*all photos taken by Thiago Diz
Thiago Diz Photography

Nach Stage 5: Rang 21  (76,8km)

First of all, thank you to all of you, who follow my blog, write to me and or think of me.

The long stage was a strange run. First we crossed some of those broccoli fields and out of nowhere my hip started to hurt and cut me short of speed. I dropped back quite a lot and finally decided to take a pain killer. The suffering went on until checkpoint 3. Then as it had come, everything was gone again and I felt extremely strong. As going into checkpoint 3 I had watched a couple from my tent act on a 3/2 strategy. That means 3 flags running, 2 flags walking and then keep the discipline. Well I copied this and it worked out just fine!
The rest of the race was then enjoyable and had some beautiful sceneries. I would like to point out a huge sand dune we scrambled up and the moon valley I entered into, just as the sun was setting. Incredible the colours. And with the last ray of light I crossed the finish line, totally overwhelmed!
Now tomorrow will be our run into San Pedro with the finish line in the middle of town. I looking forward to that.
So this is my last blog as there will be no cybertent any more after we’re back to town.

For all of those who would like to know, yes, the Atacama was the hardest desert I’ve ever crossed. And I’m sticking to my quote:

“If heaven doesn’t have space, nor does hell, the Atacama will take you!”

Take care & I’ll catch up with all of you when I’m back next week.

Nach Stage 4: Rang 23 (40,1km)

08-Oct-2014 02:38:07 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hey again

Today we did some special tours in the flats, first some sandy ones and then the salt flats. All tougher 27 km in the lunch time sun, where temperatures are above 40 degrees. Before we entered the flats we had some great dunes to climb and then went down a very steep one to get to a river (with obviously river crossings). Beautiful! Health wise I experienced some difficulties today, as I didn’t manage to swallow anything anymore and it took me hard on my feet. All the same, it’s the long stage tomorrow, as the final hard challenge, before we can walk to the bus stop of San Pedro on Saturday

So I’ll try to get some food done now and prepare for tomorrow. Feet are already taped up J. Take care and hear you on the other side of the long stage.


Ps. Yesterday the full moon rose behind the mountain and this morning we saw an eclipse (how impressive nature can be!!!)

Nach Stage 3: RANG: 21!

07-Oct-2014 01:37:06 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

If heaven will not take you, nor will hell, Atacama will!!!

But I guess that has to be so, as this stage is specifically dedicated to my son Yasha who is turning 13 today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! This is the most special birthday present I’ll be able to give and cannot be bought for any money.

I have never experienced such a hard stage as today. The race was full of fields, which looked like frozen broccoli and trust me they cracked just the same. Then as a special treat some loose mud and scrambling up a dune on all four. And to complete the story tons of sun, heat, wind……

My feet are still ok, even though some toes are blue and supposably I’ll lose those nails again. Better than severe blisters. I’m starving, so I’ll be off for some expedition food (macaroni & cheese). My favourite.

Take care


RANG: 22

06-Oct-2014 04:41:59 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Wow!!!! This was definitely the most beautiful stage in the 4 desert races up to now.

Awesome water crossings, through knee deep water (and once even up to the ba..), with strong current. We were in the water for many times and the water was quite cold, which gave numb feet. And lucky me my lubricant seemed to work just fine; no severe blisters. After being in the canyon and doing water crossings for 8 km, we climbed a hill and went through a approx. 500m long tunnel, further up on a step slop to finally run down an incredible dune. Running down there felt as if everything was moving in slow-motion (incredible). And coming from the dune, there were some Swiss people. How encouraging can a “Hopp Schwizz” be J!

Now I’m sitting here writing my blog with an outrageous view on a small lake, which is told to have so much salt in it, that you would float. But given the cold nobody dares to go in.

Take care, Michael

Ps. Dry cleaning gets a totally different meaning here, first you pop your sleeping bag slightly into the river and as the air is so dry here, it just takes minutes to have it dry again!

Ps2. Water crossings are great for the laundry of your sock and gaiters.

Stage 1

05-Oct-2014 02:53:30 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hello all

After a good night rest, even though the altitude was bringing me some headache, we started the first stage. My new breakfast set up (bouillon & 2 energy bars + a virtual Starbucks Vanilla Latte) worked out well. The race started directly into a small valley and had quite some descent in it, which made it pretty fast. Speed and altitude however are not yet in harmony and let me suffer a little, especially after check point 2, where we had a steady climb in a canyon, which just sort of sucked up all the heat. This is the first time I was running on vapour as I had no water left, as I reached the checkpoint. The landscape was awesome, with great plains, a run in a dried out canyon with tons of gravel and areas, where you though kids had built sand mountains.

Tomorrow we will be doing lots of river crossings and run through the slot canyon, which forces you to go through the water for at least half a kilometre. So I kept out of blisters today and hope all the water will not be too hard to my feet. Take care and tell you more tomorrow.


05-Oct-2014 02:58:12 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So finally we reached the first camp. The landscape is just awesome. We’re up on 3200m and have a small set up camp in the middle of huge monolith looking rocks. So tomorrow we’ll hit back to San Pedro on a what looks like a very divers course. Lots of sand, river crossings, flats with high grass, salt flats and mud is expected on the next 250km.

Temperatures are still moderate now, however are expected to drop heavily at night. I’m happy to have my nice and cosy warm sleeping bag with me, even though it added some weight.

It’s good to be back in the desert and it has already started to suck me in again.

Best regards from the valley of rainbows & tell you more after stage 1. Sleep tight


Stage 1: Breaking News 3

Sun, 5 October 2014 at 12:02
The first checkpoint of the day closed at 11:00. The last through were Christophe Antoine from France and Carla Jacko from the United States - both doing well but going slowly to help manage the elevation. Meanwhile at the front, Chema Martinez, the double Olympian from Spain, leads the pack with Herbert Lehner of Austria in 2nd place. The leading lady at this point is Emily Woodland of the United Kingdom who was in 3rd place with Cat Simpson, also from the United Kingdom, not far behind. After the cold start to the day, temperatures have warmed up with the sun shining - by 11:00 sunshine, blue skies and temperatures of about 18C were in effect as layers of clothes were shed. The weather forecast indicates it will continue to be hot as the day goes on with another cold night ahead, but with 500 meters less elevation it should not be as cold during the night as Camp 1.