Gobi March (Mongolia) 2023: COURSE DESCRIPTION
The Gobi March (Mongolia) 2023 begins on 18 June at the Khar Bukh Balgas Fortress and takes place in the stunning Karakorum region of Central Mongolia.
Competitors will weave their way across wide Mongolian steppes, sand dunes and great rock valleys as they complete the 250-kilometer / 155-mile course. This also includes vast green grasslands, stupas and temples, and old forests. At times, competitors will sleep in traditional Mongolian Gers. The race makes its way across the battlefield of Genghis Khan towards the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of the Orkhon Valley and further to the ancient city of Karakorum.
More detail on the course can be seen below under the following topics. Final course notes will be given to each person in Mongolia at the competitor check-in before the race.
The map here shows the approximate route of the course.
The host town is Ulaanbaatar which is the capital of Mongolia. The course itself begins 360km / 224 miles west of Ulaanbaatar at the ruined Khar Bukh Balgas. The fortress inhabited by the Kitan from 917 to 1120, is sometimes known as Kitan Balgas.
The Gobi March is an undulating rollercoaster of a ride taking you over every type of terrain and rewarding you with the most stunning landscapes and unique cultures. The course is primarily on tracks, trails and off-road and weaves across grassland, fields, soft sand and dunes, rocky terrain, riverbeds, gravel tracks, river crossings, climbs and descents.
During each stage checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers (6 miles) along the course. ALL checkpoints include water for drinking (normally from a large bottle that you can fill your bottles from), and volunteers to offer support. MOST checkpoints have shade from the elements and medical staff.
At each checkpoint competitors must:
- Be checked-in on arrival by the race staff.
- Leave with the minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section (in general this is 1.5 liters).
- Listen to and adhere to any instructions given by the race staff. This could be related to anything including adverse weather conditions (strong winds, thunderstorms, intense heat), visibility (sand storm, fog etc) or anything else.
At each checkpoint competitors can:
- Rest for a short time and take advantage of the shade the checkpoint tent offers.
- Seek medical advice and minor treatment if appropriate from the medical doctor stationed at each checkpoint.
- Ask details about the distance, terrain and elevation of the next section of the course.
Please note that adverse weather conditions and other factors can result in changes being made to the course.
The much-anticipated long stage in all of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series events is known as The Long March. It covers a distance of approximately 80 kilometers / 50 miles, roughly double the length of the standard stages. The stage follows much the same format as the previous ones with checkpoints located every 10km / 6 miles apart, however there is a designated ‘Overnight Checkpoint’ where there will usually be somewhere to rest / sleep. Here there will be a campfire or stove where hot water will be available to prepare food and make drinks.
A cut-off time is the time by which you must have left a Checkpoint. There are cut-off times for every checkpoint on the course - these are announced in the morning briefing before the start of each Stage. They are designed to help you finish, not to stop you from finishing the race.
While the leaders are extremely fast (finishing 40 kilometers / 26 miles in 3 - 4 hours), the cut-off times for the back of the field are designed based on a 4 km per hour / 2.5 miles per hour walking speed. This means completing a 40 kilometer / 26 mile stage in 10 hours.
Cut-off times for The Long March are based on a similar speed but with additional time allowed for a rest at the Overnight Checkpoint.