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Kate Eversole to compete in Marathon des Sables

Kate Eversole

Ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on the planet, the Marathon des Sables or ‘Marathon of the Sands’ truly takes endurance events to the next level. Known simply as the MdS, the gruelling course takes 5-6 days to complete as it traverses difficult terrain across the Sahara desert; one of the world’s most inhospitable climates.

Pushing their minds and bodies to the absolute limit, participants must endure temperatures of over 50 degrees celsius in this ultra-marathon, which stretches 156 miles. To put the distance into perspective; it’s like running from London to Dover, back again, and then doing a 10km run on your return!

The race, which was set up in 1986 by Patrick Bauer, is now in its 28th consecutive year and continues to grow in popularity. The international event is open to both individuals and teams and attracts over 1,000 runners each year from all over the world.  Preparation is the key to completing the event and a good training schedule beforehand makes all the difference – the official MdS website recommends starting physical preparation 3-5 months prior to the race.

One competitor of this year’s MdS is Kate Eversole, who is participating to raise money for MENCAP and has been working with the GSK Human Performance Lab in the lead up to the event. They explore science to develop better training, recovery, nutrition and competition programmes to help people achieve peak performance.

As part of her rigorous preparation for the event, Kate has visited the GSK Human Performance Lab (GSK HPL) a number of times to undertake various tests. The results of these tests have been analysed thoroughly to inform the creation of a tailored nutrition and competition programme which is specific to her needs and will help her achieve peak performance levels during the race.

One of the most useful tests was conducted in the GSK HPL Environmental Chamber, which mimicked the environment that Kate will have to endure in the Sahara desert. The results provided some really useful insights into her state of hydration in these conditions and allowed the GSK HPL scientists to produce a water intake strategy that will be optimal for Kate’s body during the race. During the MdS, Kate will have to ration water, so having a well thought out strategy around what to drink and when to drink it is key to making sure she avoids dehydration.

Usually, one of three things defeat people taking part in the MdS:

1)    They do not have the mental strength to complete it
2)    They sustain a foot injury, which prevents them from continuing
3)    They pick up a stomach bug which puts them out of action

Kate is well aware of the common issues that prevent people from finishing the MdS and has gone through an extensive training regime to try to avoid these unwanted pitfalls. With the help of the GSK Human Performance Lab, she has been able to prepare extensively and is confident that she can conquer the Marathon des Sables; raising money for a worthy cause in the process.

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