Updates from stages 1 & 2 of the Atacama Crossing 2011

Updates from stages 1 & 2 of the Atacama Crossing 2011

110 competitors from 40 countries had gathered at San Pedro de Atacama for the Atacama Crossing 2011.

After various briefings and the kit check competitors were taken to the first camp.

“The course is looking good,” added Ryan Bennett, a course team member. “Yesterday we marked towards the end of the course. It’s absolutely stunning, something you don’t normally get to see.”

Stage 1 Update:

Stage 1 of the Atacama Crossing 2011 is known as ‘Navigation by Rock’, with some difficult, undulating terrain over loose and soft ground. It is a 35.2km high altitude course that ranges from 3,263m (10,670ft) down to 2,627m (8,617ft).

Danish competitor Anders Jensen (29), the champion of the Sahara Race 2010, lead throughout the day and was first to finish. In second place was Chilean racer Martin Chincilla Gioa (24), a university student in Santiago who had earned 30th place in the Atacama Crossing 2010. America’s George Chmiel (30) came in third.

The women’s division was equally competitive with Mexico’s Nahila Hernandez San Juan (36) reaching the finish line in first place, followed extremely closely by the British competitor Sophie Collett (26). The two had run together for much of the day.

There were two withdrawals today, Stephan Holliger (44) of Switzerland, part of team Swiss Mountain Runners and Zhou Fan (33) of China. One competitor, Youssef Khater (32) was handed a 30 minute penalty today for losing his race bib. The last two competitors to cross the finish line, Wanda Summers (35) and Austine Rawllins (35) of the United States, came in as the sun was setting and a strong wind had built up, blowing the finish line flags in all directions as the entire camp erupted in applause.

Stage 2 Update:

Stage 2, named Slot Canyons is a longer stage at 41.8km (26.0 miles). The course leads competitors through river canyons, water crossings, across loose rocks and sand, and over almost 800m of elevation gains and losses.

Denmark’s Anders Jensen (29) sustained his lead in the second day of the Atacama Crossing 2011, narrowly defeating Martin N. Chinchilla Gioa (24) of Chile. United Kingdom’s Ian D. Holdcraft (36) followed swiftly behind in third position.

The leaders in the women’s field also retained their places, with Mexico’s Nahila Hernandez San Juan (36) crossing the finish line first and Sophie Collett (26) of the UK in a close second. Angelique Tostee (34), a business analyst and avid endurance athlete from South Africa, earned third position.

The competitors were unanimous in praising the day’s stunning array of scenery. “Today was amazing,” said America’s Scott McMurtrey (33). “The river going through the canyons was gorgeous. I thought that was going to be the highlight of the day until I got to the ridge with the spectacular views.”

It was, however, by no means an easy day, with 14 competitors withdrawing from the field. The last competitor who made the cut-off time of 2pm at Checkpoint 2 was Austine Rawlins. The rest of the course offered more moderate road and off-road loose rock on sand, and the final competitor to arrive at camp was Kumi Murakami (61) of Japan.

The competitors are now at a camp alongside the stunning salt lake Salar de Atacama – mentally preparing to head into what many agree is the most challenging stage of the race tomorrow, the salt flats of the famed ‘Atacamenos Trail’.

Men’s results

Name Stage 1 Stage 2 Total
1 Jensen Anders 03:51:23 05:42:40 09:34:03
2 Chinchilla Gioia Martin 04:01:33 05:46:59 09:48:32
3 Chmiel Jr. George 04:03:11 05:50:43 09:53:54


Women’s results

Name Stage 1 Stage 2 Total
1 Hernandez San Juan Nahila 04:56:13 06:46:34 11:42:47
2 Collett Sophie 04:56:40 06:51:17 11:47:57
3 Tostee Angelique 05:20:47 07:05:14 12:26:01


Source: http://www.run247.com/articles/article-1111-atacama-crossing—chile.html


The Atacama Crossing 2011

The Atacama Crossing 2011

As the sun set over the pre-race day in the Chilean desert, we caught up two of the top contenders for this year’s Atacama Crossing – the Danish runner Anders Jensen and America’s George Chmiel.

Both racers have put in impressive performances in previous races, with Anders earning first place in the Sahara Race 2010. “I was glad the race was over,” he says. “But it went quite some time before I really realized I won the race. I remember I was searching on the RacingThePlanet past results and then my name among Ray Zahab, Ryan Sandes and Jimmi Olsen, then I realized what I’d done!”

It may have taken a while for the news to sink in, but the Singapore-based athlete has been quick to make sure he has had ideal training conditions for the Atacama Crossing. The Dane has combined midweek speed workouts and five-to-eight hour runs on the weekends, with core training in the gym. And then, two weeks ago he got on a plane and flew to South America to train in altitudes of 4,000 meters on the Bolivian border.

Anders shared this time in Bolivia with another strong contender, Youssef Khater. “I’ve been talking to him and training with him on the Bolivian border and he looks very strong!” he warns.

Despite his advantage of training in high altitudes, Anders says that there has nonetheless been a strong sense of nervous anticipation looming with the Atacama Crossing. “For me, everything will be difficult,” he predicts. “The altitude, the terrain, the hills, the cold nights and to get a victory! Everyone I’ve talked to says that this is the absolutely toughest race of the 4 Deserts, and I can only imagine after I have been training here for two weeks.”

American competitor George Chmiel hasn’t had the advantage of training in Chile and Bolivia before the race, but he has been sleeping in an altitude tent in his home in Massachusetts. The 30-year old has also been undertaking a lot of speed work, high intensity and burst training, strength training and Pilates. “I have also just run a marathon on Sunday in a snowstorm at sea level,” he says with a laugh. “A totally opposite experience!”

George is another experienced 4 Deserts athlete who, when he looks back at his experience in the Sahara Race 2010 and RacingThePlanet:  Australia, says: “After the last stage [of both events] I swore I’d never do this again. I just collapsed and was shaking. But already the next day I was ready for it again.”

He says it’s the thrill of testing one’s body against the elements, pushing oneself mentally and physically, and also the appeal of fundraising for his goddaughter Lucy who suffers from panhypopit (a growth hormone deficiency) that is continually pushing him forward.

But like Anders, it was a sense of the unknown that filled his mind the night before the Atacama Crossing unfolded.

“The Sahara Race was nice, nothing unexpected,” he says. “Here there are more unknowns, the heat, terrain, altitude…. I have conflicting emotions,” he admits. “On the one hand eager and energized, on the other hand nervous about the unknowns.”

Both men knew that all was needed, was for them to stop thinking and start running, to get out there and – as we are now watching – let the event unfold in all of its challenging euphoria.

Source: http://www.4deserts.com/atacamacrossing/rtpactp.php?SBID=FAR_271