Canadian Dentist Wins the 2009 Atacama Crossing
This past week I’ve been focused on the developments of the Marathon des Sables but there was another major endurance running event happening in another continent. One more year, the Atacama Crossing took place for the fifth year in the South American desert between March 29th and April 4th. This is a seven-day, six-stage, 250-kilometer footrace across the Atacama Desert of Chile par tof the 4 Deserts Series. The field contained 85 individuals from 25 countries on six Continents in the range of 23 to 77 years-old. Of those, 18 withdrew and the rest of the athletes completed the distance between 32 and 70 hours.
Mehmet Danis of Canada won this year’s race. The Toronto-based Canadian Forces dentist, who has raised $4,300 for the charity, finished in 31:56 followed by Peter Osterwalder of Switzerland in second place and Javier Velasco Santamaria in third. Fleur Grose of Australia won the women’s division, with Mirjana Pellizzer of Croatia in second and Tracy Simmons of the USA in third. On the teams side, Team Aranda Aventura of Spain crossed the finish line first, with another Spaniard team, Lleidaextrem was second and Andesgear Chile was third. Comlete results for all the participants can be found here.
Top 5 finishers
- Danis Mehmet H. 34, Canada, 31:56:27
- Osterwalder Peter, 43, Switzerland, 32:46:03
- Velasco Santamaria Javier, 49, Spain, 33:23:48
- Goerke Damon M., 35,Australia, 34:08:31
- Versteeg Adam, 31,UK, 35:03:44
More than 10,000 liters of water were transported to support the racers. The water was stashed in the small pueblo of San Pedro de Atacama to equip up to 30 checkpoints with enough water over the seven day event. In the Atacama Crossing each individual must carry all his or her own gear, food and clothing in a backpack and the only assistance provided is water, tents and medical assistance. Then, in each of the 30 checkpoints, usually 15 miles apart, 1.5 liters of water are distributed to each competitor. Checkpoints are also equipped with a minimum of two volunteers and a medical doctor.
The race has also quite some technology support. Satellite technology is used in areas that have no cell phone or GPRS towers, providing broadband capabilities and allowing Internet access to the organization and participants. This allows the race to have full web coverage. Twitter updates , short daily news , blogs the competitors update during the event and life results, together with the ability of family and friends to send emails to racers they can daily check in the cybertent, equipped with 20 Intel aidstation laptops.
To anyone who succeeds in completing the Atacama Crossing, a specially designed medal made in Malaysia is presented at the finish line in the Town Square of San Pedro de Atacama.
A few facts for this year’s event, from the offcial website:
Twenty five countries will be represented in the Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2009.
The youngest competitor is Matthew J. Bradley of the United Kingdom at 23 and the eldest is Laurence J. Brophy of Wales at 77 years old. Laurie will become the oldest to have completed a 4 Deserts event.
Eighty-one percent (81%) of the competitors are male; 19% are female.
The first-ever competitor from mainland China, 29-year-old Yumeng Liu, will be competing.
Six continents will be represented: Asia, Africa, Australia/New Zealand, North America, South America and Europe.
The largest contingent of competitors hails from the United Kingdom with 13, followed by the United States with 12. Spain is fielding its largest contingent ever with 10.
Three teams are competing including the Gobi March 2008 champion team, Team Aranda Aventura of Spain. The other teams include Team Lleidaextrem also of Spain, and Team Andesgear / Chile.
Medical Director, Grant Lipman, M.D., of Stanford University will be working his fourth 4 Deserts event. The medical team will be conducting medical research.
A production crew from Austria will be producing a Red Bull film centered around Christian Schiester of Austria, who plans to compete in four RacingThePlanet events over the next 24 months.
Carlos Dias of Brazil, sponsored by Crocs, will be competing to complete the 4 Deserts series having competed recently in The Last Desert in Antarctica. Carlos will become the first from Brazil to complete the 4 Deserts and the 53rd in the world to hold the 4 Deserts medal.
Special tents have been handmade and shipped from Egypt to house competitors in the Atacama Crossing 2009.
The day time temperatures expected are 32 Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) while night time temperatures may drop to 16 Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) or lower.