Showing posts with label Gobi Desert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gobi Desert. Show all posts

Monday, July 29, 2013

Expedition Gobi Update: Ray Completes Gobi Crossing!

There was good news from the Gobi Desert this weekend as ultrarunner Ray Zahab has successfully completed Expedition Gobi, his 2300 km (1430 mile) crossing of the desert on foot. It took him 34 days to complete the journey, averaging nearly 68 km (42 miles) per day during that time.

As with any expedition of this nature, the run included a number of major challenges. For instance, when he first set out, Ray was running with Kevin Lin, a fellow ultrarunner from Taiwan. Kevin was hampered by injuries however and eventually had to abandon his attempt at crossing the Gobi. That forced Ray to carry on by himself, which required a great deal of mental toughness. Covering all of those miles on a daily basis is tough enough, but to do it mostly by yourself is even more difficult.

The terrain in the Gobi certainly lived up to its billing, particularly near the end. Ray ran through all kinds of varying conditions along the way, but his final days were often spent running up and down massive sand dunes. Those conditions made it tough going in those last few days, but with a little help from some local military officials, Ray and his support team were able to find a faster and more efficient route to get them through the final leg.

The team is now en route back to Ulaanbataar, a journey that will take three days to complete in a 4x4 vehicle. That alone should tell you how remote the Gobi is and how difficult the conditions there are. Despite all of those miles and challenging environments, our intrepid runner managed to complete the expedition without a single blister, which is an impressive accomplishment on its own.

Ray can now add the Gobi to his growing list of deserts that he has run across. Previously the Canadian adventurer has also run across the Sahara and Atacama Deserts, as well traveled to the South Pole and across Death Valley on foot. Not bad for a guy who use to smoke a pack of cigarettes per day.

Congrats Ray! Well done once again!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Expedition Gobi Update: Toughest Leg Yet To Come

Ray Zahab has been in the Gobi Desert for a month now as he continues his attempt to run through that massive and demanding environment. When he's done, he hopes to have covered 2300 km (1430 miles) in approximately 35 total days, averaging roughly 70 km (43.5 miles) per day. Along the way, he has been interacting with the locals that inhabit the Gobi and learning about the effects of desertification on their lives and homeland. As is typical with one of Ray's expedition's, he is also sharing those insights and experiences with classrooms around the globe.

Yesterday was a rest day for Ray and his support team as they prepare for their final leg of this journey. With just 320 km (198 miles) left to run, the toughest challenges may still lay ahead. The route will now take our intrepid ultrarunner into one of the most desolate and difficult regions of the Gobi yet. A region that is seldom visited and largely unexplored. So much so, that Ray says that the team will share their video with the Mongolian government to help them understand the environment he'll be running through much better.

As he enters the stretch run, Ray is planning on reach the finish line this coming weekend. It won't be easy however as this next segment is incredibly dry, warm and utterly devoid of places to resupply. They are leaving the last settlements behind as they move into this "No Man's Land." Over the next few days, they'll have to rely on themselves and the supplies they've brought along to see them through to the end.

Stay tuned for updates and check out the video below to see what Ray has been dealing with on his run so far. The Gobi looks incredible but I'm not sure I'd want to run for 35 days across it.

Expedition Gobi - Khongoryn Els (Singing Sands) from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Expedition Gobi Update: 20 Days In And Challenges Ahead

No one ever said running across a desert would be easy, but ultrarunner Ray Zahab seems to have a way of making it look that way. In the past, he has run across the Sahara and the Atacama Deserts, as well as skied to the South Pole in record time. Now he's taking on the Gobi and three weeks in he's having an amazing experience, although some of the toughest days are still ahead.

When he set out back on June 23, Ray estimated that it would take approximately 35 days to complete the run, covering about 70 km (43.5 miles) per day. He's done a good job of hitting those distances so far despite some difficult conditions at times, while also finding time to connect with the locals who call the Gobi home. He was suppose to be running alongside fellow-ultrarunner Kevin Lin, but Kevin has been nagged with injuries almost from the start, so Ray has been doing most of the miles by himself, something that probably makes all of his interactions with the Mongolians all the more special.

What is a typical day running the Gobi like for Ray? Check out the video below to get an idea. Don't let the green, lush looking environment fool you however, as this is still a dry desert that can be very demanding. In the next few days, Ray will move into some very large sand dunes, which will add a new challenge to his efforts. Hitting those 70 km goals on a daily basis could become a much more difficult prospect.

