The Atacama Crossing 2013 concluded with 132 competitors crossing the finish line, including a cancer survivor, two blind men, and two women living with diabetes.
Daniel Rowland of Zimbabwe vied with Australia’s Vlad Ixel to snag first place. The two men sprinted to the finish line within seconds of each other in multiple stages. In the end, Daniel edged Vlad out with a total time of 25 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds.
“It’s been amazing”, said Daniel. “Tough but beautiful. I came to improve on my time from last year, so to beat my time from last year and to win was great.”
Vlad finished in 26:16:41. Following him were Craig Willment of South Africa, Andrea Girardi of Italy, Kyle McCoy of the United States, Adam Woolliscroft of Wales, Rick Braff of the United States, Hye Chang Rhim of South Korea, Nelson Sepulveda of Chile on his home turf, and Richard Bray of the United Kingdom.
Rebecca Pattinson of the United Kingdom won first place among the women with a total time of 34:50:43. “The whole environment just lifts you up,” said Rebecca, who is the women’s champion. “I have never felt emotions like that and I don’t think I ever will again. Everyone keeps asking me what next, well I think quit while you are ahead!”
Luisa Balsamo of Italy followed in second place with 35:24:14. Rounding out the top ten among the women were Annabel Hepworth of Australia, Beatriz Camiade of Mexico, Sabina Bacinelli of Italy, Amanda de Kock of South Africa, Yvonne Abson of Scotland, Vikki Bester of Australia, Andrea Lopez of Chile on her home turf, and Lisa Cox of the United States.
Yosuke Kurosawa, Shinya Sasaki and Hirofumi Ono of Japan won the team championship as Team Kizuna. “We came here to win,” they said. “We always help each other. Sometimes we fight, but we think of each other and accept each other. This is why we came.”
In addition to these champions, the Atacama Crossing 2013 hosted many other notable competitors. Jisung (Jesse) Yoo of South Korea has now completed 19 RacingThePlanet/4 Deserts events, more than anyone in the world. Iranian competitor Ashkan Mokhtari is coming back to the Atacama for the fifth time in as many years. He has completed 12 RacingThePlanet / 4 Deserts events overall.
Keijiro Hamada of Japan and Vladmi do Santos of Brazil are both blind, but made it across 250 kilometres of mud, salt flats, and sand dunes with the help of guides.
“My heart is strong,” said Vladmi dos Santos from Brazil, who is blind. He described seeing the race not with his eyes, but with his heart. “I am very happy. I have made friends with all the competitors. The people see me as a normal person, not blind.”
Jim Willett of Canada battled colon cancer in 2010, and has now completed two 4 Deserts events. “The highs, the lows, the connection I have with RacingThePlanet [after] all I have been through, words can not explain,” Jim said.
The next 4 Deserts event is the Gobi March 2013, beginning 2 June and going through 8 June.