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FIREPOT in the Sahara
Olivia Lee rounds up the world’s toughest desert ultramarathons for 2017

This April, FIREPOT food arrived in the Sahara Desert, sponsoring paratroopers Andrew Stewart and Paul Carr as they took part in the Marathon Des Sables, one of the toughest races on earth. This six-day event saw competitors face temperatures of over 40 degrees, crossing sand so fine it makes running almost impossible. Though the Marathon Des Sables is over for another year, there are still plenty of opportunities in 2017 to experience desert running at its best — or worst. From the salt flats of Chile to the mountain plains of the Gobi Desert in China, read on if you’re up for an ultra challenge.

The Track, Australia - May 17th
The Track cuts through the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, which is one of the driest places on earth, second only to Antarctica. This self-supported outback ultramarthon kicks off in Alice Springs, where temperatures can soar to around 40 degrees. Set across nine stages and 10 days, the route crosses 320 miles of baked red sand, finishing at the foot of the sandstone monolith Uluru, or Ayers rock.

Gobi March, China - June 18th
The Gobi March ultramarathon, part of the well-known 4Deserts Race series, takes place in China’s Xinjiang province, racing through 155 miles of Asia’s largest desert, the Gobi. Following the ancient Silk Road, the course ascends over 10,000ft, through cool mountain trails, past dried-up riverbeds and yurt villages, and through deserts with rolling golden sand dunes and temperatures of up to 40 degrees.

Badwater, California USA - July 10th
The Badwater ultramarathon is one of the toughest there is. In the hottest month of the year, this 135-mile route twists through Death Valley, the hottest spot in the US. On top of this, the trail leads you from the lowest point in the country, 280ft below sea level, to the base of the highest, gaining over 14,000ft of elevation and crossing three mountain ranges.

Hardrock 100, Colorado USA - July 14th
The 100-mile Hardrock route, which must be completed in 48 hours, crosses 13 mountain passes, each over 12,000ft in altitude, with the highest point at over 14,000ft. You’ll have to run through the night to make it in time, combining freezing temperatures with altitude sickness and almost vertical terrain. You are above the treeline for most of the course, so lightning and freak storms are a common occurrence.

The Grand to Grand Ultra, Utah and Arizona USA - September 24th
The 170-mile self-supported Grand to Grand ultramarathon cuts through the Utah and Arizona desert, one of the most remote places in North America. Starting at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the route crosses red rock valleys and high desert plains — places even cacti can’t grow. Participant numbers are limited to 170, so early reservation is recommended.

Atacama Crossing, Chile - October 1st
The 155-mile Atacama Crossing takes you to one of the most curious natural wonders in the world; the salt flats of Chile. The race starts at 10,550ft in the Arcoiris Valley, surrounded by 44 snow-capped volcanoes. Descending past sand dunes, rivers, waist-high grass and lunar-like landscapes, the Atacama Crossing finishes in the pretty town of San Pedro de Atacama, amid geysers and natural hot springs. It is part of the 4Deserts Race series.

If you’re taking part in an ultramarathon this year, contact us for sponsorship opportunities.