Zimbabwean born Daniel Rowland on Saturday completed The Long March of the Atacama Crossing 2013 in a time of 26 hours 17 minutes and 51 seconds beating 131 other competitors from around the globe. The grueling 250km race known as the world’s toughest endurance competition is held annually in Chile.
Daniel was trailed by Vlad Ixel of Australia, Craig Willment of South Africa, Andrea Girardi of Italy, and Kyle McCoy of the United States. In 2012 Daniel completed the race in ninth place.
The Atacama desert is the driest place in the world. It is said to be 50 times more arid than California death valley which makes Daniel Rowland’s endurance all the more super human. Because of its lunar like landscape, it’s often used by NASA to test planetary rover vehicles.
The course of the Atacama Crossing takes competitors across a wide variety of terrains and includes approximately 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) of ascents and descents over the 7-day race. The entire Atacama Crossing is held at least 2.3 kilometers / 1.4 miles above sea level and covers the distance required to make a horizontal crossing of the country of Chile (250 kilometers / 150 miles).
According to organizers the six stage race starts “…at above 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in the Arcoiris Valley, the race gradually descends over the six stages to finish in the pretty town of San Pedro de Atacama at an elevation of 2,400 meters (7,900 feet). ”
“Competitors tackle sand-dunes, river crossings, gravel, loose rocks, hard packed earth and even waist high grass during the event. This is in addition to the infamous salt flats that even the most dexterous of runners find nearly impossible to cross at full-speed.”
The 28year old hardman moved from Zimbabwe to America before making his home in Santiago, Chile.
Daniel Rowland attended Christian Boys College in Bulawayo. He was a competitive triathlete in Zimbabwe and judging by this latest result it appears that he hasn’t lost his edge.
Messages of congratulations have been pouring in from friends, family and well-wishers from around the world. Former South African rugby player turned Broadcaster, Bobby Skinstad sent his congratulations via microblogging site,Twitter. Zimbabwe’s Minister for Education Sports and Culture was also among the throngs of those congratulating Daniel Rowland.
Those wishing to send messages of congratulations can tweet Daniel on his Twitter account : @dwrowland