The Line Up at the Atacama Crossing 2019

The 2019 edition of the Atacama Crossing gets underway in the depths of the Atacama Desert on Sunday, 29 September. Let´s take a look at the figures:

There are 36 different countries are represented in the race. The United States is the most represented country at 17% followed by the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. At the other side of the spectrum Argentina, Austria, Brazil, China, Iran, Kenya, South Korea, Norway, Scotland, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Sweden have one representative each. In between there will be runners from Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, France, Poland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Germany.

The field is made up of 71% men and 29% women.

By age groups, the runners are distributed as follows:

29 years or under: 7%

- 30-39: 26%

- 40-49: 27%

- 50-59: 34%

- 60-69: 3%

- 70 or above: is impressively represented by 2 runners 

Some of these athletes are at the Atacama Crossing for the experience, challenge, fun, adventure, travel and friendships they will make, and all the amazing experiences these races entail. But others are there to push themselves and are looking for a podium finish.

The favourites this year are:

Jovica Spajic (Serbia) Sheila Sanei (Sweden)
Marc Colonna (France) Anim Swart (Canada)
Munir Nanji (Kenya) Tanja Schönenborn (Germany)
Rafael Fuchsgruber (Germany) Petra Dzurova (Slovak Republic)
Kuba Zwolinski (Poland) Sarah Oppermann (Ireland)


For the men, Jovica Spajic, a member of the special forces from Serbia who finished 2nd at the Namib Race 2017, is the favourite. Rafael Fuchsgruber from Germany has earned a podium place in four of his six RacingThePlanet Ultras so far – he may be 58 and he comes into this race with an injury, but we know not to under estimate his capability.

Others to watch include 4 Deserts Club member Nicola Benetti from Italy who regularly finishes in the Top 10 and certainly has experience in his favour as the Atacama Crossing is his tenth RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultra; Munir Nanji from Kenya / Singapore who had a 10th place finish in RacingThePlanet: New Zealand and Kuba Zwolinski who had an 11th place finish at the Namib Race 2018 – both were doing their first RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultras and are likely to come back stronger; and last but not least we are led to believe that Marc Colonna could be one to watch as he comes to his first RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultra.

For the women, the favourite has to be Sheila Sanei who finished 2nd at the Gobi March 2016.  Anim Swart is coming to her third race this year with a 5th place the Namib Race (even among the tough competition of the Race of Champions) and 4th at the Gobi March; Tanja Schonenborn has an inspiring story - she lost 25kg and became a fitness instructor when she decided to turn her life around. She has since fallen in love with running and achieved 5th place at her debut long race in the Gobi March 2018; and two new entries into stage racing include Sarah Opperman from the United Kingdom and Petra Dzurova from the Slovak Republic.

A special mention needs to be made for the following people:

- Bill Mitchell – will set the record for the oldest person to complete the Atacama Crossing and any RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultra when he crosses the final finish line in San Pedro Square. Bill is 75 years young. 

- Zeana Haroun – is representing the RacingThePlanet management team at her third race. 

- Ash “Ashacama” Mokhtari is joining his 11th consecutive Atacama Crossing race – and he has finished every single one. 

Ash Mokhtari is not the only one who feels the draw to the desert oasis of San Pedro. No less than ten other people in the race have been on the start line at least once before. This includes Jim Steele, Tom Sperry, Dean Scott, Tadashi Murakami, Yves Lortie, Ricky Fontaine and Nicola Benetti.

Follow the race as it happens live from the Atacama Desert in Chile through our website with daily results, photos, videos, blogs and more.