Ryan Sandes

Ultra-marathon trail runner

When Ryan Sandes entered the Knysna marathon as an excuse to party at the Knysna Oyster Festival, he had no idea it would kick-start a passion that would see him compete in the most physically challenging and punishing trail marathons on Earth, let alone win them. At 29, Sandes is the first person to have won all stages of "the Four Deserts� � four self-supporting desert races, each lasting seven days and 250km, spanning some of the world's most inhospitable deserts. After shattering expectations by winning his first ultra-marathon � the Gobi March � at 26, Sandes went on to break the record at Atacama Crossing, crossed the finish line first in the Sahara and, through blizzards, on ice and in below-freezing temperatures, conquer the final summit in Antarctica. But "Sandman� Sandes doesn't stop at deserts. In 2009 he also broke the record in the Jungle Marathon � a 200km run through bug-infested marshes and forests in the Amazon. With dreams of winning these challenges now checked off his bucket list, Sandes has his sights set on 100-milers around the world, including the Alps and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2011. Spanning France, Italy and Switzerland, the Blanc is notorious for being the toughest foot race in Europe. So what does it take for a qualified quantity surveyor from Hout Bay to race around the world in the most gruelling conditions for no money? Insane mental strength, a drive to live a beyond-average life and the pure reward of proving the impossible possible. With a training regime totalling 28 hours a week, a diet fuelled by ProNutro and Red Bull and a mantra of living each day as his last, Sandes has dedicated his life to testing his limits � and proving to all that the greatest muscle truly is the mind.�Lu Larche

Website: ryansandes.com Twitter: @ryansandes