Italian to explore the UAE desert on foot

Bernd Debusmann Jr. (Chief Reporter)/Dubai Filed on March 15, 2016 | Last updated on March 15, 2016 at 05.24 am
Italian to explore the UAE desert on foot
Max Calderan

Dubai resident Max Calderan will travel 340km along the Tropic of Cancer through the UAE deserts from the Saudi to the Omani borders.

Max Calderan, a Dubai resident, is no ordinary man. An extreme athlete since he was a teenager, the Italian desert explorer has already gone through extreme periods of dehydration and sleep deprivation over a series of arduous, record-setting voyages.

He is now ready for his latest challenge: 340km on foot along the Tropic of Cancer through the deserts of the UAE from the Saudi to the Omani borders.

The Italian national is by now comfortable with seemingly impossible feats of physical endurance. He's already run for 90 hours - without stopping - over 437km of the Tropic of Cancer in Oman. Also, while fasting for Ramadan and in the blazing heat of summer, he ran 250km for 49 hours coast-to-coast across the unforgiving Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, a journey which was the subject of an Al Jazeera documentary.

Italian to explore the UAE desert on foot (KT5748314.JPG)

His latest adventure will begin on March 18, and is expected to be completed by March 21.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Calderan said his aim is nothing less than to "redefine the concept of extreme."

"I hope that for some people it's inspirational to see that an ordinary man, which I am, is able to do something incredible," he said.

"If you discover within yourself your real power, you can go beyond any kind of limits." Calderan, who was born near Venice, noted that his love of extreme sports began at a young age, and has continued ever since.

"More than 30 years ago, I was an extreme climber. I did a huge number of extreme ascents, all without a rope," he said.

"My goal has always been to do something that seems impossible. I wanted to understand what makes a man capable of climbing a big mountain."

After his university years - during which time he was awarded a medal by the president of Italy for saving a drowning woman's life - Calderan began a career with major multinational pharmaceutical companies.

During this time, Calderan deepened his research into two areas that have proved important to him as an explorer: sleep deprivation and the regulation of fear.

On his upcoming quest, Calderan, who is also a United Nations Development Programme Ambassador for saving Asiatic Cheetahs, said he also hopes to shed some light on the environmental state of the world's deserts.

"What I've seen over all these years is that there are really no more animals in the desert. People always tell me that it's dangerous, because there are scorpions and snakes," he said.

"Of course there are, but there are less and less gazelles and foxes."

"What I see more and more of is waste. You can be 300 to 400km in the Empty Quarter, and you can see drink containers and plastic bags," he added. "It's a big problem."

Calderan noted that the key to his adventures is intense preparation, in case he finds himself separated from his follow-on support team.

"I train myself very hard, like I'm going to a massacre. I prepare myself for sleep, water and food deprivation," he said.

"Sometimes I'll have to be alone in the desert for 100,125km" During the trip, he will only be resupplied in areas that are easily accessible by road - a total of four times.

Calderan said he hoped that his difficult journey inspires people to do great things, follow their dreams and overcome obstacles in their own lives.

"The desert can kill you in five minutes when you are among thousands and thousands of sand dunes," he said.

"But I have only to strongly believe. I want people who hear about this to think that if I am doing this, there is no reason people cannot deal with problems in their lives," he noted.

"There are snakes in the desert, and there are snakes in the office, for example."

"The most important thing is that nobody has the right to stop your dream. You can listen to people, but you know yourself if something is possible," he added.

"Fix a goal and try achieve it. The results will come. Anytime someone says that something is impossible, start feeling that you can do it."


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Originally from Mexico City, I've been in Dubai since January 2015. Before arriving in in the UAE I worked as a general news reporter in TV and print in Mexico City, NYC and Washington DC. I'm interested in defence issues, politics, technology, aviation and history. In my spare time i enjoy traveling and football - I'm a keen fan of Chelsea FC. I developed an interest in the Middle East traveling through Jordan and the West Bank. I have a BA in Political Science from Dickinson College in the USA and an MA in International Journalism from City University London.

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