Spanish double Olympian Jose Manuel ‘Chema’ Martinez Fernandez of Spain and British racer Emily Woodland came across the finish line of the Atacama Crossing 2014, earning gold medals for their efforts and bringing the 10th edition of the 250km footrace to a triumphant close.

His third race in the 4 Deserts Race Series, Fernandez also won gold in the Gobi March (China), and crossed the finish line of the 250km course through Chile’s spectacular Atacama Desert with an overall time of 25 hours 57 minutes 58 seconds. The Spaniard now looks ahead to complete his very first 4 Deserts Grand Slam (all 4 Deserts races in 1 calendar year) with The Last Desert in Antarctica, his final race in the series in November.

“I feel good,”

said the 42-year-old as he arrived at the finish line in the town of San Pedro de Atacama.

“This race was harder than the other deserts so far, cold at night and hot in the day, and every day there was a surprise. But it was the most special to me and it was my favourite, I think because I enjoyed the moment; the running, the camp, the people.”

Emily Woodland won the women’s division, impressing all with her fast time of 34 hours 18 minutes 39 seconds. The British competitor came in as the 5th overall competitor, proving herself a force to be reckoned with.

Photo Credit: 4 Deserts Race Series

Inspirational Stories Emerge from this Gruelling 250km Footrace

The 10th edition of the Atacama Crossing featured a total of 161 competitors from 36 countries. The stunning landscape of the Atacama Desert in Chile proved once again to be a challenging race for its variable temperatures, varied terrain and high altitudes.

There were inspiring stories emerging throughout the 6 stage, 7 day course through the desert’s otherworldly lunar landscape, with many competitors raising money for charities and pushing themselves beyond their physical and mental limits. A blind athlete, Vladmi dos Santos, who works closely with Brazil’s Paralympic Committee, was taking on his third 4 Deserts race here after winning the Spirit Award at the Atacama Crossing in 2013. He was guided during the race by the American firefighter Erin Leighty.

Atacama Crossing Takes Place in a Stunning but Brutal Landscape

The Atacama Crossing is 1 of the 4 races that comprise the world renowned 4 Deserts Series of endurance footraces, a unique collection of world-class races that take place over 7 days and 250km in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet.

The series, named again by TIME magazine as one of the world’s Top 10 endurance competitions, comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, Gobi March in China, Sahara Race in Egypt/Jordan and The Last Desert in Antarctica.

Atacama Crossing takes place in Chile’s stunning but brutal Atacama Desert, which is the largest cold coastal desert and the driest place on Earth — 50 times more arid than California’s Death Valley! The Atacama is a rainless plateau hemmed in between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes and is a unique landscape of salt lakes, volcanoes, lava flows and sand dunes that challenge even the best runners.

Atacama Crossing is gruelling not only because of the forbidding terrain, which is rarely flat underfoot, and harsh climate, but also because of the altitude that averages 2,500m during the race.

Photo Credit: 4 Deserts Race Series

Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and formidable landscapes, competitors must carry all their own equipment and food, and are only provided with drinking water and a place in a tent each night to rest.

If you find that surmounting your physical limits in hostile inhospitable terrain to be your thing, the Atacama Crossing will be your ultimate challenge of a lifetime!

The Atacama Crossing takes place on 4 October 2015. Race package for individuals are priced at US$3,600 (S$4,644) which includes international staff and medical support throughout the event, finisher’s medal, official event t-shirt or jacket, and more.

The RunSociety Team

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