50K Gobi Desert Ultra-marathon

After a very exiting weekend in the Gobi desert I’m on the way home now to recover for 3 days. On Thursday I have to travel again. The Guizhou100 run is waiting for me in a few days. But this is a different story, probably the next one.

Now i want talk a little bit about my successful run in the cold Gobi desert at the beginning of the wintertime. IMG_6362I joined this race together with several people from all over the world; Foreigners located in China like me. I shared the room with Santi, a  young spanish runner from Hangzhou, running addicted as me to show up at all these crazy running events around the country and share his adventures with the world on FB and YouTube. Check out his great YT videos and give him some credits. We knew each other already a year, but just from Facebook. Finally we met in Gobi desert. 🙂

After breakfast we prepared our gear and Shuttle buses brought us around 20km away from Jiuquan to the desert. IMG_6335I got some gaiters some days before the race and also used duct tape to seal my shoes. The organizer did a great job in the desert and built a little tent village. The race start was planned for 9AM but there is always something going wrong. This time a bus full of runners had a delay so the race was postponed to 10AM. The whole bunch of runners had to wait another hour at the start point at -2degC.

But the guys from Kenya came up with a kind of funny circle dance. So we had real big fun dancing an African rain dance in Chinese Gobi desert and that kept us warm and soon it went 10AM.

IMG_1092Made some photos at the start line with other foreign running friends who lives in China, then the gunfire came and off we went into the desert. It was for everyone in our group the first time to run in a desert and after the race everybody said, it was much harder than expected. So did I. IMG_6396The first 4km was a kind of a gravel road, but then the deser came up with the real sand thing. What a torturous run in this terrain. The lose sand swallow all the energy you put in your steps. Crawling up sand dunes might be funny, but in a race, when time is running and the cut-off-time is chasing you, it is not so nice anymore. What I really liked was the downhill runs in the sand. In the mountains I have a downhill phobia, which makes me really slow downwards the mountains, but here in the desert it was a big fun.

But I also was here to learn. And I learned my lesson about running shoes in a desert run. I was wearing my Salomon X-lab Sense, which are great shoes on every mountain run. But they have some Goretex holes in the sole for breathing and normal dirt cannot go inside. Also the shoe material is made by a kind of mesh what makes these shoes very comfortable. But the sand here is so fine, it comes into the shoes from the smallest dot hole. So every 5km I had to stop and let the sand out of my shoes. All sand collected in the front of the shoes, and the feeling was that I wear shoes 2 sizes smaller. Very painful toes was the result.

After a 10km pure sand, the race track always changed between sand, soft gravel road and camel throne bushes. Also the parts which look hard and strong enough let you sunk in 5-10cm on every step. Extremely exhausting!

But after a while I get used to it and I just moved forward. Soon I was more or less alone on the track. And nothing around what let the eye relax. Just brown desert to the horizon and that in a 360deg. round view.

Really strange. There is also nothing else to report about it. At a desert run the first km is similar as the last one. Just endless sand.

IMG_6386I finished this amazing organized event in 5h:46m:34s on rank 47. I came to the race without any expectations, and I’m very impressed how hard this race was.IMG_6387

Later at 7PM there was the award dinner where we had some protein consumption. At the Chinese dinner with a lot of meat I also could chat with the champion of this race. The Kenyan runner finished this run in 3h:30m. These guys must be aliens. Very impressive.IMG_6332

Some rumors around said, that there will be next year also the option for a 100k cruelty run here in Jiuquan. Looking forward to receive an invitation. 🙂IMG_6399

That’s it from Gobi desert. Now beautiful Guizhou is waiting me with one of my all-time-favorite run. Maybe my fellow readers want read my Guizhou100 race report from 2014 until I come back with a new post.

3 thoughts on “50K Gobi Desert Ultra-marathon”

  1. Hi Alex!!
    We’ve met at Guizhou 100 2016 🙂 . And now I’m going to the Gobi 50 k . It’s quite interesting to read your feed back on these races . Getting useful tips as well .
    Thanks a lot!

    Natalka

    Like

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