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Harvard's Eric LaHaie ('02) Wins Gobi March 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

KASHGAR, CHINA -- Former Harvard football player and All-Ivy League safety Eric LaHaie '02 won the Gobi March 2009, named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 10 Endurance Competitions in the World.

The 28 year old LaHaie finished ahead of famed marathon runner Riel Carol (France) and ahead of third-place finisher and fellow American Sean Abbott.

The Gobi March is part of The Four Deserts ultra marathon (also known as the RacingThePlanet competition). There is no other event series like it in the world.

The Gobi March is a six-day, 250-kilometer footrace (156 miles). Each individual must also carry his or her own gear, food and clothing in a backpack. The only assistance provided is water, tents and medical assistance. The average backpack weighs about 20 pounds. The course is expected to reach an altitude of about 3,000 meters / 9,800 feet.

LaHaie finished the event in 26 hours, 43 minutes and 50 second, defeating Carol by over an hour (1:10:34 difference). LaHaie, who currently resides in Hong Kong, won three of the six stages and finished second in two of them to earn the victory.

He blistered the field early, winning the opening stage by over 34 minutes, covering the 26.6 mile stage in a time of 3:43:07. The next day, in the 25.7-mile stage, LaHaie finished second to China's Wei Weichao by three minutes and 17 seconds, finishing in a time of 3:57:55.

On day three, a 24-mile race saw LaHaie again lead the pack, besting Carol by just over six minutes in a time of 4:13:03 to increase his lead.

Stage four saw some dramatics as the competitors ascended "Heaven's Gate," said to the world's tallest natural arch, towering 3,000 meters above sea-level. LaHaie led the race going into the steep climb but was overtaken by Abbot, who outlasted LaHaie by just 10 seconds in the 25.7 mile race as LaHaie finished in 5:11:45.

The continued and complete story can be found at -- along with official photos and stage updates.

- A.S.