Spain’s Vicente Garcia Beneito, 36, won the Gobi March 2012, earning his second-straight 4 Deserts victory in a time of 23:12:33. Garcia Beneito, winner of the Atacama Crossing 2012, never once relinquished his lead during the week-long, 250-km race.
In the highly competitive women’s competition, German Anne-Marie Flammersfeld, 31, won her second-straight women’s event, leading the Gobi March 2012 from Stage 1 through the finish line in a time of 27:53:21. Flammersfeld finished fourth overall.
“I am so happy,” said Garcia Beneito, at the finish line at a village school outside of Kashkari. “Some moments were very difficult but it was good I had my wife Mariana here, so it gave me hope. The most difficult day was the first day because the pack was the heaviest. Stage 4 was my favourite, but also the finale was spectacular with all the children. It made me remember my son.”
Flammersfeld was equally thrilled with her achievement.
“I’m feeling great, no pain,” Flammersfeld said. “Just the stomach had some problems. I felt very good during this whole race. The difference from the Atacama Crossing was that there I was running with a lot of people and here I went at my own pace. On my own, I go faster.”
The ninth edition of one of the world’s most popular endurance races was held in the Kashgar region of China’s farwest province of Xinjiang. Of the 160 starters, 145 competitors crossed the finish line.
Said RacingThePlanet CEO and founder Mary Gadams: “I’m extremely proud and impressed of the level of competition in the Gobi March 2012, both with our many former winners and competitors as well as the many competitors making their RacingThePlanet debuts. I would like to congratulate Vicente and Anne-Marie, whose strength and talent were once again on display as they won every stage this week.”
The Gobi March 2012 supported the Esquel-Y.L. Yang Foundation. Since 2005, RacingThePlanet has worked with the foundation to donate sporting equipment and over 8,200 books to schools along the route of the Gobi March.
A truly international event, competitors representing six different nationalities comprised the top-three overall and top-three women.
Second overall was first time 4 Deserts competitor Mo N. Foustok of Saudi Arabia, 30, while third was France’s Philippe Gatta, 33. The strong women’s field saw Canadian Stephanie Case, 29, finish second behind Flammersfeld (11th overall) and Beijing-based Belgian Virginie Goethals, 36, the third-fastest woman (16th overall). The Shanghai-based Team STC, which includes Zhang Ling, 32, Pei Jun, 40, Tina Wailing, 51 and Wei Liang gang, won the team competition.
In total, 42 different nationalities were represented, with a noticeable increase in the number of competitors from China, India, South America and the Middle East, speaking to the global growth of the sport.
Said Hong Kong-based American Robert Hutchinson, who at 70 is the oldest competitor in the Gobi March 2012, as he crossed the finish line: “There is nothing to it.”
For many competitors, the Gobi March 2012 was less about the ranking than about the experience.
“It’s been really emotional,” said Hong Kong-based Briton Emily Woodland, who was the fourth-fastest woman. “It’s not really about the finish line; it’s about the whole week and the people you meet.”
American Pamela Rickard, 50, who is running in support of RunWell, said: “I can’t even describe how I feel right now. I have run in many places but this exceeds all experiences and expectations.”
Indian Arvind Sirohi, 44, who was one of the final competitors to complete the Gobi March 2012 said: “This has been truly a life changing experience.”
About the Gobi March 2012 (10 June – 16 June 2012) www.gobimarch.com
The Gobi March is one of the four races that comprise the world renowned 4 Deserts series of 250-kilometer, rough-country footraces.
The race takes place in China's ancient Gobi Desert in Kashgar.
The Gobi March's challenges include the changes in temperature from the cool highlands to heat of the desert, potential sandstorms and variety of terrain – green fields, rocky tracks, steep hills, ridges and riverbeds with multiple water-crossings.
Competitors must plan carefully to maintain the delicate balance between physical exertion, nutrition and hydration in order to successfully complete the race.
About the 4 Deserts - www.4deserts.com
The 4 Deserts is the world’s leading endurance footrace series, a unique collection of world-class races that take place over 7 days and 250 kilometers in the largest and most forbidding deserts on the planet.
Competitors must go beyond the limits of their physical and mental endurance. Racing self-supported in the most inhospitable climates and formidable landscapes, they 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.
The series, named again by TIME magazine as one of the world’s Top 10 endurance competitions, comprises the Atacama Crossing in Chile, the Gobi March in China, the Sahara Race in Egypt and The Last Desert in Antarctica.