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About Us

4 Deserts+ Ultra-Marathon Series 2022


The 4 Deserts Ultra-Marathon Series is a 1.000km multi-stage footrace across the Namib, Gobi, and Atacama desert as well as Antarctica in one year. The 4 Deserts+ adds the annual roving race (Caucasus), making it five ultra-marathons or 1.250km in one year. Each race has six stages (~4x40km, 1x80km, 1x10km) and covers 250km self-sustained, with runners carrying gear and food as the organization only provides water and medical assistance

TIME Magazine ranks the challenge in its Top Ten Endurance competitions alongside other athletic feats such as the Tour de France and Vendee Globe Yacht Race. Since inception in 2008, 89 racers have finished the full series in one year (Desert Grand Slam) and 18 have finished the extended series (Desert Grand Slam Plus).

We have finished the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus and raised 5 full scholarships! Thank you for donating. The Guinness World Record verification is pending. We are currently thinking about new challenges …




Elise Zender

Elise started We Can Run because she deeply believes that women’s higher education is a powerful driver to achieve a more sustainable world and hopes to bring more funding and visibility to the young women studying in Sierra Leone by taking part in endurance events. After gathering experience in Investment Banking, NGOs and the United Nations, she moved to Munich where she currently works in the Private Equity Investment Team at Allianz Capital Partners. Elise recently completed the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus as the youngest woman in the world to do so, as well as the first woman from Europe. In the total series ranking, Elise placed second woman, winning her age category in the stages in Namibia, Georgia, Chile and Antarctica and placing on the podium (second female) in the final race in Mongolia. Besides the 4 Deserts, Elise was the only female finisher and second overall at the 300 mile edition of the 2023 Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, known as the world’s coldest and toughest race. Read more about Elise in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s articles on Elise running Marathon des Sables and Elise’s journey to the 4 Desert Grand Slam Plus.

Alex Davydov

Alex is a Sports Editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Frankfurt, has raced several ultra-marathons, hiked all over the world and has known L’appel for more than seven years through his travels to Sierra Leone. He helped to set up We Can Run and is responsible for editing the podcast and cutting short videos for Instagram. Alex is also participating in Stage 3 (Atacama) and 5 (Gobi) of the 4 Deserts+ Series and has finished the Marathon des Sables as well as the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 100 mile race.



Josh Tebeau

After spending a year working with children in Senegal and graduating from Princeton University, Josh moved to Utah to train in the mountains and work in the Global Markets Division of Goldman Sachs. Since then, he moved to Europe where he recently founded a geo-spatial rendering startup. Josh joined We Can Run after sharing a tent with Elise during Stage 2 in the Georgian Caucasus and is also joining Stages 3 (Atacama) and 5 (Gobi) of the 4 Deserts+ Series. Together with Elise, he also completed the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, placing second overall. During his time in Senegal, Josh witnessed first-hand the relevance of education as a powerful catalyst for a more resilient future. At We Can Run, Josh is responsible for fundraising activities in the US. 



Iris Leschirnig-Reichel

Iris works in Business Development at Amazon Web Services in Munich and is passionate about creative marketing and all things digital. She studied Law and Management at the University of Exeter and St. Andrews and facilitates the Instagram channel at We Can Run. 1.