10 November 2010, (Hong Kong): On 17 November 2010, 56 competitors representing 22 nations will board the polar expedition ship, Antarctic Dream, in the Argentinean port of Ushuaia for The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010, the final and ultimate race in the iconic 4 Deserts series of 250km, self-supported, rough-country foot races.
The 2010 event, the fourth edition of the invitation-only race boasts the most competitive field to date. Ultrarunning superstar Ryan Sandes (28) of South Africa and Sahara Race 2009 champion Paolo Barghini (50) of Italy start as favourites for the race title, in a field that includes five other competitors who have finished in the top 10 in at least one other 4 Deserts event.
In the women’s category, Mirjana Pellizzer (47) of Croatia who placed second in the Gobi March 2008, Sahara Race 2008 and Atacama Crossing 2009, and Diana Hogan-Murphy (33) of Ireland who won the Gobi March 2009 and placed third in the Atacama Crossing 2010 are expected to lead the charge.
The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 also represents the final challenge in a year-long campaign for 9 competitors still hoping to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam.
A total of 14 competitors set out from the start line of the Atacama Crossing in March this year with the intention of going on to complete the entire 1000km of the 4 Deserts in one year.
Of the 9 competitors who remain on target, all three women – Linda Quirk (57) of the United States, Lucy Rivers-Bulkeley (33) of the United Kingdom and Samantha Gash (26) of Australia – who began the campaign, are still in the race to become the first woman ever to complete the Grand Slam.
Two competitors are going still one step further and intend to complete all 1250km of RacingThePlanet’s events this year: the 4 Deserts series plus the annual roving race. Stan Lee (50) of Canada and Peter Jong (35) of Australia have so far completed the Atacama Crossing (Chile), the Gobi March (China), the Sahara Race (Egypt) and RacingThePlanet: Australia 2010. No athlete has ever completed this feat before.
About The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2010 – www.thelastdesert.com
The Last Desert (Antarctica) is held every two years and forms the final race of the iconic 4 Deserts series. Competitors must complete a minimum of two of the other 4 Deserts events to be invited to participate in the race. The event is a 250km, self-supported foot race with competitors having to carry a mandatory list of equipment, nutrition and water on each stage. The race uses a polar expedition ship as its base, traveling to the different course locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and offshore islands based on the prevailing sea and weather conditions, with competitors transferred from ship to shore by special zodiacs.
The unique challenges of The Last Desert (Antarctica) include having to cope with the severity of the weather conditions that can include gale-force blizzards and temperatures down to -20°C (4°F). Competitors also have to deal with the unpredictability of daily stage lengths and start-times, as the prevailing environmental conditions dictate where and when stages might begin.