On 21 June 2020, competitors from all walks of life and from all four corners of the globe will begin a grueling yet unforgettable trek across 250 kilometres of some of the world’s most historic wilderness. Battling extreme temperatures, strong winds, driving rain, beautiful sunshine, and unforgiving terrain, RacingThePlanet’s Gobi March (Mongolia) is designed to test even the most experienced of runners and hikers. Part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series, it features ancient history and culture, and takes place on the green grasslands of nomads. With more than 6 marathons in 7 days, the race begins from the ancient ruins of Khar Bukh Balgas, and finishes at the Erdene Zuu Monastery, located in Karakorum, the former capital of Genghis Khan’s empire.
The start of the Gobi March (Mongolia) 2019, part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series, organised by RacingThePlanet
The course itself is located in the Karakorum region of Central Mongolia winding its way through vast green grasslands, stupas and temples, sand dunes, great rock valleys and old forests. ‘The Long March’, the much anticipated 80 km stage, will take you through wide Mongolian steppes as you make your way towards the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape.
While the ultramarathon may make some of us weak at the knees, it’s fair to say that most runners are capable of completing one.
STUNNING SCENERY AND NEW FRIENDS
For many, signing up for an ultramarathon is not simply to conquer a crazy distance, but to meet like-minded people and travel to a place you wouldn’t necessarily have thought to go. RacingThePlanet ultras are typically held on vast trails and, unlike many road races, the monotony can be quickly forgotten at the sight of great rocky valleys or towering sand dunes.
“So immense is the scale of this place it is as if the very concepts of distance and time are meaningless. There are no fences. You could run an infinite distance and yet not move.”
- Ashley Burke, GM19 finisher, Australia.
IT’S YOUR RACE AND YOUR PACE!
Only a very small percentage of those competing in an ultra-race will run the entire course. Many runners will jog, and for most there’s no running at all.
4 Deserts Club member, Qing Zhou (Eva)
Marco Vola almost at the top of ‘The Vertical Climb’ at the start of Stage 3
“When we were scrambling up the hill, a racer from UK was pretty apprehensive about the climb because he is afraid of heights. So Zhaojie and I guided him and helped him finish the scary segment. We talked football. Turns out he’s a SPURS fan! When I told him we are ARSENAL fans he said, “Oh no, I was saved by 2 ARSENAL fans!” WAHAHA!!”
- Alex Tan, Gobi March 2019 finisher, Singapore
MORE MENTAL THAN PHYSICAL
The ultramarathon really is a test of mental strength as much as it is physical fitness. ‘The Long March’ which usually takes place during Stage 5, will test even the most seasoned of athletes. It’s approximately 80km, depending on location, terrain, and weather conditions – step by step, always moving forwards. It’s all about getting from one checkpoint to the next.
For many, ‘The Long March’ will continue through the night…
…and well into the following day. The strength of determination is truly inspiring.
“I have dedicated so much of my time and focus towards that finish line and it was more than worth it... it truly is such an inexplicable feeling to accomplish the Gobi March and be surrounded by the support of incredible people who also constantly challenge themselves.”
- Lisa Bourgogne, Gobi March 2019 finisher, New Zealand
No matter how much training you’ve done, you’ll question whether it’s enough... there’ll always be that one person who has done more than you! And even the least competitive person will want to do well. But once you see just how fun it can be out there on the battlefield, you’ll only crave more!
Competitor husband Marco Vola and volunteer wife Gina Forgia of Italy
Competitor Simon Melanson of Canada and his wife and 2 daughters cross the finish line
“I received my Gobi medal with its bright red ribbon. The weight felt good around my neck. And then, the elusive 4 Deserts Club medal, with the black ribbon. I had only seen it once before, in Antarctica. To rousing applause, in the living room of the Mongol Empire, I became the 166th person on the planet to join the 4 Deserts Club.”
- Simon Melanson, Gobi March 2019 finisher, Canada
RacingThePlanet now offers a ‘Friends & Family Experience’. Through this, like Simon above, you can have your nearest and dearest cheer you over the finish line or, if they wish, run the last stage of the race with you… experience is everything.
If you’d like to know more about the 2020 edition of the Gobi March (Mongolia) and how to sign up, please contact [email protected] or head straight to the website www.racingtheplanet.com where you can easily register - there’s still plenty of time to join us. Go on, what are you waiting for?