RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race Course Description

The course of RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race takes competitors across vast desert terrain beginning in Wadi Rum, passing through Twaissah and the Kharaza Desert until reaching the top of the Wadi Ahaimer canyon. The finish is in the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Competitors will be in in the magnificent Wadi Rum stretching as far as the eye can see, run up and down sand hills, go through ancient canyons, a rock arch and past a camel racing track while under clear night skies filled with a vast array of stars.

The course is varied and you will tackle sand, gravel, loose rocks, hard packed earth and steep dirt tracks with switchbacks.

Each Stage of RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race is unique. Below are some of the highlights competitors can expect to experience while traversing the deserts of Jordan.

  • Stage 1 – Lawrence's Playground will take competitors through Wadi Rum with alternating soft sand with amazing rock formations.
  • Stage 2 – Wadi Rum Rock Formations ensures a true desert and Lawrence of Arabia experience with the ancient Wadi Rum desert, an incredible rock arch high above the desert sand and narrow canyon.
  • Stage 3 – Camel Racing in Twaissah takes competitors through a narrow canyon from the Wadi Rum Desert to the Kharaza Desert. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to possibly catch a camel race in Twaissah
  • Stage 4 – The Rock Bridge will take competitors past a rock arch and through a tunnel before exiting the Kharaza Desert and entering the Humaima Desert towards an area called Wadi Araba.
  • Stage 5 – The Long March will take competitors down into the Wadi Ahaimer canyon for 20 kilometers before entering the Wadi Gharandal Canyon. This begins the climb up an ancient Turkish road to finish just above the ancient city of Petra.
  • Stage 6 – The Final Footsteps into the Ancient Village of Petra.


RacingThePlanet: The 20-Year Race starts in Wadi Rum and finishes in the UNESCO Heritage Site of Petra.


The total distance of the course is 250 kilometers / 156 miles. The distances per stage can be seen below. Note, the Long March on Stage 5 takes place over two days.

   Kilometers / Miles Meters / Feet Meters / Feet
Stage 1 40.7 / 25.3 362 / 1,187 410 / 1,345
Stage 2 35.6 / 22.1 517 / 1,696 379 / 1,243
Stage 3 39.7 / 24.7 324 / 1,063 586 / 1,922
Stage 4 37.5 / 23.3 330 / 1,082 927 / 3,041
Stage 5  88.1 / 54.7 2,282 / 7,485 2,150 / 7,052 
Stage 6 8.0 / 5.0 101 / 331 323 / 1,059
TOTAL 249.6 / 155.1 3,916 / 12,844 4,775 / 15,662

* Stage distances & elevation are subject to minor changes


  • The total elevation gain is approximately 4,083 meters / 13,395 feet over the course of the seven days.
  • The total elevation loss is approximately 4,217 meters / 13,835 feet over the course of the seven days.
  • The elevation of the course undulates between 400 meters / 1,312 feet and 1,700 meters / 5,577 feet.


The course crosses four different deserts over seven days. The terrain varies widely and includes soft sand, rock formations, dust / dirt track, canyons, salt flats and riverbeds.


During each Stage, checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers / 6 miles along the course. All checkpoints include shade, water for drinking (normally in a large bottle with a pump), and volunteers and medical staff to check competitors and offer support.

At each checkpoint competitors must: 

  • Be checked-in on arrival by the race staff.
  • Leave with a minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section (in general this is 1.5 liters).
  • Listen and adhere to any instructions given by race staff. This could be related to anything including adverse weather conditions (strong winds, heat, cold etc.), visibility (rain, fog etc.) or anything else.

At each checkpoint competitors can: 

  • Rest for a short period of time and take advantage of the shade that 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.


  • The Long March is a Stage where competitors complete a longer distance of approximate 80 kilometers / 50 miles which is nearly double the length of the standard Stages.
  • The stage follows the same format as the previous Stages, with checkpoints located every 10 kilometers / 6 miles. However, there is a designated "Overnight Checkpoint" where there will usually be tents to rest / sleep in and also hot water available to prepare a hot meal or hot drinks. Competitors may follow highly reflective tape if required to navigate through the night.


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. The cut-off times 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 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.