Signed up for 250km desert race!

Yeap, it has been on the radar for a while and I’m now off to the Gobi Desert in remote western China competing in a 250km footrace. A magical mix of 6 marathons in 7 days. The full course is off road and I’m carrying a pack with all food and equipment. The Gobi March is listed by Time Magazine as #2 on its top 10 list of endurance competitions. Check out for full race details.

Yes the word competing is reality. In 2007 and 2008 I’ve covered a few the 4 Desert races as the official race photographer, see here my photo movie. So I’ve seen the inside of the race and now its time to experience the brutal other side. I’m so excited yet so intimidated at the same time.

In between jobs my time has been dedicated towards training, in particular long runs in the desert and wadi’s. Evenings are spent behind the computer reducing the weight of my pack. Everything (except water and shared tent) is carried therefore every gram I can save counts. I got excited when I found an alternative fleece top that weights 140 grams less and I just spend a fair sum of dollars on a sleeping bag saving me 475 grams. These kind of weird math exercises…I know it does sound bit childish.

I promised friends to share the ‘WHY’ question. So what is my reasoning?

– Because I can. I know it sounds cliché. There are those out there who would want to but can’t. Those who should but don’t know yet. And there is a group who talks about it but never sign up, always finding an excuse to not enter. I belonged to the last group for a while and had to shift mindset from should-do to have-done. This gives me strength.

– Racing bring life back to the basics. Eat – Sleep – Survive. Arguable racing is like a Ritz Carlton pamper holiday week, only with a different menu.

– I’m after the hidden experience. Besides the physical challenge, which will hurt, it’s about the uplifting mental thought process. Out in the field there are no digital distractions just a free flow of thoughts. What will cross my mind? What becomes important vs urgent? What inspiring conversation shall I have. I’m tempted to bring a voice recorder to trap some good thinking before it evaporates back to the wild. I know from experience that my best (strategic) thinking is done when completely relaxed. A 250km run might not sound relaxing but will certainly clear my head.

– To the outside world such a race might be considered a mad undertaking. Once inside the race bubble it is all relative and makes perfect sense. Shared. Everyone is equal, in it with the same goal – to cross the finish arch. There are no stripes, no suits. Only shorts and blisters. It is more open and honest. Run a bit and look after yourself and look after each other. The difficult task is how to share this experience with friends and family once you leave this bubble. Back into the, so called, real world.

– Because I am running this to raise money for a great charity in Uganda. More about this below.

– Finally what happens in the Gobi…stays in the Gobi. Some juicy details will remain a secret.

Let me bounce the ball back to you. What thoughts will cross your mind when you are out in the wild in the middle of the night? What will move you? Wanna join?

I’ve got two concerns that keep me busy. Firstly that the distance is going to be more painful than anticipated and secondly that I’ll get addicted to it, making Gobi only the start of more to come… I interviewed Mark Lattanzi at the end of a Primal Quest adventure race and he admitted racing is addictive. Let’s find out.

Charity. I’m running the race in support of a great charity. My criteria for a notable charity is that our money ends up on the dinner plate for those in real need. That it’s run by a small dedicated management team who prefer economy class over business, are hands on and passionate in what they believe in. I believe to have found the perfect match in ABC Children’s Aid Uganda.

This charity has a 20 year track record of great work educating kids in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda. Anne, great friend of mine just got back from Uganda and has seen the founders and team in action and is very exciting about the awesome work that is being done. For me that is a comforting message knowing that all the funds will ends up where its really needed. The project I’m raising cash for is the construction and outfitting of a library at the Kitetika College. With all YOUR help I would like to raise US$ 15,600. This target is what they need to complete their project, allowing thousands of kids access to an incredible valuable source of education and knowledge. Who knows, the next US president might come from Uganda…

How can you help? Firstly by making a donation. A big one, small one, huge one. What works for you, they all add up and everything goes towards this charity project (note, my race is 100% self funded). I don’t use my Paypal account and see this as the quickest and easiest way to centrally collect the donations (unless anyone has a better idea). Log into Paypal, click send money, put in my email address and add the amount. Short and sweet. At the end I’ll report what has been donated.

Finally the real POWER is by forwarding this message. Twitter it. Blog about it. Facebook it. SMS or forward by email. What works for you to make more noise. Remember the power of raising money is talking to the wider audience. I hope to count on your participation.

Few weeks before the race kicks off. The last long runs, hope to knock off another 350 grams of my pack and looking forward to see how the donations for Urganda are coming in.

Finally putting together an Ipod with music and I’m keen to load it up with great running beats. Please send me your top 5 favorite running tunes and I”ll add it to the playlist.

If you have any questions or suggestions drop me a line at:

More to come…


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