Stay tuned for more updates as Ray continues this journey on foot through the Gobi. He still has a couple of more weeks to go until he's done, so plenty of running yet to be completed.

Expedition Gobi - No Language Barrier from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Expedition Gobi: The Magic Of Running

Ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin are continuing their journey across the Gobi Desert and are now a little over a week into their run. So far they've been pretty diligent about hitting their average of 70 km (43.4 miles) per day, although they have taken some liberties here and there to enjoy some interaction with the locals and absorb the Mongolian culture. The plan is to cover 2300 km (1430 miles) in just 35 days and to do that they must maintain a steady pace.

Beyond the adventure of simply running across one of the largest deserts on the planet, the point of Expedition Gobi is to learn about life in the desert and share that experience with others. With that in mind, Ray and company are taking every chance they can get to connect with those who live in that environment. The video below is a great example of that as a young man joins the team for a portion of a run and a personal bond is formed even though neither runner speaks the others language.

While Ray continues to knock off the miles, his partner Kevin remains hobbled a bit with an injury that has prevented him from running as much as he would like. He seems to be recovering however, although he continues to limit his mileage while he works himself back into the groove. With more than three weeks to go until they wrap up their adventure, he still has plenty of opportunities to add up the mileage and they haven't even gotten to the most difficult stages just yet.

Follow Ray and Kevin's progress at

Expedition Gobi - The Magic of Running from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Video: Running Across The Gobi

Earlier this week I noted that ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin had begun their attempt to run across the Gobi Desert. They are hoping to average around 70km (43.4 miles) per day, for 35 days, in order to cross the 2300km (1430 mile) expanse of the Gobi at its widest point.That is quite an undertaking to say the least and if you've ever wondered what it is like to attempt such a long run, take a look at the video below to get an idea of what conditions are like out on the trail. This was shot on Day 2, so the terrain still looks relatively green and lush, but as they go along, it is likely to change dramatically.

This first week of running hasn't been without its challenges. Kevin has already suffered an injury to his one of his legs and has had to take some time off. Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon and he can rejoin Ray on the run. With five days down, they still have a month to go!

Expedition Gobi - Day 2 70Km from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Expedition Gobi: Ray And Kevin Are Off And Running

Yesterday, ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin began their 2300 km (1430 mile) trek across the Gobi Desert. The two men, who once ran the length of the Sahara together, hope to spend the next 35 days running an average of 65 km (40 miles) per day. Along the way they'll face remote and difficult terrain, extremely dry conditions and a host of other physical and mental challenges.

One of the biggest obstacles to their success is simply the logistics of being resupplied. Because the Gobi is so remote and lacking in infrastructure, Ray and Kevin's support team will have very few opportunities to provide them with fresh water along the way. They expect to receive just one supply drop each day, which isn't much considering the locations they are traveling through.

On their first day out, the two endurance athletes were able to cover 61 km (38 miles). That's not too bad for what these guys call a "warm-up." The video below gives you an idea what the start of their journey was like and we can look forward to similar videos moving forward as they continue the run.

You can follow Ray and Kevin's adventure at or on Facebook and Twitter. I'll be thinking of these guys tonight on my run, which will be a mere five miles.

Expedition Gobi - Day 1 61 Km from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ultrarunners Set To Run Across The Gobi Desert

Ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin, who once teamed up to run across the Sahara together, are collaborating once again on another desert crossing. This time the two men will take on the remote and foreboding Gobi in an attempt to cover 2300 km (1430 miles) in just 35 days.

Ray and Kevin plan to run between 70-80 km (43-50 miles) per day on this epic journey through the Gobi. They will have a support team with them helping to provide the water they'll need to keep moving, but due to the remote and rugged nature of the region, they'll only be able to receive one or two resupplies each day. That means they'll need to carry plenty of water with that at all times as it will be uncertain as to when they'll be able to get more.

While crossing the Gobi, the team will also interact with the Mongolian people who still make their home in that wild place. They hope to learn from about the effects of desertification from these tough and resilient people, who are seeing its effects first hand. Ray, Kevin and the rest of the squad will share those experiences, as well as insights into life in the desert, with youth groups back home via satellite broadcasts. The hope is to educate and inspire those young people following along with a healthy dose of adventure.

