The Gobi March (Mongolia) is one of the four races that comprise the world renowned 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series of 250-kilometer / 155-mile, six-stage, seven-day, self-supported rough-country, endurance footraces. In 2016, the Gobi March celebrated the 50th race of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series and in 2018, the Gobi March moved to Mongolia!
The Gobi March (Mongolia) is part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series organised by RacingThePlanet. We like to think of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series as its own unique category or genre. The races are ultramarathons but do not fit into the classic definition of an ultramarathon. Instead, we refer to the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series as a series of self-supported rough-country endurance footraces which can be completed by running or walking.
The Gobi March (Mongolia) is a 250-kilometer / 155-mile race which is split up into 6 stages, over 7 days. The approximate format is provided below.
NOTE 1: The distances shown above are approximate.
NOTE 2: Competitors must carry all their own personal gear, food and clothing in a backpack. The only assistance provided to competitors is water for drinking and preparing food (typically freeze-dried meals), tents to sleep in at night and professional medical and operations support.
Deserts are separated into four categories: subtropical, cool coastal, cold winter and polar. Each race in the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series is located in the largest desert of each category, also representing the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on Earth.
The Gobi Desert is the largest cold winter desert. A cold winter desert is created by the rain shadow effect in which a tall mountain range causes warm, moist air to rise and cool. As the air cools, water vapour condenses out and falls as rain or snow, leaving the air dry and creating a desert on the lee (upwind) side of the mountain.
The course for the Gobi March (Mongolia) has been set up to pass through some of the most beautiful, pristine and untouched land on Earth.
You may complete the Gobi March (Mongolia), Atacama Crossing (Chile) and Namib Race (Namibia) at any time. There is no specific order in which you must do the events, and you do not have to complete all three. However, if you are interested in competing in The Last Desert (Antarctica), then you must have successfully completed at least two of the other 4 Deserts in order to qualify.
There is no qualification required to take part in the Gobi March (Mongolia), but competitors must be healthy and maintain a certain level of fitness. All competitors are required to submit a medical form with information on fitness level, a form with emergency contact details and a stamped doctor's certificate two months before the event.
However, the first step to compete in the Gobi March (Mongolia) is to fill out the online registration. Then a deposit then needs to be paid to secure your place.
The typical competitor is a high achiever - someone who believes in maximizing every opportunity in life. Our competitors generally work full time, some have families, many perform community services and all lead healthy lifestyles. Our competitors consist of medical doctors, professors, investment bankers, small business owners, actors, entrepreneurs, journalists, top athletes and coaches, military professionals, managers and stay-at-home moms and dads. We also have parent/child, brother/sister and husband/wife combinations signing up to compete. The races are international with approximately 40 countries represented in each event. When our races first began, we had just a small percentage of women taking part – over the years that figure has risen and it is fantastic that now, over 25% of Gobi March competitors are women.
The event is set up to allow for generous cut-off times. Approximately 20% of competitors will run most of the course, 60% combine running with walking, and 20% will walk the entire course. A competitor who can complete 40 kilometers / 25 miles in 8-10 hours will be able to meet the cut-off times.
Our competitors are busy people – we don't expect them to train all the time, but a minimum amount of training is expected. Some competitors complete the event with minimal effort; others want to win and spend more hours training. Each competitor has his or her own goal. We simply want people to cross the finish line and feel that huge sense of not only relief, but deep satisfaction and achievement.
There are a number of resources available to help people prepare and train for the Gobi March (Mongolia); some of these are listed below:
- Expert articles prepared by doctors, health and sports professionals on a variety of topics related to training, preparation and medical care. All of the articles are available on the RacingThePlanet website and in a special Competitor Area of the Gobi March (Mongolia) website.
- The expert article titled Preparing for a 250km Stage Race is a particularly useful to help get started.
- Competitor blogs are a great way to collect training tips to implement into a personal training plan. The blogs also provide a way for competitors to share questions and advice with one another.
- Example training plans from beginner to advanced – you can ask us for more.
- Contact us for more information or to get connected with other competitors.
RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultramarathons are very popular - some sell out more than one year in advance. We recommend that prospective competitors complete an online registration as early as possible - at least six months before the start of the event. Places are confirmed upon receipt of the deposit payment. Once the event is full, new applications will be added to the waiting list.
