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Endless Horizons: Nomadic Adventures of an Ultramarathon Runner in Mongolia - Part 1

Runner looking at the night sky in Mongolia outside of a Yurt. Photo credit Patrick Schneider.
Gobi March competitors will experience epic views and ancient culture in Mongolia.

In a little over a week I will depart on another epic adventure that builds on my whirlwind, around-the-world Grand Slam experience in 2022. Next up Mongolia for Racing the Planet’s Gobi March! This blog post is intended to introduce a short series of subsequent blogs covering my travel to Mongolia and my experience during the race.

A Little Background:

In 2022 I became the 13th American to complete a series of multi-day, self-supported ultramarathons presented by Racing The Planet called the 4 Deserts Grand Slam. To achieve this I completed four races in the span of nine months that were each 250 kilometers and seven days long.

For nearly the last two decades the series has taken place every other year in the following locations: The Sahara Desert, The Gobi Desert, The Atacama Desert, and The White Desert of Antarctica! However, during my Grand Slam year, travel to Mongolia was not possible due to restrictions related to the global pandemic. Instead, me and the other runners competed in the Southern Caucasus Mountains of The Republic of Georgia.

To be honest, the prospect of running across the plains, steppe and deserts of Mongolia was a huge part of my motivation to complete the Grand Slam in 2022 and I was bummed when the race was changed to Georgia. But now that travel restrictions are finally lifted, I can finally race in remote and rugged Mongolia and I am pumped!

Gobi March Information:

The Gobi March is just like the other races hosted by Racing The Planet. It will cover a distance of 250 kilometers, take place over seven days, and I will be required to carry all of my own equipment and food - the race organizers only provide us with water along the course and place to sleep between stages.

The course is projected to be an undulating rollercoaster ride covering every type of terrain that Mongolia has to offer. The race director has told us that the course is primarily on gravel tracks, trails and off-road. It will weave across grasslands, fields, soft sand and dunes, rocky terrain, and riverbeds. It will undoubtedly have several river crossings and include some massive climbs and descents - we’ve been told that we will have nearly 14,635 feet of gain and 13,293 feet of descent over the 250 kilometer course which means an overall climbing course - OUCH! Having run several RTP races I know that the course designers will present us with a very challenging course with stunning views of epic landscapes and unique cultural experiences and I cannot wait!

If you would like more in-depth information about the Gobi March, please follow this link to the race's website. You will also be able to follow competitors and even send encouraging emails to us.

I am so excited to get started on this epic journey. Of course it will be tough. Traveling to the remote corners of the world to compete in multi-day ultramarathons is never easy. There's a lot that goes into the planning, training and equipping for an adventure like this. There have already been a few hiccups and I’m sure there will be more before it is all said and done. But, the experience is definitely worth it. There’s an anonymous quote that reads, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” No matter the cost I know that this trip will lead to a huge return on my investment.

I hope you will stay tuned to continue reading about my adventures. I hope the ramblings of a ultrarunning nomad encourage you to get out into the world and find your exceptional!

In future blogs I will cover:

  • Mongolia as a Travel Destination - A Basic Introduction to Mongolia.

  • Preparing for the Gobi March

  • Personal Experience of The Gobi March - A Day By Day Photo Journal

Thank you for following my story! If you have any questions or want to know more about stage racing or travel please post a question below or send an email to

1 Comment

Pohsu Wei
Pohsu Wei
Jun 06, 2023

John, Great post. I look forward to seeing you in a week in Gobi! Po

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