Adventurer trekking solo across Mongolia

British adventurer Ripley Davenport is in the middle of a spectacular solo journey. One that if he finishes, will put him the record books for the longest solo and unsupported trek in history. But before he’s done, he’ll face harsh weather conditions, inhospitable terrain, and one of the most demanding routes ever undertaken by man.

Ripley’s adventure is dubbed the Mongolia 2010 Expedition. His plan is to travel alone for 1700 miles across the vast, open wilderness of Mongolia, a country that boasts one of the lowest population densities on Earth. Along the way, he’ll travel on foot across the Eastern Mongolian Steppe, through the Gobi Desert, and over the Altai Mountains, while pulling all of his gear and supplies behind him in a specially designed cart that is the lifeline for his trek.

The expedition initially began back in April, but just three days in, the cart broke down on the harsh terrain. Undaunted however, Ripley returned home, made some important modifications to the design, and returned to the trail once again in late May. Since that time, he has completed the trek over the Mongolian Steppe, and is now nearing the end of the Gobi. According to his latest blog posts, Ripley has entered the foothills of the Altai Mountains, which will present an entirely new set of impediments to his progress.

At the moment, the former British Army officer is roughly halfway through his expedition, with plenty of challenges yet to overcome. But his spirits are high, he is focused and determined, and after more than 40 days on the trail, he is confident in his skills and equipment. The redesigned cart is working well, and is vital to Ripley achieving his goal of going solo and unsupported. Traveling by himself, he has the solo part well covered, but in order to achieve “unsupported” status he needs to finish the expedition without resupply or outside aid of any kind. His cart not only carries his gear, but also his food and water too, and without it, the journey wouldn’t be possible at all.

Check in on Ripley’s blog for regular updates from the field as he shares his adventure with the rest of us.

[Photo credit: Ripley Davenport]

The Gobi March begins today

More than 150 of the world’s top ultra-runners have assembled in the remote city of Turban, located in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in western China, to take part in one of the most challenging foot races on Earth. The event is known as The Gobi March, and over the course of the next week, the competitors will endure six grueling stages through one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Each day this week the runners will head out on a course designed to test their strength and stamina. They’ll be required to carry all of the gear they’ll need for the day, including food and water, while navigating between desert checkpoints. When they reach the finish line for each stage, they’ll camp for the night, regaining their strength for the next day, when they’ll do it all again.

The first stage of the race takes part today over a 32km (20 mile) course that runs from the village of Gaoyachun through a remote valley in the Tian Shan Mountains, whose peaks will serve as a dramatic backdrop to the day. Temperatures are expected to climb above 100ºF, and the dry trail conditions will be an indicator of what is to come in the days ahead.

The top runners will finish the race with a combined time for all six stages in the 25 hour range, but the majority of the competitors will be much further back than that. The race is a test of endurance however, and just reaching the finish line is a major accomplishment for all involved.

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