This year several elite runners from the USA, UK, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Denmark have been invited to Ultra Gobi. All these runners are amongst the world’s best over extreme distances.
Isis Breiter (Mexico) – Salomon, GU
Isis Breiter, known as “running mom”, started running late, but she did very well, becoming 4 Deserts champion out of the blue, then came second in the 522km The Track race in Australia and also won the 217km race in Burkina Faso in Africa. She is a star in her home country of Mexico and brings glamour and style to every race she takes part in.
Simon Grimstrup (Denmark) – Compressport
Simon is a no-nonsense athlete, a tough Scandinavian known as The Barbarian. Very low key, he is averse to self-publicity, but his record speaks for itself: he did UTMB in 25 hours and won a host of races across the world, including the 230km Jungle Ultra in Peru and Vietnam Mountain Marathon. Simon works as a physics teacher and an outdoor instructor at a boarding school in Denmark, but is taking this year off to race, train and pursue his own outdoor projects.
Vicente Juan Garcia (Spain) – Wild Wolf
Vicente, who works in rescue and fire services in Spain, won the 4 Desert series without dropping a stage in 2012, and is a veritable monster over super long distances. Amongst his major scalps are wins at The Track (522km) in Australia and Grand to Grand in the USA. Vicente is coming to Ultra Gobi with only one aim – to win.
Nathan Montague (UK) – XNRG, Beta Running, SkechersUK
Nathan is one of Britain’s top ultra-runners, and has been grabbing wins and smashing course records in UK ultras over the past two years. A PE teacher at a secondary school, he comes from elite track background, having run in the national 3000m steeplechase final. Nathan was twice national UK national trail running champion (2011 and 2014), runner up in the UK national 50km road championships, and was voted UK ultra-runner of the year in 2014. This will be Nathan’s second time racing in China, in 2016 he was runner – up in the Mt Gaoligong Ultra, an extremely tough 100mile race on the border with Myanmar. Nathan, who is one of the nicest people you are likely to meet, is a battle hardened, uncompromising competitor coming to the Gobi to win.
Marta Poretti (Italy)
Marta is an all-round outdoor athlete – she is an elite mountain runner, with a host of wins in Europe, an elite ski mountaineer and mountain biker, a competitive horse rider, and has also competed in European orienteering championships and has won many an adventure race. She has also done many ironmans and triathlons, placing very well. Marta works in finance but, in her own words, all she wants to do is run and ski. She is descending from her beloved mountains (she is a great technical runner) to the Gobi and her toughness, endurance and outdoor and navigational skills make her a contender to take the top honours in Ultra Gobi this year.
William Macmillan (UK)
William received the invitation to Ultra Gobi as the first non-Nepali runner in our partner race – Manaslu Trail Race in Nepal. William, from Northern Ireland, is a great ultra-distance athlete – he has come 2nd in Global Limits Bhutan 250km stage race, 2nd in both Hangman Ultra and Brecon Beacons Ultra in the UK and 4th in Race to the Stones. Very low – key, refusing to call himself and elite athlete, William nevertheless is known as much for being a fearsome competitor, as he is for his dry sense of humour.
Nicola Bassi (Italy)
Nicola is an all-round elite mountain and endurance athlete – he is a climber, skier and mountain runner, and has represented and tested the equipment for Dynafit, Vibram, Salewa and The North Face. In 2016 he scored three wins in European trail races – coming first in Prealba Winter Trail (51km), 6h Pastrengo (66km) and La Grande Corsa Bianca (142km). Nicola brings a running pedigree and a wealth of outdoor experience to Ultra Gobi and will also cover the race in Italian media.
Michael Wardian (USA) – Hoka
It is an honour for us to have Michael Wardian, 2010 World Ultra Runner of the Year, participate in 2017 Ultra Gobi. Michael has a 2:17 marathon PB and has competed in the USA Olympic marathon trials; he has also been USA champion at 50 miles road, 50 miles trail, 50k road and 100km road, runner – up at World 100k Road Championships and is a two-time World Bronze Medallist at 50k road. He has won many major marathons including Rock & Roll National Marathon, Delaware Marathon, San Francisco Marathon and Big Sur Marathon and placed third at both Marathon de Sables and Badwater. This year he won World Marathon Challenge, with seven marathons held on seven days on seven continents, coming first in every stage.
Dan Lawson (UK) – Raidlight
Dan, 2015 UK Ultra Runner of the Year, was very successful on his previous trip to China – winning Mt. Gaoligong 100 mile Ultra in Yunnan Province. The 42 year-old Englishman is ideally suited for the colossal distance and non-stop running that Ultra Gobi is – to mention just two of his running achievements, in 2016 he came second in 246km Spartathlon and was also crowned European 24-hour champion. Dan also holds the world record for seven days on a treadmill – he clocked an astonishing 840km.
Alfie Pearce-Higgins (UK)
Alfie, an English adventurer and journalist, came to last year’s Ultra Gobi as media, with no other expectations than hoping to finish the race. A sub three hour marathoner with great ultra experience, he ran as much with his head as he did with his feet – Alfie quickly realized that Ultra Gobi was about consistency, saving energy and learning how to use your GPS effectively. He finished in a close second place, hampered by an unfortunate injury. Alfie’s eloquent interviews made him a celebrity in China, and this year we are proud to have the adventurer back at Ultra Gobi – his knowledge of the course and tactical maturity put him in contention for the top honours in 2017.
Samantha Chan (Hong Kong) Hoka, Newline
Hong Kong’s Samantha Chan likes to call herself an “ordinary Hong Kong girl, not a serious runner” but her running pedigree speaks for itself: Samantha is a former record-breaking elite track schoolgirl athlete, and has recently been steadily building up her trail and ultra-running CV. Her best results include a recent win in 100km race in Kanas, Xinjiang, a third-place finish in Trailwalker, first place mixed team in Translantau, 9th in Hong Kong 100, and 10th in North Face 100 Hong Kong, as well as many wins and podium finishes in smaller races. Samantha is no stranger to racing in deserts – she completed the 2015 Marathon des Sables, coming in 21st place.