South African athlete Ryan Sandes has claimed his sixth RacingThePlanet win in the tropical setting of Madagascar this weekend, completing the seventh edition of the Roving Race with a time of 22:46:42.
“It was a really great race,” said Sandes. “The only unfortunate thing was when I missed the checkpoint on the long day. But today [the final 10 kilometers] was great. I got to run with [Japanese competitor Watru] Iino and I was really relaxed.”
In 2010, Sandes became the first person in history to win all of the races in the 4 Deserts Race Series—propelling him into a much-heralded career as a professional athlete. He returned to the series in 2011 when the Roving Race moved to Nepal where he also won gold.
Coming in second place, just under 25 minutes behind Sandes, was newcomer Wataru Iino. The 34-year-old car engineer from Japan completed the course with a time of 23:09:59—impressing the entire field with his effortless racing. American competitor Ralph Crowley took the bronze medal, the young athlete finished with an overall time of 26:47:05.
This year’s Roving Race has seen a record-breaking number of female competitors, and the race champion in the women’s division was Japan’s Maki Izuchi Suban. She completed the course with an overall time of 32:35:38—coming in 15th position overall.
“The first few days was very beautiful with the beach, the Tsingy and all the scenery,” Izuchi Suban said. “By the third day I was so tired, but I still enjoyed it.”
The second-placed woman, also hailing from Japan, was Mayumi Watanabe who finished the week with a time of 33:41:52 and 18th overall ranking.
This year’s Roving Race took place in Madagascar, which proved to be a stunning setting for the event.
“Madagascar is an amazing country and we were delighted to be able to showcase some of its highlights to competitors representing 43 countries around the world,” said President of Events Samantha Fanshawe.
“By traversing the northern tip of the island on foot, they were able to not only see the many kilometers of pristine white sand beaches, a Baobab forest, the red Tsingy canyon and massive expanse of grey Tsingy, but also to experience first hand the colorful everyday life of the Malagasy people with their music, farming and friendly welcomes.
“It was also an honor to welcome back professional athlete Ryan Sandes to the race and exciting to see the tough competition he faced with newcomer Wataru Iino from Japan and the progress made by talented young athlete Ralph Crowley. This year also saw tremendous racing in the women’s division, with Maki Izuchi Suban putting in a very strong performance.”