This is the toughest and most dangerous challenge that anyone has embarked on for the Fine & Country Foundation to date. The Gobi March, organised by 4Deserts, is a seven day, 141 mile (227km) footrace across Asia’s largest desert. The race begins on Sunday 18 June and ends of Saturday 24 June. There are six stages to the race, the details of which will be revealed on the day of each stage.
Matthew Pryke, a trustee of the Fine & Country Foundation, is our brave challenger who has flown to China to push himself to the limit on the biggest adventure of his life. Matthew is not averse to tough experiences; he attempted the Shoreseeker Challenge in 2016 and risked life and limb for the Foundation. Sadly, his 312 mile ocean rowing challenge was interrupted 150 miles in by the worst cyclone the Mediterranean has encountered in almost 50 years.
The six stages of the Gobi March will vary in both weather and terrain. The competitors will race across soft sand dunes, river crossings, forest and goat trails and open plains. Blistering heat of around 40°C on the open plains, and potential for single figure temperatures in the sand dunes will test every ounce of the contestants’ physical and mental strength.
Matthew is raising money for the Fine & Country Foundation to reduce homelessness on local, national and international levels. Support him here.
Day 1 update
Stage 1 was 17 miles (27km), the shortest distance of all the six stages. Matthew has emailed us and said, "A big thank you for all your support. I have had a hard, but manageable day. We climbed the Barkhol Sand Dune today and then ran through a lot more sand throughout the day." The competitors ran in altitudes of over 2,000m (6,500ft). He finished 23rd place in four hours 19 minutes so he is very pleased with Stage 1. Into the mountains tomorrow!
Day 2 update
Stage 2 was 21 miles (34km) and involved running to the the highest point of the race with a climb of over 1,200 metres (3,937ft), higher than Mount Snowdon. This was no gradual ascent however, 600 metres (1,968ft) of the race almost vertical climbing. Thankfully, Matthew found the cool temperatures suited him and he was in 10th place at the peak of the climb. The treacherous route down caused Matthew to fall three times, but no harm was done. Matthew was especially pleased that he missed the downpour which unfortunately many of the competitors were caught in. He was able to finish Stage 2 at 13th place. We will keep you updated on tomorrow's events!
Don't forget to support Matthew here.
Day 3 update
The endurance is starting to take its toll on our brave competitor. Matthew has been taping his feet and staying positive throughout the 25 miles (40km) that he endured today. Matthew said, "What we hoped would be a flatter stage was actually quite hilly, with another 900m ascent. On the positive side, the temperatures stayed a nice 30-35 degrees with a much needed breeze throughout the day". Completing the day in just 05:52:53 we are all incredibly proud. Here is some of the beautiful scenery they ran through today:
Day 4 update
Matthew did incredibly well today, completing the 27 miles (44km) in 19th position, boosting his overall rank to 14th place. Tomorrow is a rest day for the competitors as they prepare for the 'Long March' on Friday. We are delighted to announce that Matthew has raised over £1,600 so far for homelessness. To support Matthew please click here.
Day 5 update
Rest and recuperation day! Time to rest those feet, sleep, eat and take in the sites. They have enjoyed bread and melon, which may not sound like a treat, but after four days of freeze-dried meals and processed snacks the competitors couldn't be happier with simple fresh treats. Tomorrow they are doing the 'Long March'. 51 miles (82km) through the Black Gobi in 40C/ 100F heat. Donate here to show your support and help the fight to reduce homelessness.
Day 6 update
After their rest day yesterday, the competitors completed Stage 5 today. There was a mandatory three hour break for the runners to get out of the sun as temperatures climbed to 47 degrees. Matthew went on to complete the 50 miles (82km) in just 13 hours 41 minutes. The final participants arrived 29 hours after setting off. Amazing work Matthew! Sponsor Matthew here.
Day 7 update
The final day was just a short victory lap of 3 miles (5km) to celebrate the competitors' incredible achievement. It was an emotional finish for everyone involved. They packed their belongings for the final time and made their way to the Hami Hotel for a much needed shower, meal and rest. Matthew came 18th place overall and we couldn't be prouder of him.
Sponsor Matthew here
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