Kim Jung-chul, 25, a senior-year student at the department of international tourism of Dong-A University in Busan, has completed the Atacama Crossing, one of the world’s four toughest ultramarathons.
The extreme race was held in Chile’s Atacama Desert, recognized as the driest place on earth ― it is 50 times more arid than California’s Death Valley ― for a week, from March 2-9.
Competitors ran or walked 250 kilometers, carrying items including food, a compass, sleeping gear and clothes.
The Atacama Desert also has the most lunar-like landscape on Earth and is frequently used by NASA to test its planetary rover vehicles.
|In this photo provided by www.racingtheplanet.com/shaunboyte, Kim Jung-chul, the senior student of Dong-A University kisses his medal after completing the Atacama Crossing, one of the world’s top four ultramarathons. (Yonhap News)|
Daytime temperatures can reach a high of 40 degrees Celsius, while nighttime temperatures may drop to 5 degrees.
About 150 runners from 33 countries competed in the race. Of them, 132 crossed the finish line.
Kim let his university know that he had completed the course safely despite slight injuries, the school said.
“Running across the desert, I felt acutely that the shade is so precious and that we should try desperately to prevent desertification,” Kim said. “The weather was too hot. I want to have cool dishes when I get home.”
He plans to compete in the other three footraces in the Sahara and Gobi deserts and Antarctica.
The Four Deserts Ultramarathon involves a six-day walk across each of three deserts: the Gobi, the Sahara and the Atacama in Chile.
Only those who complete the three desert races are eligible to compete in the final stage, a walk across Antarctica known as the “Last Desert” competition.
Kim crossed the Atacama Desert wearing a banner affixed to his torso to promote a slogan of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, “Don’t let our future dry up.”
Before the start of the 250-kilometer desert race, Kim, who hopes to direct documentaries on nature, pledged to donate $5 to Mammut Sports Group for every kilometer he covered.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org