The plan is for the run to actually begin on Sunday, June 23. Ray is leaving from Canada for Mongolia today and he'll connect with Kevin, who will be coming from Taiwan, later in the week. They'll spend the time leading up to start of the expedition by organizing gear, resting their bodies from the travel and acclimatizing somewhat to the climate. After that, it'll be full steam ahead for 35 days. You'll be able to follow their progress on the Expedition Gobi website, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck Kevin and Ray!

World Expedition Gobi Trailer from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Video: Expedition Gobi Teaser Trailer

In June, ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Ferg Hawke will travel to the Gobi Desert where they will attempt to run more than 2300 km (1430 miles) through one of the most demanding environments on the planet. They plan to cover roughly 70 km (43.5 miles) per day while a support team tries to keep them supplied with plenty of food and water to keep them going, something that will be a logistical challenge to say the least.

In preparation for the start of the run, which is still a month off, the team released the teaser video below. It serves the dual purpose of both inspiring us to pursue our own adventures while also giving us a glimpse of the challenges the runners will face along the way. This will certainly be a challenging endeavor for Ray and Ferg and fascinating for the rest of us to follow.

World Expedition Gobi Trailer from GOi2P on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Expedition Gobi: Running 2000km Across The Gobi Desert

Covering nearly 1.3 million sq. kilometers (500,000 sq. miles) in central Asia, the Gobi is one of the largest deserts on the planet. Its arid climate and trademark rock formations make it a difficult and demanding place, even for the hardiest of explorers. Naturally those challenges give the desert an allure that is hard for many adventurers to resist and in June of this year, two men will set out to attempt to run across the Gobi at its widest point.

The newly announced Expedition Gobi will send endurance athletes Ray Zahab and Ferg Hawk on a 2000 km (1242 mile) journey through the heart of the desert. The two men are busy preparing for their run which will see them covering approximately 70 km (43.5 miles) per day in one of the harshest environments on the planet. The expedition will be supported although the Gobi presents some logistical challenges that will likely only allow for one or two resupply points each day. That means other than getting fresh water from time to time, Ray and Ferg will mostly need to be completely self-sufficient while out on the trail.

Both Ray and Ferg are part of the impossible2Possible team which means they will weave an educational element into this great adventure. In this case, as they run across the Gobi, they'll interact with the people who have learned to make the desert their home. The Mongolian people have lived in the Gobi for centuries and have adapted well to the harsh living conditions there. They'll teach the two runners about desertification and in turn, those lessons will be shared with students in classrooms around the globe. As global climate change continues to have an impact on our planet, desertification becomes a bigger issue and something that we should all be familiar with.

No firm start date for Expedition Gobi has been announced yet, but more details on the run will be released soon. With just two months to go until the start of June, this is already shaping up to be another great adventure to follow this summer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Video: Where The Trail Ends Gobi Highlights

A few weeks ago I posted a trailer for a spectacular looking mountain biking film called Where The Trail Ends. The movie follows several top riders as they head out to ride their bikes in some of the most remote destinations on the planet. Today I have a video of highlight clips of the riders taking on some impressive singletrack (if you can even call it that) in the Gobi Desert. Definitely not a ride for beginners.

I was intrigued with this film when I saw the trailer and these clips are even more interesting yet. I'm looking forward to tracking down this one down when it comes out in September.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 Gobi March Begins This Weekend

This weekend is turning out to be a good one for endurance athletes. Not only do we have an exceptional adventure race in Colorado and the Western States 100 in California, halfway around the world another group of ultrarunners are preparing to set out on the 2011 edition of the Gobi March, a 250km (155 mile) trek through the Gobi Desert.

The annual race, which is part of the 4 Deserts series of ultramarathons, is set to be another grueling affair this year. Race officials were out on the course yesterday and reported that temperatures were around 42ºC (107ºF) and conditions are expected to remain warm after the race gets underway on Sunday.

At the moment, the competitors are all arriving at the Turpan Basin, a remote region of China that is known to be very dry and hot. This year's route will take them through Aydingkol Lake, which sits 155 meters (508 feet) below sea level and is the farthest point from any ocean on the planet. This year there are 152 athletes, from 30 countries, taking part in the Gobi March. Over the course of the six stages and seven days of racing, they'll be completely self supported while out on the course.

