From April 2016 to Feb 2017, Eric and Paul made history by setting a new World Record for Most Desert Races Ran In One Year that spans 6 continents, racing in some of the toughest and most grueling ultra marathons on the planet.
The 8 Deserts Challenge – 8 Self-Supported Ultra marathons, 8 Deserts, 2000km
They completed these races all in one year.
Deserts are the most inhospitable places on earth. Temperatures can reach up to 50C+, and drop below freezing all in the same one day. Many of these races will take place back to back within the span of one week in different parts of the world. Factoring in jet lag and short recovery time, this project truly represents the ultimate test of human endurance.
Why 8 Deserts Challenge?
Growing up, Eric was always into sports. He had a lot of excess energy and could never stand in one place too long. After university, he started doing triathlons as a way to keep him from going crazy. The sport involves three disciplines: swimming, cycling and running. In the time he spent doing triathlons, he discovered that his true passion was actually in running.
There is nothing more pure than the act of running
Over the years, Eric achieved many personal goals along the way. He completed an Ironman Triathlon, ran his way to Boston Marathon and started a streak of running Sub3 hour marathons 5 years and counting under all type of running conditions.
With all the success Eric achieved in endurance sports, he still feel incomplete and unsatisfied. He wants to do something that he can truly call his own. He wants to know what it feels like to have done something that no one has done before.
This is where Paul comes in.
Paul started running in July 2014 to maintain fitness after returning from a life changing backpacking trip to Central & South America. He always thought that running a marathon was crazy and that he was not built to be an endurance athlete having never ran more than 5k in his life. Inspired by Eric’s running and out of curiosity, he decided to enter his first half marathon on a whim. Not only did he finish his first half marathon, he had so much fun doing it that he decided to train for his first marathon with Eric as his coach, dreaming of qualifying for Boston Marathon one day. Training under Eric’s guidance, he slowly realized that his dream was not a dream at all, but an achievable reality. At the 2015 Mississauga Marathon, he ran 3:05 at the age of 40 to qualify for Boston Marathon after only 6 months of training.
Chicago Marathon 2015
Soon after Paul’s first marathon, Eric shared with him this race called Marathon Des Sables, a self-supported ultra marathon that involves running 250km across the infamous Sahara Desert. As crazy as it sounds, Eric intend the both of them to run it. But that’s not all. He has an even bigger design: to break the world record by running in as many desert races as they can around the world in one year. Eric asked Paul what he thinks. Paul thought he was out of his mind, especially for a novice runner like himself.
Eric then showed Paul a movie called Desert Runners and asked Paul to watch it with him. After watching the film, Paul was enthralled and inspired by what these ordinary runners were able to do: racing across 4 deserts in the same year!
Eric convinced Paul that no dream is too big for them.
The 8 Deserts Challenge is born.