He’s 48. He just walked 340km across the desert in only four days. Oh, and the whole time he only ate nuts, dried meat and dates…

You thought you were fit? Think again.

Meet UAE-based 48-year-old Italian endurance athlete Max Calderan. Dubbed the ‘Son of the Desert’, he recently undertook a challenge of following the Tropic of Cancer by foot. 

His journey took him from the Saudi Arabian border to Oman, which took him through the UAE’s Empty Quarter, and totalled 340km (that’s an average of 85km a day).

Oh, and he did it all without really stopping (aside from the odd bite-sized nap), and he managed it all within four days.

tropic of cancer max calderanHis route. Photo: Supplied/Moto

As sustenance, Max took along some water, as well as some nuts, dried meats and dates. He was basically living like a Bedouin, just without a nice big tent to park up in at night.

Max Calderan Dubai

Max is no stranger to crazy expeditions, he previously accomplished a 90-hour, 437km crossing of the Tropic of Cancer in Oman, as well as a 72-hour, 240km journey across the desert of the Sinai Peninsula, while fasting during Ramadan.

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The journey was obviously daunting, dangerous and unbelievably difficult. Calderan can be seen in this video posted to his Instagram page, after completing the first 100km, saying how with the soft sand, 1km could sometimes take around one hour to complete…. (click to play):

It wasn’t smooth sailing weather-wise either. Calderan had to deal with the heat, sandstorms and rain, as well as the cold (and animals) of the night. At one point, two of Max’s support cars got caught up in severe conditions, meaning he drifted nearly 35km away from them on the second day. 

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Here he can be seen hunkering down under a blanket during a desert sandstorm (click to play):

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Walking 340km through sand really takes its toll…

Max Calderan Dubai

The landscape is monotonous and disorientating…


Max took a few small naps a day around dusk, and then walked through the night.


He wore many protective layers to protect against the sand…



It must have felt all worth it though, as Max powered through to the finish line for an emotional ending.

Max Calderan Dubai

Max Calderan Dubai

Talking about the journey on his Facebook page, Calderan says it was “The hardest, most incredible, toughest adventure I’ve ever accomplished.”

Albert, a member of Max Calderan’s team said: “Extreme is not the word to describe Max. There’s a limit for everybody. He is limitless.”

Photos: Mauro Grigollo

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