One of the competitors in the 2011 Gobi March is a friend of mine. His name is Wouter Kingma and he'll be taking part in his first ever ultra-event, although he has run plenty of marathons in the past. Wouter is a well known and respected professional photographer who has often attending these kinds of events in a official capacity to take photographs, but this time he'll be on the other side of the lens. He is running to raise money for the ABC Children's Aid Uganda, an organization that works hard to help children in Uganda who are orphaned due to AIDS/HIV or armed conflict.

I want to wish Wouter and all the competitors good luck in this fantastic event.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The 2010 Gobi March Begins This Weekend!

The 2010 edition of the Gobi March is set to get underway this weekend, with more than 150 ultra-runners from around the globe descending on Urumqi, China to begin a week long stage race through the grueling environment of the Gobi Desert. 

The Gobi March is part of Racing The Planet's 4 Deserts series of ultramarathons. This one takes place in far western China in the city-oasis of Turpan, in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Each day will mark a stage of the race, with runners setting out in the morning carrying the supplies they will need for the day. The weather is traditionally quite warm, and dry, as you might expect from a desert race, and back in 2005, it actually reached 122ºF on one of the stages. 

At the end of each stage, the competitors will rest for the night in a tent city that is constructed for them by the race organizers. They'll have food, water and shelter while there, but once they hit the trail, it is up to them to make their way between checkpoints carrying their own gear and navigating through the open desert. The top competitors will finish the all six stages in a combined time of roughly 25 hours, but the bulk of the pack will be much further back than that. Day in and day out, this can be quite a difficult event, as the participants are essentially running nearly a marathon each day, in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gobi March 2009: The Long March is in Progress!

Today is Day 5 of the Gobi March, the stage race ultramarathon that started last Sunday in Gazi Village in the Xinjiang Province of China and will continue into this weekend, with competitors crossing the Gobi Desert on foot.

The race has moved into its fifth stage, the infamous Long March, which is nearly 80km (50 miles) in length, and stretches out over two days. According to the Gobi March website, some of the racers have reached a temporary, over-night camp, and have elected to stay there for the rest of the evening, while others will continue racing well into the night, hoping to reach the stage finish line early tomorrow, where they'll rest up for the final stage, which is a short 10km (6.3 mile) run through the Old City in Kashgar on Saturday. That portion of the town is scheduled to be demolished, and will no longer exist by the end of the year.

Heading into today's grueling stage, American Eric LaHaie holds down the top spot in the race overall, with a 1 hour and 15 minute lead over France's Carol Riel. Sean Abbot of the U.S. is in third, with Wei Weichao of China and Shane O`Rourke of Ireland in fourth and fifth place respectively. Diana Hogan-Murphy, also of Ireland, is currently running in 16th place overall and is the top female competitor heading into the Long March.

Racing through the Gobi, like all the 4 Deserts Marathons, is a demanding experience to say the least. The landscape is dominated by exposed rock more than sand and dunes, and the temperature can swing dramatically between day and night. The region gets less than 8 inches of rain in a year, and the Gobi stretches in all directions, covering more than 500,000 square miles, making it the second largest desert on Earth behind the Sahara.

All of that said, I'd still love to be there! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kiting Across Mongolia's Gobi Desert

Brother and sister team Eric and Sarah McNair Landry are 30 days into an epic expedition that has them kiting across the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Dubbed the Pittarak Expedition, the plan is to go from Altay in Western Mongolia, and head east to Saynshand.

I'm a bit late in joining this expedition, but they have been posting updates to their blog for the past month, and now roughly three days from reaching their goal. Eric and Sarah have been using three wheeled buggies and large kites to catch the wind and pull them across the open expanses of the Gobi. Of course, the siblings have honed those skills with a lot of time spent in the Arctic, where they have extensive experience, even at the ages of 22 and 20.

In their most recent blog update, they note that they have covered roughly 40km each of the past few days, and with just three days to go until they wrap up the journey, they still have to cover 130km to reach Saynshand. In that same entry, they report that spirits are low, and they are in desperate need of good winds to help them along, but so far they are being buffeted with headwinds instead. Without wind, they are dragging their buggies, and gear behind them, and making slow progress to say the least.

Lets hope they get the wind they need. Sounds like they are a bit low on supplies and are desperately in need of getting to the finish line. Seems like a cool expedition, and I'm bummed that I haven't been following it more closely. Better late than never though, right? :)

Thanks to ExWeb for the story on this.