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On May 23rd 2018, Team Latitude35 started a 350-mile trek across the Namib desert, one of the oldest, driest and most barren deserts on this planet. The Diamond Coast, where Jason, Ian and Angus – all with a Formex on their wrist – headed into the desert, was dubbed by early explorers as ‘The Gates of Hell’. In fact, conditions were so tough, 2 out of 3 top endurance athletes had to relinquish the trek, being a one-man trek from that point onwards. Did he make it?
Team Latitude35 has achieved a combined eight Guinness World Records, across three oceans, and four continents, and counting. Their latest achievement was in early 2017 when 4 team members crossed the Atlantic Ocean from East to West on a row boat in a world record time of 35 days, 14 hours, and 3 minutes, achieving an average speed of 2.986 knots over 3,000 miles.
The team’s 2018 adventure is a World Record attempt to be the first in human history to fully cross the Namib desert, unassisted. The team started this trek on May 23rd and attempted to cover 30 miles of this harsh and varied terrain each day. A combination of hiking, running and fast marching would get these three men across over a marathon of unforgiving landscape a day, with the added challenge of carrying all their provisions for the entire journey. Food, clothing, ropes, sleeping gear, and first aid supplies will comprise a majority of the team’s equipment. They also carry hand pumps in order to desalinate the sea water for drinking water.
10 miles into the trek, Ian was exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion bordering heat stroke, at which point the support team attended to him. It can only be imagined how brutal this terrain must be, when a 5 times Guiness World Record holder who rowed across the Atlantic twice and completed endurance challenges such as running through Gobi desert, had to surrender in the early stage of the trek.
Jason and Angus pushed onwards. At mile 50, Angus, an adventure and endurance athlete who holds numerous world records in ocean rowing, began having severe symptoms of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke, is extremely serious and thankfully Latitude 35 had a support team to count on.
Some of the world’s harshest conditions brought two top endurance athletes to their knees, and it became clear that running the full 350-mile trek as a one-man show was no longer an option. Jason, knowing that his team members were both safe, continued on, with a new goal of beating the current world record in unassisted desert trekking of 107 miles by setting a new one at 130 miles!
To get there, Jason had to cross a big lion preserve, which required having a Rhino guide walk with him for about 8 miles of the trek. He mentally felt good, but lost a lot of weight. The final stretch led through a tough area with 2 rivers merging, which meant a large amount of wildlife, and a great amount of possible danger. Battling the sun and the elements, Jason finished 130 miles in seven days, on foot and unassisted, across the Namib Desert, early Tuesday morning, breaking his second World Record.
Jason fought to finish this beast. He is now back with the film crew and they are slowly making their way back to the start line. Everyone, including Ian and Angus, is healthy, relieved to be done, and excited to come home in a couple of weeks and share their stories! If we’re able to get a photo sent over of Jason finishing the trek, we will be sure to share it!