A Glimpse of Desert Racing – Part 2

A Glimpse of Desert Racing – Part 2


In part 2 of the “A Glimpse of Desert Racing” article, I get a chance to interview Samantha Fanshawe, President of the 4 Deserts Race Series, as well as Wei Yong, organizer of the 4 Deserts Information Sessions in Singapore. Both are endurance athletes in their own right and have competed in a 4 Deserts Race Series before.

Click one of the links below to jump straight into the interview.
Samantha, Wei Yong

Samantha Fanshawe, President, 4 Deserts Race Series

Samantha Fanshawe – President, 4 Deserts Race Series

Name: Samantha Fanshawe

Current Occupation: President, 4 Deserts Race Series

How did you start off being an endurance athlete?

I have always done a lot of sport which included quite lot of shorter running. With friends we started to travel overseas to do some runs – and then many of my friends started to run further. I was persuaded (it didn’t take much persuasion) to volunteer at the Gobi March 2005 – from there I knew that I wanted to work for this company. Through watching from and afar and eventually starting to work for the 4 Deserts Race Series in 2008 I had more and more friends who joined the races and so started to run the longer distances with them as they trained for the races.

What was your most memorable race?

Gobi March as competitor. When I at last joined a 4 Deserts race as a competitor I loved it! Such beautiful scenery, nothing to do but run and look after myself, so many amazing friends and bonds formed. I will never forget it. But other races I have enjoyed included completing the Oxfam Trailwalker in Hong Kong in 2008 – the team aspect was very memorable for this race. Reaching my target goal of under 20 hours in the Hong Kong 100 and most recently completing LaVaredo in the Dolomites of Italy this summer just past – very beautiful scenery and only the second time in it’s 8 year history that they have been able to use the full distance of the course.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an ultra-runner?

Without the most enjoyable part is the people you meet! Second to that is the places you go and the sense of achievement you have at the end of any longer run on the trails.

Words of wisdom for those taking the first step at ultra-running?

Don’t be scared to go longer and most importantly enjoy it.

What is the most challenging aspect of managing an event like The 4 Deserts?

The most challenging part is the unexpected. We have floods in the driest desert in the world, an earthquake in the main town to fly through to arrive at the race the week before the race started, the ash cloud above Iceland preventing people from Europe flying to race in Australia, an entire Camp blown away by a freak gust of wind and every kind of unexpected weather you can imagine including snow, hail, wind, rain, 50C heat etc. etc.

The youngest participant of the 4 Deserts was 25 years old (Samantha Gash I believe?). Do you think with the advent of social media, you’ll be able to attract a younger generation of competitors to take interest and participate in the race?

Actually our youngest competitor every was 16 year old Jody Bloomer. Samantha Gash was the youngest to join the 4 Deserts Club – although James Gaston then joined in 2012 (two years after Samantha) and was 6 years younger.

Our minimum age limit is now 21 and maximum 70 years of age. In almost every race we have at least one person who is under 25 and at least one who is over 65 – in our next race which is the Roving Race in Madagascar the youngest is 22 (with 7 people under 25) and the oldest is 69 (with 5 people aged over 65)

Despite the steady growth of ultra-running, how do you see 4 Deserts being able to keep up for publicity space with the increasing number of single-day races available for runners?

Popularity for running in general, and ultrarunning as part of this, is growing exponentially. More and more people are wanting to do a marathon, 100km and then a stage race. I don’t see the interest dropping anytime soon.

Do you forsee participants from Asia increasing now that ultra-running is gaining prominence in the region?

Absolutely! Already running in Asia is growing. We already have a strong presence of participants from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. But we see growth in the number of Asians every year – especially China and smal groups from emerging countries like Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.

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Liew Wei Yong - Founder/Coach of Train Live Compete

Liew Wei Yong – Founder/Coach of Train Live Compete

 Name: Liew Wei Yong

Current Occupation: Founder/Coach in Fitness Industry

How did you start off being an endurance athlete?

It started off as a form of training for my stamina, did my 1st marathon in 2004 and I have been running till now. Start my 1st ultra in 2008 when I signed up for the 1st edition of Sundown 84km. Attend to use this race as a training for Gobi Desert 250km. Since then I have been doing numerous ultra-races.

What was your most memorable race?

Most memorable race? Hmmm have to be Sahara Desert where I suffered from dehydration…. It was bad.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of being an ultra-runner?

To be able to challenge myself, every race are different be it the terrain or weather, none is the same so able to run longer allows me to go through all these and makes me stronger and also a better runner.

Words of wisdom for those taking the first step at ultra-running?

Pace yourself well and of course train for it, do not underestimate any race. When you are there, just enjoy the run.


What is “Train Live Compete” and how did it come about?

Train Live Compete

Train Live Compete

Our vision is to help individuals make Training and Competing so enjoyable, it becomes your preferred Lifestyle. Equip yourself with the knowledge to bring yourself go faster, further and longer.

  • Train through innovative, fun and meaningful training programme put together by the passionate trainers dedicated to enrich all. TLC aims to develop individuals or teams to unleash their talents within, giving them the opportunity to bond and strengthen ties.
  • Live in the moment is what we advocate and we want you to enjoy each step of the way that training and racing becomes a lifestyle choice improving your life.
  • Compete is not all about winning but the journey is what matters. TLC draws strength from the experienced team members who have participated in races -short, long, flat, growling, local, overseas, minor, major, road, trail and the list goes on.

It started off during my years as a runner and speaker for corp company as I used to work in a company that does Workplace Health programme. I realised that many runners do not have a good knowledge in terms of nutrition and the type of training to better themselves. Many ends up giving up the sports once they end up with injuries due to the lack of knowledge so I decided to set up a company to help these people to equip themselves better and be in line with our nation vision of “Live Better Through Sports”

Any interesting programs coming up that you’d like to share with everyone?

Yes we are assisting NTUC U-Sports in their running group and Active Sg “Run to Walk” running club. For anybody who wants to learn more about running, you can log on to www.usports.com.sg and www.myactivesg.com to find out more on this. Check us up on our Train Live Compete Facebook Page to find out more on our run.

We are organising a Runners Convention where there will be Talks and Clinic by Team NorthFace Lizzy Hawker, Team Salomon Ricky Lightfoot and our Home Grown fastest runner, Mok Ying Ren will be there to share their training tips as well. Overseas race organiser like Racing The Planet will be there as well.

The event will be on the 7 and 8 February 2015 and will be at Suntec City Convention Centre. More details will be coming soon on our Facebook.

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