The entry fee for the Gobi March (Mongolia) includes almost everything from the arrival at the event hotel on Friday before the start until departure on Sunday after the race conclusion. Specifically, this is:
- International staff and medical support throughout event
- Bottled water for the duration of the event
- Campfire with hot water available for cooking / making warm drinks in the mornings and evenings throughout the 7 days
- Tented accommodation during the race
- Transportation to Camp 1 and from the finish line back to the hotel
- Two nights of hotel accommodation (one night pre-event and one night post-event, double occupancy)
- Pre-race and post-race breakfasts and one pre-race lunch
- Awards Banquet ticket (including dinner, awards presentation and photo slideshow)
- Finisher's medal
- Official event t-shirt or jacket
Additional costs to consider are flights / transport to the event hotel and mandatory equipment.
A fully qualified team of medical doctors from the United States, many of whom have attended a number of RacingThePlanet’s races over the years, work at each event. Most doctors are emergency physicians with affiliations at Stanford University and other reputable medical schools.
During the race, there is a medical doctor at almost all checkpoints (every 10km) to offer assistance and care on the course. There is also a medical tent located at every campsite where competitors can seek medical assistance or advice. Note that this is a self-supported race, so each competitor must bring the mandatory medical items listed in the equipment list but there is no penalty for visiting the medical team.
Competitors must carry ALL mandatory equipment items, including food and electrolytes, at all times during the event. An equipment list with mandatory gear requirements can be found on the equipment page of the Gobi March (Mongolia) website. The equipment list also has a section for optional and recommended gear items.
Failure to have every mandatory item in the quantity required will result in time penalties or you may not be allowed to start the race.
When full, most competitor backpacks range in weight from 7-15 kilograms / 15-33 pounds, with the average backpack weighing 9 kilograms / 20 pounds (without water). Note that the backpack weight will decrease each day as food is eaten and items are used along the course.
At the end of each stage, competitors, volunteers and staff gather in incredible campsites managed by a local camp team. The desert campsites are typically located in spectacular places with clear views of the night-time skies. Competitors sleep in tents of up to ten people and specifically at the Gobi March at times in traditional Mongolian gers. There are also campfires in the mornings and evenings to boil water and cook food.
We provide information on common flight routes and local contacts to help competitors make arrangements to get to the host town / city in Mongolia. We also provide information on staying additional nights at the hotel, airport transfers, domestic flights and other travel arrangements.
The Gobi March (Mongolia) website is updated daily during the event with real time breaking news, stage updates, results, competitor blogs, features, and hundreds of photos and videos. Supporters can follow the event by:
- Visiting the official Gobi March website
- Signing up for Breaking News
- Reading the Gobi March blogs
- Viewing photos and videos
- Becoming a Facebook friend
- Tweeting with us on Twitter
- Emailing a competitor during the event
- Contacting the RacingThePlanet staff to attend the finish line and post-race Awards Banquet
RacingThePlanet typically accepts 16-20 volunteers for the Gobi March (Mongolia) each year. Those interested in volunteering should complete a volunteer application as early as possible – we receive many more applications than we can accept. The volunteer team works hard during the event, but the job is fun and very rewarding – many volunteers return to RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts Ultramarathons year after year.
Each event highlights the most spectacular, unspoiled scenery and indigenous culture in the region with the hope of preserving the culture for generations to come. At the Gobi March (Mongolia), competitors experience the friendship and warmth of the local people, including Mongols and Kazakhs. All ethnic groups have their own unique cultures. Competitors may also experience the traditional Nadaam Festival near the time of the race.
Many say that the best part of the event is meeting other competitors and making new friends from all over the world. Many competitors meet up after the event, stopping to have dinner when passing through another competitor's hometown or getting together regularly for social events. Others choose to register for additional events as teammates. Some competitors have even met their future spouses!
Absolutely – we encourage it. Giving back is one of the primary themes of the 4 Deserts Race Series Mission. Many of our competitors have raised significant amounts of money for charities all over the world. We do what we can to help you promote your chosen charity and there are two expert articles written by past competitors: Why and How You Should Fundraise and Top Ten Steps to Raising Money For Charity.
Life enhancing for all, life changing for many.