Desert Ultra: a documentary ultrarunners will love
Desert ultra is a documentary that follows runners during the Desert Ultramarathon, which took place in November 2019. The race features five stages with a total distance of 250 km through the African Namib Desert, and only a handful of runners have finished it. In 2019, the women’s course record was broken by more than an hour and the men’s race saw the first Namibian winner in the history of the event. Desert ultra is available to watch for free on YouTube, and it’s the perfect movie for runners stuck at home in quarantine.
– Beyond Ultimate (@UltimateUpdates) 23 april 2020
Before you start, you should know this: Desert ultra will make you want to get started in the world of ultramarathons (if you haven’t already). So if you’ve never done a 50k training run or tried multi-day stage races, just know that after watching this documentary everything could change.
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The film follows the 27 runners who attempted to tackle the Desert Ultramarathon in 2019. Included in the race start list was Wim Steenkamp from Namibia and Katarzyna Orzechowska from Poland. Steenkamp became the first Namibian to win the desert race after completing all five stages in a total time of 30 hours and five minutes, 25 minutes ahead of second place. Orzechowska placed third overall in 32 hours and 57 minutes, breaking the previous women’s record (set in 2018 by Denmark Kristina madsen) for almost an hour.
A #DesertUltra runner appears as a small dot on the horizon as Brandberg Mountain looms behind them.
The scale of the Namib Desert is absolutely enormous. https://t.co/teL3ZiJ547 pic.twitter.com/xq84wvqZ8r
– Beyond Ultimate (@UltimateUpdates) November 29, 2019
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Viewers see athletes battling 35-50 Â° C heat on long days. Not only do runners have to run in these extreme temperatures, they also have to carry all of their own gear. In 2019, only 19 runners managed to finish the race, bringing the total to just 56 finishers in the history of this brutal race. While the Desert Ultramarathon is clearly incredibly difficult, viewers might want to try it out for themselves someday, so final warning: if you watch this documentary, you might fall into the ultrarunning rabbit hole and find yourself in running in the Namib Desert in a few years.