Seven days, two hundred and fifty kilometers, one winner. The Sahara race that takes place in Jordan this year from sixteen to twenty two February is one of the toughest endurances races on the planet. Runners age range between forty two and fifty five years and each runner’s human spirit is tested when taking part of this grueling run.
The Sahara Race is one of four races that make up the world famous 4 Deserts Race series. This race stretches along two hundred and fifty kilometers. During this race, competitors run across four distinct deserts namely the Wadi Rum, Kharaza, Humaima and Wadi Araba. The finish line is in Petra, one of the new wonders of the world.
Runners make their way through sand dunes, dirt and rock tracks, grass and sand. They navigate river beds, canyons, local villages and valleys with locals cheering them on. With the race’s international media exposure, it brings hordes of visitors to the country to cheer, support and assist the runners in this event that pushes them to reach the extremes in the sport of outdoor running. What is even more challenging is that each runner carries his own equipment and food. The only thing provided during the race is drinking water and a tent to sleep in during the night.
The reigning desert champion is Daniel Rowland and this year even Olympians will be part of the runners from all over the world. Rowland finished the previous race in little over twenty two hours which was a new course record at the time. Another runner, native to Jordan, is Al Agra. Being used to running on the sandy terrain of Jordan perhaps gives him the competitive advantage. He has been running since he was twelve years old and has finished the Sahara race a total of seven times.
The 4 Desert Series has twice been named Time Magazine’s top ten endurance competitions and comprises of the Sahara Desert in Jordan, the Atacama Crossing in Jordan, the Gobi March in China and the last desert being Antarctica. Only twenty eight runners have completed it with Dean Karnanzes being the first to ever start and finish the race. The race lasts an entire year. Runners go above and beyond their physical and mental endurance through the climate and landscapes of these four places.
It is quite an honorable prostitution in which the Jordanian nationals can find themselves having the Wadi Rum and UNESCO World Heritage site Petra being part of such an international event. Visitors who travel to the country to support the race will definitely be able to experience the culture and wondrous sites of Jordan.