Thursday, July 14, 2011

Planning for the Gobi March 2007

On June 17th, I'll be competing in another epic adventure...The Gobi March...a 6-stage, 150 mile self-supported foot race through the Gobi Desert in northwest China. By self-supported, I mean that everything needed for a week (clothing, food, sleeping bag, first-aid, etc), except for water and a tent, must be carried for the entire time. The Gobi is the largest cold winter desert in the world, that stretches throughout 500,000 square miles of China and Mongolia. That fact is a bit misleading since we can expect temps to top 100 degrees during the day and dip below freezing at night.

The journey will begin in remote Kashgar, China along the highest paved international road in the world, the famous Karakoram Highway. It connects China to Pakistan through the Khunjerab Pass at 15,397 feet (by far the highest paved international border crossing in the world). The race will begin within a stone's throw of Pakistan and Tajikistan (also nearby are the "stan" countries...Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan) The terrain will be a mix of snow capped mountains (the 1st few days of running will be over 8,000 feet and topping out at 12,400 feet), rocks, grasslands, salt flats, rivers, and of course sand dunes. Even though the Gobi contains less sand than the Sahara, we can, at times, still expect 1,000-foot high dunes!! We can also expect to see some of the most stunning and remote scenery in the world....and when we're not staring at our own feet slogging along, we will even catch a glimpse of K2, the 2nd highest mountain in the world.

Our campsite on one night of the race, will be spent in a village where we'll be able to interact with the local Tajik people, an experience that few outsiders would ever get. One of the reasons I love these types of challenges is not just the obvious physical test, but to visit a remote region that few people will ever see with their own eyes, and to meet far away people, that you might only see from your TV screen. This will surely be a once in a lifetime cultural experience as well as a brutal physical and mental challenge!!!

Our progress can be followed at

Frank Fumich

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