(30 November 2012, Ushuaia, Argentina)—The Last Desert (Antarctica) 2012 has proved to be a momentous race in 4 Deserts racing history. When the fifth edition of the event came to a close in the snowy setting of Danko Island yesterday, new records were being forged in all directions.
Anne-Marie Flammersfeld of Germany emerged as the first woman to ever win all four events in the 4 Deserts series—and not only that, she did it all in one year. “My objective was the 4 Deserts Grand Slam,” explains the 34-year old fitness trainer and sports scientist who is based in Switzerland. “I started training mid-2011. The Atacama Crossing was my first ultra ever and it was all about the first experience… It was really only after the Sahara Race that I knew I could do this.”
There was also a remarkable victory for overall race winner, Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito. The Spanish racer came to Antarctica having already won each of the 4 Deserts races in 2012, including the Atacama Crossing (Chile), the Gobi March (China) and Sahara Race (Egypt). By winning The Last Desert (Antarctica), he joins Ryan Sandes as the only other person to have been champion of every race in the 4 Deserts series—but Beneito has taken it up a notch by winning them all in one calendar year for the first time.
“I’m really happy, this is a dream come true,” said the Spaniard. “This was the hardest race for me, I really had to focus. The terrain was a challenge, also the unpredictability of the conditions and weather. It was also hard because the Sahara Race was so close. I have had a problem in my foot, the tendons have been inflamed.”
Germany’s Michael Brehe took second overall position, powering through every stage with a deft ability to race across snow and ice. Anne-Marie Flammersfeld was third overall winner and Japan’s Hidechika Kadasawa came in fourth position. In the women’s division, two great athletes tied as second-placed females: Nahila Hernandez San Juan of Mexico and Australia’s Sandy Suckling.
In the team’s division, yet more staggering feats took place in the snow: The winning team, JDRF Born to Run, became the first team to complete all 4 Desert races—and again, they did it all in 2012. The group consists of Australians Jess Baker, Roger Hanney, Ron Schwabel and father and son Greg and Matt Donovan. Their experience was dedicated to raising awareness and funding for Type 1 diabetes research.
“We feel so relieved,” said Greg Donovan. “So much time and effort has gone into planning. With a team of five, so much can go wrong and as a team there is a greater chance of failure then taking part as individuals. Now, it’s time to celebrate.”
The Last Desert began on November 24th on King Georges Island and saw 49 competitors from 27 countries set out across up to 200-kilometers in the only multi-stage event to take place on the Antarctic continent. They raced in varying weather conditions over several days, from sunlit skies to snow flurries and from deep snow to bare cliffs.