changed in the past 1,400 years. During this race, the 49 other competitors and I will have to battle with temperatures ranging from -20C to 30C, avoid underfed wild dogs and wolves and face a 3000-metre mountain thrown in for good measure. The cut-off time is 150 hours – and the clock runs continuously.
Link : The Gobi desert ultramarathon – the hardest race in the world?