Imagine you’ve been dropped off in the middle of one of the largest, driest deserts in the World. Over the next six days you will have to run, jog, walk or crawl 155 miles through the incessant heat (up to 120 degrees), across soft sand and hard-packed gravel, over sand dunes multiple stories high and down razor-sharp rocky cliffs. You must do this carrying everything you need to survive — clothes, food, sunscreen, emergency medical supplies, sleeping bag — in a 20-pound pack on your back.
Now imagine doing this not just once, but four times in one calendar year, through the four most treacherous deserts in the world: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara in Egypt… and then, the final stage, a 150-mile footrace across the single most inhospitable landscape in the world: Antarctica. The race organizers have strategically chosen these four deserts because they are (respectively) the driest, windiest, hottest and coldest places on Earth.
Any single race in RacingThePlanet’s 4Desert Ultramarathon Series is an extraordinary, life-threatening challenge– something we would only expect the most accomplished, elite athletes on the planet to try. But most of the courageous men and women who come from all over the world to compete in these Herculean events are not professional athletes at all, they’re ordinary people—people with families and day jobs and mortgage payments– people like you and me who have decided, for a variety of personal reasons, to take on this extreme physical challenge.
Why do they do it? Are they crazy? Perhaps…
Some have an unquenchable thirst for adventure. Some thrive on competition, the thrill of victory, the fight to win. Some see it as a spiritual journey, a way to connect with nature and the very essence of life itself. Most of these competitors are people who have made the choice to push themselves, both physically and mentally, in order to test the outermost boundaries of what is truly possible for us as human beings. Almost every competitor in these races says, with simple conviction, “If I can do this, then I know I can do anything.” And hey— life is short.
These passionate competitors are the focus of the feature-length documentary Desert Runners. This character-driven story follows a remarkable collection of brave souls on their year-long adventure, racing to the four corners of the Earth. The film includes all of the drama and mirrors all of the elements of the world-class adventure races it documents: challenge and excitement, passion and risk, competition and camaraderie, heartbreak and triumph. Along the way these courageous competitors face the thrill of danger, the heart-wrenching agony of physical pain and mental defeat, and the emotional victory of crossing the finish line, forever changed from the inside out. Desert Runners brings to audiences everywhere the intimate, inside story of what can happen when a group of ordinary people make the life-changing decision to attempt the extraordinary.
This is the official description from the film’s website or IMDb page.
“The engrossing Desert Runners follows several participants in the 4 Deserts Series, a globe-spanning annual lineup of ultramarathon races noted for their extreme conditions and length. While undertaking even one of these brutal endurance tests might seem nuts to the average citizen, Jennifer Steinman’s docu finds vivid human interest in a quartet of diverse protagonists with their sights set on the ‘Grand Slam’ — completing all the races over the course of one year.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“The film effectively balances coverage of the background stories on the runners with footage of races. For those who would never consider running even a single desert stage race, let alone four, it shows, often in very compelling terms, why reasonably sane people choose to do so.” – Emily Wynes, Far North Endurance
Watch the trailer here: