A Toronto-based Canadian Forces dentist has won a gruelling weeklong,
250 kilometre footrace across Chile’s Atacama Desert beating out more
experienced runners from more than two dozen countries including
“Yes (Mehmet Danis) has won the race,” race spokesperson Zac
Addoriso said via an email sent to the Star this morning. “He had a
The Atacama Desert race which concluded today is part of a four
deserts race organized by racingtheplanet and takes place in a
landscape considered one of the most parched places on earth, an area
characterized by scorching hot days and teeth-chattering cold nights.
Danis’s victory was sealed after he won the fifth stage of the
race, considered the toughest and longest stretch, which some contest
contestants took almost 26 hours to complete.
After five days, the final 10-kilometre stretch into the town of San Pedro today was a breeze.
“I just can’t believe it,” said his wife Sara Madhavi, who has
been following the race in Toronto through spotty email exchanges and
updates on the race website. “It’s only his second try.”
Danis, an amateur athlete, trained eight months straight for
the race, running the equivalent of a weekly marathon a week and
spending hours on a treadmill at an army base near Downsview Park.
It was his first foray into extreme racing. He took home first
place in his age group, was the top Canadian and placed second among
North American competitors. He’s running the Atacama to see if he can
For Danis, the race was a mission of compassion by which he
said he hoped to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones and
make a difference in the lives of others.
Last year, he ran the Gobi Desert in support of the United Way
of Kingston, where he and Mahdavi were living, and raised $4,000. His
goal is $6,000 this year. So far he has raised $3,550.
“I’d been giving to United Way for years, ” he explained. “United Way helps people help themselves.”
Most donors simply write a cheque. That didn’t cut it for Danis,
who said he wanted to go that extra mile, challenging mind, body and
soul for an important cause. After conquering the Gobi, Danis said he
knew he had to push himself farther.