At a glance

Location Atacama Desert, Chile
Happening in: October
Race categories: Ultramarathon
Next on: October 1st, 2016
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Atacama Crossing
The race

The Atacama Desert is recognized as the driest place on earth - it is 50 times more arid than California's Death Valley. This desiccated environment is the perfect preserver of ancient relics, with the world's oldest mummies (of the Paleolithic Chinchorro tribe), having been discovered in the Atacama, thought to date back to 7000BC. Huge geoglyphic paintings adorn hillsides and ruins of Indian fortresses and sacred Inca sites dot the landscape.

The course of the Atacama Crossing takes competitors across a wide variety of terrains and includes approximately 1,683 meters (5,521 feet) of ascents and 2,508 meters (8,228 feet) of descents over the 7-day race. Starting at just below 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) in the Arcoiris Valley, the race gradually descends over the six stages to finish in the pretty town of San Pedro de Atacama at an elevation of 2,400 meters (7,900 feet).

Competitors will tackle sand-dunes, river crossings, gravel, loose rocks, hard packed earth and even waist high grass during the event. This is in addition to the infamous salt flats that even the most dexterous of runners find nearly impossible to cross at full-speed. The fastest finish time on any Atacama Crossing course is held by Vicente Garcia Beneito of Spain with an overall time of 23 hours and 46 minutes in 2012.

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