Last extreme adventure sees vegan take the series crown

Ultra runner Ben Dame has completed the Last Desert race in Antarctica. He finished third completing a remarkable series of demanding events – and becoming 4 Deserts Champion.

11 January 2023

View Ben Dame’s GVA profile

The race is part of the 4Deserts series, and the only one without a fixed 250 km distance.

The Last Desert race is a 6-day multi-stage race in the frozen South Pole region. Runners complete the maximum distance in each location.. Ben totalled 219 km, placing third of 43 entrants.

Ben added this to his performance in the other three races in the series. This took him to the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi in China and the Namib desert. Ben’s performances made him the 4Deserts Champion.

“I cannot believe this project is over” Ben said, reflecting on the adventures. “After seven stage races and 1750km of running through desert terrain, I completed the @racingtheplanet 4Deserts race series.

“I did my first race in 2014 and just completed the last race yesterday in Antarctica. I raced through Madagascar, Sri Lanka, the Atacama desert (Chile), the Gobi desert (China), the Namib desert (twice) and now among penguins in Antarctica. I was able to become the first German man to win the overall 4Deserts Championship and I also did it as the first fully plantbased athlete.”

Ben completed the Namibia race twice. Not satisfied with his time in 2018 he re-entered in 2021.

Vegan triathlete

Ben has competed in triathlon, representing USA (where he lives) and competing at the World Championships.

In 2004 he started reducing animal products and in October 2012 he became vegan. Ben was motivated by science and associated personal benefits, and later recognised other reasons to be vegan.

“My decision was completely selfish and did not have any political or social reasonings behind it” Ben told Great Vegan Athletes. “It was born out of self-experimentation.”

“I’m certainly happy to see though that living on a plant-based diet not only benefits my health, but also inspires other people to do the same and ultimately can have a positive impact on the environment, as it is currently being crushed by the impact of animal agriculture.”

Ben is also CEO of a vegan company that conducts detailed personal analysis of health data to optimise performance.

Fuelling his Antarctic endeavours presented additional challenges, as no solid food was allowed on land.

“During the race I was mainly consuming pre-mixed electrolytes drinks. As we slept on the expedition ship, I was eating salads and grilled veggies after the running was done for the day. I had vegan porridge and peanut butter and jam sandwiches in the morning.”

Completing such an imposing challenge is an enormous undertaking, and we congratulate Ben on doing so and emerging as Champion.

He’s reflecting on the enormity of his series and in particular the decision to run the Namib Desert leg a second time.

“I’m contemplating about the past and wonder what’s next and one of Shackelton’s quotes came to mind: ‘Men are not made from easy victories but based on great defeats.’ “

See also: Vegan runner’s blood studies give him the edge

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