Desk jockey beats deserts challenge

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2006, 12:00am

Antarctic the final hurdle in 1,000km of extreme tests

Derek Kwik Kwok-tsan has gone from humble city desk jockey to one of only 15 men to conquer the world's coldest, highest, hottest and driest deserts.

The venture capitalist last week battled typhoon-strength blizzards and freezing conditions to complete a 250km run through Antarctica.

Successfully finishing the race brings an end to a 1,000km odyssey across the world's harshest environments - and it has brought in more than $500,000 for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The Four Deserts race for charity has taken him across the Sahara in Egypt (the hottest), the Gobi in Mongolia (the highest), the Atacama in Chile (the driest) and finally Antarctica (the coldest).

While he finished outside the placings, the 37-year-old Hongkonger's aim was never about winning the event, but about finishing the challenge.

'The guy that came in first was a military instructor, the guy who came second an anti-terrorist expert,' he said. 'I'm just an ordinary guy from Hong Kong, who works behind a desk during the day and can only train after work and on weekends. For me, the challenge was really about inspiring people.'

Mr Kwik has been amazed by the sights he has witnessed along the way. 'These are things so far from our everyday life in Hong Kong - spectacular sunsets, sunrises over snowcapped volcanos and a chandelier of stars in the sky,' he said yesterday.

The Antarctic leg of the event was the most challenging for Mr Kwik. Before arriving at the frozen wasteland, his coldest experience was sitting in a sub-zero room in a vodka bar in Lan Kwai Fong to acclimatise for the race.

'The weather was so unpredictable. We would have one day where the weather was so bad we could only do 10km but then the next day we would have to do 160km and then follow that by 43km,' he said.

'This really plays on your mind, having to get up in the morning and know what is in front of you.'