The ultimate challenge

Midwinter would like to offer hearty congratulations to Joe McCann (a member of the Midwinter AdviceOS distribution team) who has just finished 4th in one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

Joe has recently finished the Gobi March event, one of 4 legs of the 4 Deserts Race.

The race was held near the Chinese border with Kazakhstan and encompasses 250 kms over 6 stages – the longest single stage (stage 5) being 78.4 kms.

Competitors are required to carry all of their personal gear, food and clothing in a backpack.

The only assistance provided to them is water for drinking and making food, tents to sleep in at night and medical and management support.

Joe also raised thousands of dollars for the “sids and kids” charity.

Here is an extract from his blog, following the longest and toughest leg of the race – stage 5.

Click here for the full photo gallery of Joe’s ultimate challenge.

I did it!

Yesterday’s long stage was by far the toughest most rewarding run/race I’ve ever completed.

Thankfully I was one of the nine lucky competitors that were able to finish the stage before it was abandoned, due to atrocious weather conditions.

I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand, with the three event leaders and Davide from Italy (6th) in 9 hours 7mins after 74km and nearly 3000 metres elevation gain.

I’d decided before the race that I was going to stick with the lead group until the wheels fell off (go hard or go home, right?).

After reaching checkpoint two, dripping with sweat due to humidity levels well into the eighties, me and the race leaders began a 20km climb into the Tian Shan mountains.

Not long after starting the climb, it started pouring rain.

The higher we got the colder it got and it wasn’t long before the rain had turned to hail.

Due to the fact that every ounce of energy I had was going into sticking with lead group, it hadn’t dawned on me how bad the conditions had got.

It wasn’t until we stopped as a group to put on our jackets and I couldn’t undo my backpack because I had no control over my numb limbs ( I ended up using my teeth).

Finally once we had reached the top of the peak (approx 2800 metres), we pushed on as a group through the next couple of checkpoints until we reached another 12km climb.

At the top of this climb we were met with one of the best views I can recall.

We descended through picture perfect green hills that resembled a golf course, with a perfect view of Lake Sayram, with snow-capped mountains towering above it.

I don’t remember much of that last section as my mind and body was gone after pushing so hard for so long.

Crossing the finish with local news crews everywhere, hand in hand with world class athletes was a special moment… especially knowing what we’d just been through together.

It’s been a week since I’ve showered, it’s been a week since I’ve used a toilet, it’s been a week since I ate something that wasn’t in a freeze dried pack and it’s been a week since I slept on a bed…. I’ve loved every minute of it.

As you could imagine my mouth is watering at the thought of peking duck, dumplings and beer…. Not long now.

Regardless of the result tomorrow (the last stage of the race) I couldn’t be happier with how this week has planned out, even if I have destroyed the pain receptors in my brain permanently.

There’s no greater feeling knowing that you’ve given your all to something.

Although I was filled with doubts, fear and pain heading in, due to the two hernias, the main reason I was able to push on was because of the support from my family and my rock, Nay.

Same can be said for being able to push on each stage, was because of the supportive messages I’ve received; you’ve almost brought an emotionally wrecked man, to man tears.

Can’t wait to get back and see everyone.

If this has inspired you to get out there and test your limits of endurance, you can register yourself for one of the following events – Atacama Desert Crossing, Sahara Desert Race, Antarctica (The last Desert) or the Gobi Desert March – by visiting the 4 deserts website: