Why Georgia – RacingThePlanet Community Explains

There has always been a buzz around the big announcement for the next RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon and when the small country of Georgia, surrounded by the Caucasus mountain range, was revealed to be the new location for 2021 the excitement was no different.

“Every year I wait with anticipation to hear where the RacingThePlanet Ultra will be,” Linda Quirk, a 4 Deserts Club member, explains. “When Georgia was announced it immediately intrigued me. All I expect is another beautiful, culturally rich adventure that will take me way outside of my comfort zone…because it’s actually comfortable there!!!” says this seasoned ultramarathon veteran from the USA.

Linda Quirk conquering RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016Linda Quirk conquering RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016

The race brings together participants from more than 45 countries. Approximately 50% of the field are coming to tackle their first ever RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts race whereas the other half are returning RacingThePlanet competitors who are looking forward to the great reunion. “I know it will be a spectacular course and location, but for me it's all about the people,” says Karen Wei, a mother of two from Hong Kong who is returning for her 11th race with RacingThePlanet. Her best two pieces of advice for those preparing for their first race: “GO LIGHT! Seriously. Every part of you will be grateful for the pounds and ounces you shave off your pack.” She then continues: “Success is: 1/3 good foot care, 1/3 physical, 1/3 mental. All 3 things are equally important.”

Karen Wei enjoying the many challenges faced at the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018Karen Wei enjoying the many challenges faced at the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018

Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia charms visitors with its fascinating mixture of medieval history from the Silk Road times, blended together with a strong identity of a country that has recently gained independence following nearly a hundred years of the Soviet era. Georgia’s culture is colourful and takes any visitor on an exciting journey of discovering the birth place of wine, and traditional cuisine that spans Asian to European delicacies such as dumplings, hearty stews and soups. The old villages, including Ushguli, the highest settlement in Europe, and the lost region of Javakheti, where the course is located, take competitors back in time allowing them to experience a completely new kind of RacingThePlanet race.

Ashley Burke, an Australian who has dedicated much of his life to traveling and exploring places off the beaten track, is now returning for his fifth race. “I have two passions in life. The first is to explore new and different corners of the world, different countries, terrains and cultures. And the second passion is to find ways to push myself to new boundaries, to discover my limits and try to push beyond them. These races fulfil both these passions during a week spent pushing boundaries in a new country every time,” says Ashley, explaining his choice of Georgia, which is not one of the 65 countries that he has travelled through.

“The races are meticulously organised and regardless of which corner of the world they are held in, they follow a set and proven model, flawlessly executed. Great staff and volunteers cheer on competitors and offer every support and motivation,” he adds. 

Ashley Burke experiencing those 'finish line feels' at the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2019Ashley Burke experiencing those 'finish line feels' at the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2019

Avi Blaiberg, who completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam in 2016 under the flag of Israel, elaborates: “There are so many great memories…each race has its moments. Sometimes it's the scenery, sometimes it's personal moments of spiritual ‘high’ of full connection with nature, sometimes it's the people, and the best is the combination of all the above. My best moments are usually at extremely challenging efforts.”

Avi Blaiberg making his way through the wilderness of RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019Avi Blaiberg making his way through the wilderness of RacingThePlanet: New Zealand 2019

The course will certainly challenge both new and returning competitors. “Otherwise this wouldn’t be a RacingThePlanet Ultra,” says Carlos Garcia Prieto, now working on his 13th RacingThePlanet race as Course Director. An architect by trade, Carlos’ talent is a mixture of having an eye for a stunning scenery, a head like a compass, quirkiness for odd details and the physique of a mountain goat. Known for rather unexpected challenges, the course director has earned himself the nickname Jackal. But he has his kind side too: “I think people will love Georgia, the lost roads, ancient fortresses and churches, and the friendly people.”

Carlos aka Jackal, getting to know the local for RacingThePlanet: GeorgiaCarlos aka Jackal, getting to know the local for RacingThePlanet: Georgia

“It is the diverse and remote beauty that attracted RacingThePlanet to select Georgia for the 12th RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon destination." says the Event Director Zeana Haroun.

The Georgian landscape