Kevin Lin Crosses Gobi to Set New Desert-Run Record

A Taiwanese man became the first human to run across the world’s three biggest deserts after completing a 40-day ultramarathon across the Gobi Desert.

Kevin Lin arrived in Jiayuguan in northwestern China’s Gansu province 40 days after he began the 2,300-km (1,438-mile) run on June 23 from Bei’er Lake, Mongolia.

“It would have been very easy to give up, but there is always hope as long as you persist,” said Lin after completing the run. “Taiwanese people can also set a historic record.”

Lin had begun the journey with Canadian ultramarathoner Ray Zahab and a support team driving a pair of SUVs. They hoped to average 70 km a day and complete the run in 35 days. But near the beginning of the run Lin stepped into a rabbit hole and tore a ligament in his right knee. Since there were no hospitals in the area Lin was taken to a nearby village. He rested for two days while villagers treated the injury with salty milk and green tea.

By the time Lin could run again Zahab had already put on nearly 300 km (188 miles). Unwilling to skip that distance Lin decided to continue the run alone.

Lin’s run took him through a wide variety of rugged terrains, including yellow sand, black rocks and high plateaus. He ran for days in summer rains, through thick swarms of insets and in temperatures as high as 46 degree Celsius (115 F). On one occasion Lin and his support team were accosted by five bandits and had to brandish knives to scare them off.

There were poignant moments as well. A Mongolian herdsman who welcomed Lin into his home for a night pleaded with him to take his son to Taiwan.

“All my life, I have lived between these mountains,” the herdsman implored. “If my son wants to go to school, he has to travel over 40 kilometers from here. I sincerely hope that you could take him with you, so that he will have better days.”

In the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar Lin met a woman who had been cast out by her family for having given birth to a girl with a cleft lip. Lin put her in touch with the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families who provided the girl with surgery to repair the lip.

In 2007 Lin became the first person to run the entire 7,500-km (4,688-mi) span of the Sahara desert. In 2011 he ran the 10,000-km (6,250-mi) length of the Silk Road.

Lin plans to release a book and a documentary about the run to raise awareness of the problems faced by the people of the Gobi desert, including severe water shortages and lack of medical resources.