Logo for: National Kidney Registry


Matt Cavanaugh, PhD, an active duty US Army Strategist, donated his left kidney to a stranger on September 15, 2021. In 2022, the National Kidney Registry is sponsoring his attempt to be the first living kidney donor to finish the full 4 Deserts race series—racing 1,000 kilometers across Namibia, Georgia, Chile and Antarctica. In his 1K4D (1 Kidney, 4 Deserts) blog, he posts weekly dispatches on the training and competition. Learn more at 1K4D.org.

Looking Back on the Georgia Race

Matt Cavanaugh

It was only about 20 or 30 seconds long. A moment, a blip, during the 40-mile-long Stage 5 at Racing the Planet’s Georgia 2022 race. One of my competitors noticed I wasn’t running as normal and asked if he could give me some water or food or help somehow. His inquiry was genuine, with real … Read More

Georgia Race, Day 5

Matt Cavanaugh

The Long March was the toughest day I’ve had so far this year, but I held out and will finish 3rd overall. The night before, the organizers found us an unused community center in a local village to sleep in. While it was chock full of asbestos, it was also dry, which was a welcome … Read More

Georgia Race, Day 4

Matt Cavanaugh

Georgia giveth, and Georgia taketh away. I ran into a problem today, and it’s got me more than a little worried. But I’ll start with yesterday. The stage was about 24 miles, which meant that after yesterday I was halfway done. After today, I’m two-thirds done. Most of Stage 3 yesterday was on an old … Read More

Georgia Race, Day 3

Matt Cavanaugh

If you were wondering, “ma-do-lo-ba” is how you say “thank you” in Georgian. That’s what I’m feeling right now. A whole lot of ma-do-lo-ba. After I hit “send” on last night’s update, the wind pushed a cloud aside just enough for the sun to peek through. That was officially the first time we’d seen sun … Read More

Georgia Race, Day 2

Matt Cavanaugh

I’m typing this on a windy ridgeline, so windy that we can’t have a fire. Maybe that’s where I should start. Yesterday was so wet that last night everyone tried to dry off their shoes and insoles and clothes using the campfire. It worked, to an extent, but some got a little too close. Several … Read More

And We’re Off! First Dispatch from the Georgia Race

Matt Cavanaugh

Georgia 2022, a Special Edition of the Racing the Planet Ultramarathon, is now under way in the southwestern corner of Georgia, an ancient country in the Caucasus region at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Racers will run 155 miles through the remote Javakheti region from June 19-25. This is Matt Cavanaugh’s first … Read More

Field Notes on Running in the World’s Oldest Desert

Matt Cavanaugh

On May 7, 2022, I finished the Namib Race—the first race in the Racing the Planet 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series—in 4th place. It’s taken me a couple weeks to think back on the race and about what I would like to say about those 155 miles. I’ve decided on a lightly edited version of what … Read More

What it Took to Get to the Starting Line

Matt Cavanaugh

I’m about to leave for the first race in the Racing the Planet series—250 kilometers in Namibia. You can check in on how I’m doing during the race by clicking here from April 29 to May 7. As I finish packing, I find myself pondering a quote, attributed to Lao Tzu: “The journey of 1,000 Read More