From: BBC Earth
Published March 2, 2011 06:49 AM

Humans vs animals — The hottest race of the year - New from BBC Earth

Imagine a landscape in front of you as barren and endless as your eye can see. And then imagine that your task is to cross it, on foot, through eye stinging dust storms, unbearable heat and a body willing you to stop with every step. Welcome to the Sahara! Welcome to your "marathon of the sands".

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Aptly named the Sahara meaning "The Great Desert," it is a land-mass almost as large as Europe or the United States! Making it the largest hot desert in the world, second only to Antarctica, which although not commonly thought of as a desert because of its cold climate, is classified as such when the amount of rainfall is measured.

The cheetah may be the fastest sprinter on the planet — reaching from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds! But what about over long distances? In this incredible video from Life of Mammals, we see how different animals respond to the challenges of survival that require the use of their fitness and strength.

Even though the human marathon across the Sahara that is happening today, may be less fraught with danger than the threats that are faced by the pronghorn and the gazelle. The six-day "ultra-marathon" (the equivalent of six independent marathons!) journey remains a huge feat of endurance. And at a total of 254 km (156 mile) long, its' a task that even the cheetah would find difficult considering at its best it can only travel up to 460 m (1,510 ft).

Go humans! We wish them all the competitors the best of luck!

See this great video and others from BBC Earth at: http://bbcearth.posterous.com/humans-vs-animals-the-hottest-race-of-the-yea

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