Max Calderan: Italian desert explorer to run 340km across the Tropic of Cancer

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Max Calderan.

Dubai resident Max Calderan will set off on a 340km trek across the desert from Saudi Arabia to the Omani border early Friday morning.

An extreme athlete since he was a teenager, Calderan will go through severe periods of dehydration and sleep deprivation in order to become the first man to cross the Tropic of Cancer on foot.

The Italian national is an experienced endurance runner and has completed an array of gruelling challenges, including running non-stop for 90 hours over 437km in Oman and was the first man to cover 200km in 48 hours across Oman in 2007 – where temperatures hit a high of 56 degrees. During Ramadan in 2012, he ran 250km across the merciless Sinai Peninsula in Egypt while fasting.

A man who can put his body through ruthless challenges like this is no ordinary person, and this is something that has taken years of conditioning as Calderan continues to test his physical and mental boundaries.

“I said to my mum in 1974, that when I’m older I will be the first man to cross the desert because here it was written that it is impossible,” Max told Sport360. “As for me, nothing is impossible. We are men. We are humans. We came from nature. Why is it impossible? Why? There is no reason.”

“It’s a matter of remembering who we are at the origin. We cannot be scared about anything from nature. Why are we no longer able to do it? Only because we have been conditioned by what we read in books or from other people.”

His latest expedition will start over the UAE border in Liwa and bring him across the desert to Oman where he is expected to finish on March 21.

One of Calderan’s biggest accomplishments in the punishing summer heat was a 360km expedition across Saudi Arabia in 75 hours where temperatures reached as high as 58 degrees.

“Once we enter the desert, we start to over-think and panic and forget who we are, so in this case, mind preparation is very useful until the first step into the desert,” Calderan said.

“After this you have to remember that you are bigger and stronger than you think. You are not average. Each of us has their personal method, their own training and decisions. It’s very easy but it’s just one small key to open a very big door.”

In the build-up to his First Ever on Foot crossing challenge, Calderan trained in three main areas: sleep deprivation, water deprivation and food deprivation, something he believes is critical if any athlete is to challenge extreme activities.

“I do all my training sessions to the limit. I was running up and down flights of stairs at my building in JBR and I ran up 700 floors last week to prepare myself for this. It’s a matter of tough training, but the main point to remember is to train yourself during the night,” said Calderan.

“I normally have three to four hours sleep. During my previous explorations, I slept five-seven minutes every three/four hours. In Oman two years ago, I went without sleep for 100 hours, just small naps. It’s very useful if you’re stressed.”

“We have to train our heart, our mind, to react within us to discover something. I feel, not I think. You need to study every day of your life in order to improve and be the best you can be.”

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UAE's Musa Khalfan gets back on track at the Ultimate Racenight League

Jay Asser 17/03/2016
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Quick appearance: Musa Khalfan.

Now more than halfway through the Ultimate Racenight League, only three meets remain for athletes to collect points towards their final tally.

Returning to action in the fifth Racenight at Dubai Sports City are record-holders Musa Khalfan and Harriet Stewart, both having set the pace in the men’s and women’s seniors 100 metres, respectively.

Khalfan produced a stunning time of 10.60 seconds in the second meet, his only appearance in the league, while Stewart’s showing of 12.71s, also in Racenight two, leads all women.

Kashif Taiyebi claimed the 100m in the past two meets, but will be challenged for his third-straight triumph with Khalfan.

In the men’s seniors 800m, newcomer Tom Bork from Germany will set his sights on current record-holder Noaman Elassaoui, who delivered a time of 1:52.5 in Racenight three.

Emily Sinclair, holder of all the sprint records for girls Under-13s (80m, 150m, 300m), returns after a school trip kept her from competing in the previous meet. Her lead on the league, however, is down to just two points with Aba Agbemabiese making up ground.

Yannick Kraus, meanwhile, is running away with the league in boys U-9s, leading by almost double points on the strength of his all-round success in the 80m, 150m, shot put and high jump.

Registration is still open and can be done through www.ultimateathleticsuae.com.

Junior events will run from 17:00 to 18:30, followed by the seniors from 19:00 to 20:30.

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Ahmad Ojaghlou grabs third gold at IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships

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Hat-trick: Iran’s Ahmad Ojaghlou (r).

The 28-year-old Ojaghlou (50.09s) looked in terrific form over the course of the Championships and gave it his all once again as India’s Sandeep Singh (50.67s) tried hard to catch the Iranian before he crossed the line.

The win meant a third gold medal for Ojaghlou to add to his 100m and 200m T47 wins from earlier in the week – and he was delighted.

“I am so happy I won three gold medals. I am having the best time,” he said. “My year of hard work has paid off. I did that for my country, it was my duty. We all did our best to have the Iranian flag raised many times here.”

There were a further four gold medals for Iran Saturday at Dubai’s Police Officer’s Club stadium:

Arash Khosravi notched up his second gold of the Championships with a spectacular finish in the men’s 200m T11. The 22-year-old was pushed hard all the way but just managed to pull clear of his rivals with less than 10m to go, stopping the clock in 24.64s. “I am happy to have two golds now. I worked hard for this event and I am working very hard to get to Brazil,” he said.

Ali Elahi (T12) won the men’s 1,500m T13 in 4:20.36, while out in the field Alireza Hemami Mokhtari (F53) won the men’s discus throw F51-53. Mahdi Asghari (T42) made it a total of 16 golds in the field for Iran over the six days of competition as he won the shot put F42/44 with 11.60m (642 points).

Elsewhere a fourth round throw of 57.69m (898 points) proved enough for China’s reigning Paralympic champion and world record holder Pengkai Zhu (F12) to take the men’s javelin F11-13 title.

Iran topped the medals table with 23 gold, 10 silver and seven bronze. China finished runners up with 16 gold, nine silver and five bronze. India were third, Japan fourth and the UAE took fifth.

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