Matthew Chapman Nears Completion of Training for the Namibia Ultra-Marathon in May 2009

Back in February we first publicised information about Matthew Chapman’s quest to complete his fifth ultra-marathon, to be held in Namibia this May. Matthew is now just four weeks away from taking part in this epic event, and his training is nearing a close.

The 267km Namibia Ultra-marathon will be the fifth in RacingThePlanet’s series which has previously involved races in the driest, windiest, hottest and coldest deserts in the world : the Atacama Desert (Chile), Gobi Desert (China), Sahara Desert (Egypt) and Antarctica. Matthew is one of just 15 people in the world who has completed the earlier races in the first ‘4Deserts’ series. He will be part of a field of 220 competitors from 42 countries around the world, 90% of who have taken part in one of Racing the Planet’s desert ultra-marathons previously.

The Namibia ultra-marathon will set off from Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia on 17 May 2009 and conclude 6 days and 267km later on 23 May 2009. The race will follow a format of four back-to-back 42km marathons in the first four days, followed by an 80km stage which could last two days. The course will traverse the 550m Fish River Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world and continue through the Wegdraai Valley, over the Hunsberg Mountain Range and into the Arimas Valley. Competitors will cross the Rekvlakte sand flats ending in the coastal town of L‚deritz, but not before facing the Skeleton Coast and its 30 metre high sand dunes. Day temperatures will rise to close to 40 degrees Celsius but the mercury could fall below 0 degrees Celsius at night.

Matthew’s training for the event, which has involved a four month build-up since Christmas, has so far gone smoothly. “Building on a rusty fitness base, I stepped up my training in a more focused way at the beginning of 2009 to between 40km to 90km of running a week and four gym work-outs, depending on my schedule. Since March, its been necessary to train with a 7kg backpack to simulate the weight which I’ll carry on my back during the race to haul my food, clothes and medical supplies”, says Matthew. For training purposes he has filled his pack with rice, flour and anything else he could lay his hands on. “I do get funny looks whenever I empty my pack in public”, laughs Matthew.

The biggest challenge in completing his training for Namibia, according to Matthew, has been time. “I’ve found myself jamming my training in-between meetings during the day and very early – too early – in the morning before the day gets busy”. Indeed most of the competitors face a similar struggle, especially since the RacingThePlanet events attract prominent CEOs, Company Directors, Doctors and people from all walks of life. “If I could isolate one common denominator between people who take part in these events, apart from their desire to challenge their physical capabilities, it would be their ability to multi-task and juggle many priorities in life”.

Matthew expects the Namibia race to be more challenging than the earlier races he has completed. The 267km course will take competitors through some incredibly tough terrain. “The course runs through the second deepest canyon in the world, through brutally harsh salt flats, more than hundred kilometres of soft sand, over tens of kilometres of several hundred foot sand dunes. We’ll face cyclonic desert winds at times which could bring visibility to zero, with the desert sand whipped up. I’m not looking forward to zero degree temperatures at night, as I can’t afford the weight-penalty of carrying too much warm gear”, said Matthew. He will be able to ‘thaw out’ during the day, though, as the mercury will hit 40 degrees during the day.

Matthew is raising money for the Room to Read charity, which is funding the development of libraries to improve the literacy of children in developing nations in both Asia and Africa. Donations will open Friday 24 April and details will be posted on We will keep you posted on Matthew’s last minute preparations for the race via The Chapman Consulting Group website before he leaves on 13 May. Once the race starts on 17 May and right through 22 May, you will able to follow his live updates during the race via satellite on our website and also on

About RacingThePlanet

RacingThePlanet’s mission is to challenge individuals to go beyond their athletic frontiers while exploring the most remote landscapes and ancient cultures on the planet; to inspire all aspiring individuals with a life-enhancing experience; and to improve the lives of ethnic minorities and tribes in the areas we explore. See

About Room To Read

Room To Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide quality educational opportunities by establishing libraries, creating local language children’s literature, constructing schools, and providing education to girls. We seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education empowers people to improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries and future generations. Through the opportunities that only education can provide, we strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. See


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