How I Ran 40 Marathons in 49 Days – Without Getting a Single Blister

Mila Guli ran 40 marathons in seven deserts in seven weeks to raise awareness for the global  water crisis, here she discusses the highs and lows of her journey 

When I was 22  I injured my back in a swimming accident,  and a doctor told me I’d never run again. My first thought was, ‘Nobody can set limits on what I can and can’t do.’ I vowed to prove him wrong.

Nine months later  I did my first Ironman triathlon. My bike broke and I didn’t know how  to fix it so I walked most of that leg and only just finished before the cut-off time.  I wanted to prove that  I could do it properly so  I signed up for another one; I’ve since done six Ironman triathlons.

'Nobody can set limits on what I can and can’t do'
‘Nobody can set limits on what I can and can’t do’

But my greatest challenge came this year when, aged 45, I ran 40desert marathons in seven weeks, starting in the Tabernas Desert in Spain and ending in the Mojave Desert in the US – via Jordan, Antarctica, Australia, South Africa and Chile.

I ran 1,049 miles and emerged with no blisters and all 10 toenails intact

The temperatures were extreme – they fluctuated between -20C in some deserts and 47C in others – but I wanted to raise awareness of the global water shortage crisis,  so running in a desert was fitting. I started training in June 2015, running long distances to build my stamina, and I began the challenge on February 1.

My biggest worry was my feet – I knew that  I had the determination to do the challenge. The only thing that could let me down was a foot injury, so a podiatrist travelled with me for five of the seven deserts and ensured I wore proper footwear and clean socks each day.

Thanks to her,  I ran 1,049 miles and emerged with no blisters and all 10 toenails intact.  The most rewarding part of the experience was the people I met. While I was running in the Simpson Desert, Australia, two men stopped their car to ask why I was running in 47C heat.

I told them about my challenge and they zoomed off leaving behind a cloud of red dust.  Then 30 minutes later they reappeared with cold drinks and ice creams for me. They said it was their small way of supporting me. I was so touched, I almost cried.

The temperatures of Mina's run were extreme – they fluctuated between -20C in some deserts and 47C in others
The temperatures of Mina’s run were extreme – they fluctuated between -20C in some deserts and 47C in others

During my last day in Jordan, as I was running through Petra, a man came up to me and asked whether I was ‘that runner’. He had read  my story in a local newspaper and had stuck copies of it on all the bedroom doors of the hotel he owned to encourage people to use less water. People like him are why I did it – they make every step worthwhile.

Telegraph

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