Badwater Ultramarathon is dubbed the world’s toughest foot race, with competitors expected to run more than 200km through California’s Death Valley in temperatures topping 50 degrees. There’s no distinction between day and night – they simply have to keep running. To even apply, entrants need to have completed at least three 100-mile races in the last two years. Many don’t even finish. But Dubai’s Catherine Todd, who lives on The Palm Jumeirah, set out to win the epic challenge – and she was victorious!
“It was a life goal for me, and it’s an ultimate goal in running. It’s hard to get into to start with, and it’s very hard to get a good time,” says Catherine, 34, “but it’s the best race I’ve ever run; emotionally and physically. I trained so hard for it.”
Girl with the Digit Tattoo
Catherine finished in 29 hours, 55 minutes and 29 seconds, the first woman out of around 20 taking part. It’s such an achievement that she had those numbers tattooed on her back.
“Thirty hours is very hard to get,” she says. “I had such a good race. You’ve got to be in a positive frame of mind, you’ve got to be sensible, you’ve got to be consistently taking in your oxygen. It’s all about managing yourself.”
Catherine didn’t even pause to eat, but grabbed fruit and sandwiches on the go, as well as taking salt tablets. And while many of the runners needed medical attention, the only mishap faced by Catherine was easily dealt with by her support team of four.
“I got an open wound on the back of my foot from ripping off a band-aid on a blister, but we dealt with that,” she said. “I was really lucky. About 95 percent of people ended up needing medical help. Either they weren’t breathing properly or eating properly, or they ran too fast.”
Catherine says she wanted to win so much, that it’s what kept her going. “Sometimes you get a little tired, but you just need to tell yourself it’s going to end. When I overtook first place I had 45km to go. Yes, it was really mentally challenging. But you just think to yourself, ‘This is my one chance’.”
Friend in a Coma
Catherine had a special reason to keep running. She was raising money for a charity called Back on Your Bike. As reported in Ahlan!, it has been set up to fund the rehabilitation of Richard Holland, 30, a South African expat left in a ‘waking’ coma after being knocked off his bike in Dubai in October 2012. Catherine knew Richard. “We used to play touch rugby on the beach together,” she says. “Any one of us could be in that situation at any time in life.”
It was Catherine’s second attempt at the race, and this time she was an incredible six hours faster. She hopes to take part next year and aims to beat the world record of 26 hours, 16 minutes and 12 seconds. And she has another epic feat planned, too: Catherine hopes to run from Dubai to Muscat, Oman – a distance of 440km. She says: “It’s a challenge for myself! I’m going to try and do it in under 72 hours.”
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