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Rivera banks on gruelling schedule to meet Marathon des Sables challenge

08/09/2009 10:14 PM

Dubai: A Dubai resident is pushing her body to the limits in preparation for one of the world's toughest endurance races.

Veronica Rivera, a client relations manager with Barclays Global Investors, the asset management arm of Barclays Bank, has entered the Marathon des Sables, a six-day, 230km endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

The 30-year old has embarked on a gruelling training schedule to ensure she is in peak condition for the challenge next April. She runs from her home in Dubai Marina to her office at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) three times a week. She also attends boot camp three mornings a week and jogs with local running clubs across Dubai.

The Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands), is widely considered the toughest foot race on Earth and will be held in stages from April 2-12. Participants will experience mid-day temperatures of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and underfoot conditions ranging from sand dunes to uneven, rocky ground.

Veronica, from the UK, told Gulf News yesterday she couldn't wait for the event to begin. She said: "I started running after graduating from university in London; I was so poor I couldn't afford to join a gym. The first time I ran around the block I was totally out of breath and my face turned purple. But I continued to push myself and three years ago I ran the London marathon. Since then I have run the New York, Amsterdam and Dubai marathons.

"After the Dubai marathon last year I felt I needed another challenge, something completely different. I knew of the Marathon des Sables but I always thought it was for people who were off their head! However, I have learnt it is amazing what your body can do in extreme conditions.

"Only two weeks ago I ran the Swiss Alpine Marathon, which took place on pretty treacherous terrain. There was obviously a lot of snow and coming from the UAE, the freezing temperatures were challenging and exhilarating in equal measure.

"The main thing to remember with endurance races is they are 75 per cent mental and 25 per cent physical. The fittest person in the world would struggle in the Marathon des Sables if they went into it with the wrong attitude. I am quite a stubborn and determined person so hopefully that will put me in good stead."

Competitors have to carry everything they need for the race. They also have to prepare their own food throughout the race.

Veronica, who is in the process of deciding which charity to run for, added: "The conditions will be arduous but we also have to think about self-sufficiency. I have been taking nutritional advice and there will also be a fair bit of orienteering involved. When I tell people I'm running the Marathon des Sables a lot of people are shocked. There's no doubt it will be a life-changing experience but hopefully it will help me realise my full potential."


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