Dubai-based extreme desert terrain adventurer and human endurance specialist Max Calderan (seen in centre) has set a new record of walking and running 78km (between suhour and iftar) non-stop at Al Qudra cycling track in a total time of 15 hours and 11 minutes – without consuming any food or water – as part of a ‘Fasting Run’ to commemorate the Holy Month of Ramadan and to motivate people to push themselves to the limits of their physical, mental and spiritual endurance.
Calderan began his remarkable feat of endurance on Friday, June 2, 2017, at precisely 3:56am (suhour) and ended at 7:07pm (iftar) – in summer temperature that peaked at 51 Celsius onsite that day.
Legendary for his numerous feats of physical endurance over the years, Calderan, famously known as the ‘Son of the Desert’ in the Middle East and North Africa belt, has a strong affinity for the Holy Month of Ramadan, including 2016, when he walked a total of 150km in less than 24 hours from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi to Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai while abstaining from both food and water in a personal mission to raise awareness about the Al Jalila Foundation.
While in last year’s Ramadan challenge Calderan walked on the hard shoulder of the asphalted highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, for this year’s Fasting Run endeavour he opted for the relatively flat asphalt Al Qudra cycling track as he had a few participants join him for sporadic distances and times.
Al Qudra cycling track
Bordered and ringed by sand dunes popular with off-roaders and offering glimpses of desert wildlife including hares, foxes and oryx, the Al Qudra cycling track consists primarily of a large loop bisected by a mid-sized section that runs parallel to Al Qudra Road.
Attired from head to toe in white apparel to repel the fierce sun on June 2, a visibly exhausted Calderan successfully concluded his suhour to iftar odyssey, with the Italian saying: “Yes, it [Fasting Run] was tough today, but my main goal was to inspire and motivate a new breed of people to understand and realise that the limits aren’t where we expect them to be but rather, to be able to face any difficulties – to become even stronger.
“If we want to develop a winning mentality, we have to learn how to focus on the body first and being in a quiet desert environment [Al Qudra] when engaged in intense physical activity we have the opportunity to reach into our innermost reserves of energy and resilience, while also being able to change our mindset.”
Walk of life
During the course of the day-long Fasting Run, Calderan was joined by supporting walkers: Laurent from France for the first 13km (morning); Mirco Bortolami from Italy for 2 sections of 13km each (late morning and afternoon); Nils from France with his father for 7km (afternoon); Roberto from Italy (evening); and Silvio, only six years old, with his father Alfio for the last 1km (evening).
Calderan’s numerous feats of endurance in the past include his climbing and descending the 300m tall Moreeb Dune in Abu Dhabi a total of 45 times non-stop (equivalent to the combined height of 16 Burj Khalifas); running 250km through the Sinai Desert in Egypt while fasting; running 340km along the Tropic of Cancer line between the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia; running 202km in Qatar in less than 49 hours; and running 360km in 75 hours through the Wahiba Sands in Oman in hot summer conditions.
How is Calderan able to overcome what most other human beings would find impossible to attempt physically and mentally in harsh environmental conditions – let alone finish?
According to Dr Matteo Cerboneschi, PhD, CEO of Nextgenomics, a renowned genetic laboratory in Italy that specialises in structural and functional genomics, molecular diagnosis and biotechnology applications, “from a genetic point of view, Max Calderan has a very low level of production of ematic cortisol hormone (the so called stress hormone) and consequently, a very high capability to absorb high stress level.”
For the Fasting Run, Calderan and his fellow participants had Weekends with Albert as 4×4, logistics and emergency support team, with water being provided by Moniso Water, clothing by Montura, and medical support by Royal Aesthetica Poly Clinic, Dubai.