By Helen Zook
July 11, 2014

Chile’s Atacama, China’s Gobi, Egypt’s Sahara, and Antarctica are widely considered the driest places on Earth—and they're all captured in Desert Runners, a documentary on the high-endurance 4 Deserts Race Series, which pits runners against salt flats, sand dunes, and snow drifts across the globe.

Director Jennifer Steinman follows four of the competitors—none of whom are professional athletes—over the course of a year, showcasing their struggles during the four, 250-kilometer, seven-day treks through the breathtaking but uninhabitable landscapes.

Desert Runners premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year, where it was voted “Best of the Fest.” Its next screening will take place at Cape Cod's Woods Hole Film Festival on August 1. The part Kickstarter-funded film is also available for purchase and streaming on For the month of July, those who buy it can also donate to Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homophobia and fostering inclusivity within the athletic community.

Helen Zook is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.