Gobi mental strain worse than physical exhaustion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 June, 2008, 12:00am

Though much of the Gobi March's 250km challenge is physical, competitors need to endure an even greater mental strain throughout the six-stage event.

The competitors, including 40 from or based in Hong Kong, must carry all their own supplies and food while trekking through rocky terrain and an area organisers have dubbed 'Fast Track to Heaven' as after a big opening in a mountain, there is a 3,000 metre drop. Water is supplied, but under the strict instruction that it is not to be used for any washing. But three competitors will get perhaps the greatest luxury of all during the race, a hot shower, as the race organisers are auctioning off hot showers to raise funds for the earthquake victims in Sichuan.

'Usually, no one gets a shower for seven days, but the winning bidders will choose a competitor and after the fourth stage, we'll take them to a local home and they'll get a nice shower and clean up,' Racing the Planet director Mary Gadams said. 'Given our strong ties with China we had to do something.'

With initial bids at US$1,000, Gadams said she hoped more money could be raised, either among family or friends or through corporate bidding.

Though many of the 171 competitors are already raising funds for various charities, including 11 competitors in Hong Kong who are raising money for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation, Gadams said many competitors wanted to do something specifically for the earthquake victims.

US competitor Dean Karnazes said his sponsor, North Face, agreed to match whatever funds he raised and Swedish adventure racer Kenneth 'Tintin' Johansson said he wanted to help as well.

'I will try to raise some money for the earthquake and I'll definitely bring something,' Johansson said. 'I am talking to my sponsors and to some other people and I'll try to raise something.' In addition to the hot showers, Gadams is also asking people to purchase one of 1,000 Frisbees for US$25 each, with all proceeds going to either Save the Children or Oxfam.