Magdalene PHD student Georgie Peters will be competing this April in the Marathon des Sables (MdS), a race like no other! Running 250km through the Sahara Desert in 40 degree heat, and carrying all your kit and food, it's easy to understand why this epic race is described by many as the 'Toughest Footrace on Earth'.
We asked Georgie why she was doing this, how her preparation was going and how she was fitting in the training for such an epic challenge alongside her busy Cambridge schedule.
"I'm running to raise money for two charities that help fight against diseases which have had a personal impact on her life, Alzheimer's Research and Bloodwise.
I decided to sign up for the Marathon des Sables 2017 in December 2015, as I felt that with my PhD studies drawing to a close, it was a good time to take on a physical challenge to coincide with the mental one I was still undertaking! My PhD research in archaeology involved running between hillfort sites in Britain as an experimental way of understanding past movement and mobility, so my research actually doubled up as some training runs for me! I'm still not sure whether me being a runner created my PhD thesis, or if the thesis made me into a runner!
After getting Blades with Magdalene W1 in Mays Bumps, I have been exclusively running since, apart from some weight training in the gym. I handed in my PhD in December, so I've had a lot more flexibility to fit in some training whilst I wait for my Viva! Still hoping to Viva before I go to the desert on 7th April, although it would give me something to think about out there in the dunes...
I took part in the Cambridge Boundary Run half marathon this past weekend (26th Feb), with my race backpack on, and ran to the start as extra training - basically my life at the moment involves trying to fit longer runs in, with a pack, whenever I can! I'm also doing some work in Whittlesford at the moment, so I've been running to/from there at least once a week. In the last few weeks before the race I'll also be doing hot yoga to get my body accustomed to higher temperatures - Cambridge in winter is not the best training ground for a desert race.
In the race itself, apart from hoping to finish, I'm hoping to come in the top 2/3rd - so under around 650 out of 1000 runners total. I plan on run/walking throughout, rather than doing either exclusively, but the real challenge will be the uneven surface of the sand, and the heat of the desert! My biggest fear would be sustaining an injury during the race, but hopefully the training I've done up to this point will have strengthened my body to prevent that eventuality, fingers crossed!
The race starts a few days after my 30th birthday, so it's a bucket list item, and a birthday present to myself - I'm looking forward to a double celebration once I get back!"
From everyone at Magdalene we would like to wish Georgie all the best for the race. Georgie has covered the expenses of entering the MdS herself meaning all the money she raises goes directly to her chosen charities. If you would like to support and motivate her especialy through the tough 90km overnight stage please see her fundraising page. You can also keep track of her adventures and running preparation on her Instagram account.
Good luck Georgie!