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RacingthePlanet Namib Race

Home to the oldest desert and the largest dunes in the world, Namibia has some of the most stunning and iconic desert landscape.

The desert scenery includes wide open red plains, scattered mountain outcrops, huge expanses of dramatic sand dunes, moon-like landscape, Atlantic waves crashing against the sandy desert shore-line, shipwrecks littering the coastline and a fascinating array of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to the area as a result of the age of the desert.

Competitors will see a great diversity of scenery and terrain as they complete the 250 kilometer / 155 mile course of this 6-day ultramarathon.
This includes running along the beach where the desert meets the Atlantic Ocean and through Seal colonies, through salt pans, past salt lakes which are home to flamingos, through the infamous dunes of the Namib desert, into dry riverbeds where a hint of water gives way to lush green vegetation, past deserted oil and diamond mines and across vast open red desert plains and hills.

The host town is Swakopmund, which is about 350 kilometers / 271 miles west of the capital city of Windhoek.

The course itself is a further 300 kms / 186 miles north of Swakopmund, in and around the beach of Torra Bay, in the Skeleton Coast National Park. Special permissions have been obtained to be able to access this part of Namibia in May when it is normally closed to visitors and also to hold the race inside the National Park.

The distance for each of the stages of the Namib Race (Namibia) can be seen below. NOTE that the Long March is on Stage 4 and will take place over two days. The actual planned distances for each stage in the Namib Race (Namibia) 2020 are listed below:

STAGE 1 Sun, 26 April Entering the Skelton Coast 42 km / 26 miles
STAGE 2 Mon, 27 April Diamond Trail Over Scotts Bridge 40 km / 25 miles
STAGE 3 Tues, 28 April Skeleton Beach Run 43 km / 27 miles
STAGE 4 Weds, 29 & Thur, 30 May The Long March Through the World’s Oldest Desert 81 km / 50 miles
STAGE 5 Fri, 1 May Dune Day! 40 km / 25 miles
STAGE 6 Sat, 2 May Final Footsteps in the Namib Desert 10 km / 6 miles

The Namib Race (Namibia) course does not have too much elevation gain or loss, you can see the full elevation chart below. Look at this in conjunction with the stage distances above.

Highest Point 600 meters / 2000 feet
Lowest Point 0 meters / 0 feet (on the beach)

There is a lot of sand on the course of the Namib Race (Namibia). This is primarily in the areas on the beach and in the dunes. Much of the rest of the course is also sandy but with a layer of fine stones on top which is very nice terrain for running. There are also rocky sections and salt pans – the salt pans vary between very hard packed mud and corral-like terrain (without any water).

There are no planned river crossings, however, depending on the level of the tide it is possible you could get your feet wet. It does also depend on what happens during the wet season – it is possible that some of the river beds have some water in them during the race.

During each stage checkpoints are located approximately every 10 kilometers / 6 miles along the course. All checkpoints include shade, water for drinking (normally from a large bottle that you can fill your bottles from), volunteers to check you in and offer support and medical staff.

At each checkpoint competitors must:
Be checked-in on arrival by the race staff.
Leave with the minimum allocation of drinking water for the next section (in general this is 1.5 liters).
Listen to and adhere to any instructions given by the race staff. This could be related to anything including advsere weather conditions (strong winds, thunderstorms, intense heat), visibility (sand storm, fog etc) or anything else.
At each checkpoint competitors can:

Rest for a short time and take advantage of the shade the checkpoint tent offers.
Seek medical advice and minor treatment if appropriate from the medical doctor stationed at each checkpoint .
Ask details about the distance, terrain and elevation of the next section of the course.
Please note that adverse weather conditions, new obstacles or similar can result in changes being made to the course.

On one stage competitors complete a longer distance of approximately 80 kilometers / 50 miles which is nearly double the length of the standard stages. This stage is known as the Long March. The stage follows the same format as the previous stages, with checkpoints are located every 10kms / 6 miles, however there is a designated “Overnight Checkpoint” where there will usually be tents to rest / sleep in and also hot water available to prepare a hot meal or hot drinks.

A cut-off time is the time by which you must have left a checkpoint. There are cut-off times for every checkpoint on the course – these are announced in the morning briefing before the start of each Stage. They are designed to help you finish, not to stop you.

While the leaders are extremely fast (finishing 40 kilometers / 26 miles in 3 – 4 hours) the cut-off times for the back of the field are designed based on a 4 km per hour / 2.5 miles per hour walking speed. This means completing a 40 kilometer / 26 mile stage in 10 hours.

Cut-off times for the Long March are based on a similar speed but with additional time allowed for a rest at the Overnight Checkpoint.

Final course notes will be given to each person in Namibia at the competitor check-in before the race.

RacingThePlanet has raised/donated more than US$750,000 to various charities as part of its events, with competitors raising millions more for charities.
RacingThePlanet primarily supports education and healthcare initiatives in the areas where its races are held.
Most recently, RacingThePlanet established the  Esquel / RacingThePlanet Scholarship to provide 10 scholarships for minority women in Xinjiang Province to attend high school and university.

“It is with great disappointment that the Namib Race 2020 is postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those that thrive most are not the strongest or fastest but those that can overcome obstacles along the way.

We have considered cancelling the event entirely, but we feel during this time of challenge and darkness, it is important to have a light at the end of the tunnel, a goal to work towards as athletes, adventure seekers and also as global citizens. This goal will not only help us as individuals, but also the local economy in the stunningly beautiful country of Namibia.

The Namib Race 2020 will be rescheduled to Thursday 5 November 2020 (arrival date of 3 November 2020 and departure date on 12 November 2020) There are many factors that we have had to take into consideration, and we understand that this date change may not be possible for everyone. If you are not able to take part in the race, your entry can be transferred to another race in 2020 or 2021 without penalty.”

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Nov 05 2020 - Nov 11 2020



Event info

Race info


Skeleton Coast National Park
Race info


  • Mary Gadams

    Mary saw a need for a global event series that captured the best aspects of all the events in which she had competed.

    She started Racing the Planet in 2002 for runners who love to challenge themselves in multiday races, while exploring the most stunning landscapes and ancient cultures on the planet.

    The 4 Deserts Race Series are yearly held races in the deserts of Mongolia, Namibia, Chile and Antarctica.

    And the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathons are races that change location every year. !

    Mary and her team organize incredible multiday races and support charities and initiatives in the areas where races are held while caring for the trails and planet.

    It’s their mission to document and contribute to improving the lives of ethnic minorities and tribes in the areas we explore, and to encourage and support competitors to raise funds for their charities.

    They sponsored the first female ultramarathon team from Afghanistan in the Gobi March!

    The company now also incorporates expedition gear and expeditions foods.

    You can check out her incredible races, Expedition Foods and how you can participate as runner or volunteer on the Racing the Planet website: https://www.racingtheplanet.com/

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