Is this a stage race, like Racing the Planet’s Gobi March?
No, it is not. There are no stages. Every 30km there is a rest station where you have a drop off bag and can sleep, but you don’t have to stay there, you can run straight though.
I have done stage races, is this easier or harder?
Non-stop is much harder. Psychologically and physically.
Do I have to carry all my equipment and food?
No, you carry a lot less than in most stage races. You carry mandatory gear, but your food can be stashed in the drop-off bags at rest stations. You can also store extra clothes and gear at the drop off- stations.
Do I have to carry a lot of water?
No, there are water stations roughly every 10 – 12 kilometres.
Where do I sleep?
You can sleep for an hour at a checkpoint/water station (every 10km) or as long as you wish at a rest station, on a mat, in your sleeping bag.
How much should I sleep?
This is up to you. You must meet the overall cut-off time of 149 hours, but sleep strategy is up to you. The winner of 2016 Ultra Gobi slept for 5 hours out of 92 that it took him. Some people have spent 12 hours or longer at rest stations.
Do rest stations have electricity? Can I charge up my GPS / music player / phone?
Yes, there is electricity, and electricity outlets are available for runners to charge up their equipment (bring cables).
Do I need to use a map and compass?
No, you must get a hand-held GPS unit and follow the course race track which also includes all the rest stations and water stations.
Is it easy to get lost?
If you spend some time and learn the functions of your hand held GPS, navigation is very easy and you will not get lost. People who got lost before did not learn how to use their GPS properly.
Can use GPS on my phone?
No, phone-based GPS is not allowed. You will not be allowed to start unless you have a working hand-held GPS unit.
Is there a trail?
For large sections of the course there is no trail whatsoever.
Is navigation difficult?
No, it is all very open terrain and in the course is long straight lines across the desert. There are some sections of small canyons where the navigation becomes slightly harder.
What happens if I get horribly lost?
You are unlikely to get very lost, but if you do, stay calm, and follow your GPS back to the course. Always trust your GPS, and learn how to use it properly.
We track all the runners live from our Control Center and we can see, in real time, if someone is deviating too much from the course. We shall send out a search party from the nearest patrol vehicle or rest station if the runner is going too far off course.
You also have a satellite phone and can call the organisers’ emergency number for help.
Terrain / Weather
Is terrain difficult? There is not much elevation gain / loss.
This race does not have much elevation, gain / loss, but the terrain is extremely difficult – uneven, with very sharp rocks, small gullies, and in places with bushes with sharp branches. Sharp rocks destroy your feet, so wear padded shoes!
Is it all sand, like Marathon de Sables?
No, Gobi is a rocky desert. Terrain is very hard, you do not sink in.
Is it going to be brutally hot?
It can get hot, but not excessively hot. Nights can be very cold, well below zero. Weather changes quickly and a snow storm come out of nowhere.
Is traveling in China dangerous?
No, China is a very safe destination. There is no violent crime towards foreigners, no muggings or assaults, you can travel around in complete safety. It is also safe for women to travel.
Should I be afraid of the police in China?
No. The police are there to help you.
Are there dangerous animals on the race course?
No. None at all. This area has no wolves, bears, leopards or tigers.
Are there snakes and poisonous invertebrates, like spiders?
Very few, you are unlikely to see any, especially this close to the onset of winter.
Are there mosquitos?
No, as there is very little water for them to breed.
Travel to China
How long does it take to the race course from Beijing?
Flying to Dunhuang, the nearest city to race start, takes around 5 hours.
Can I pay in dollars / euros in China?
No. Only Chinese yuan is accepted.
Can I use my credit card / debit cards?
You can use Visa and Mastercard to withdraw cash at most cashpoints in China. In smaller cities, like Dunhuang, foreign credit cards are not accepted at supermarkets and shops.
Do I need visa for China?
What type of plug China uses?
Voltage in Mainland China is 220V, 50 Hz. A variety of electrical outlets can be found in China.
Training and Strategy
What strategy is best for this race?
This race is not a test of speed. On the contrary, you must go barely above walking pace, taking frequent breaks, saving every bit of energy. Going off fast will catch up with you and you will have to pay for the energy you wasted. Control your natural instinct to run faster at the start. Remember that the race was done in over 90 hours by the winner in 2016 and that’s almost 4 days!
How should I train for this race?
This race is not about speed work, but about going slow for hours and hours. Remember – you will also have a backpack. Train by doing very long slow runs with a back pack, aiming for high milage. (BUT be careful raising your milage too much, it is easy to get injured, add miles gradually!)
Runner – specific strength work in the gym twice or three times a week will benefit you greatly.