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Race Reports

races to test ourselves and know that there are risks involved but you never expect the worst to happen.

In the weeks that followed I did start questioning why I was attempting this challenge. At the start it was just a crazy idea as no woman had done it, but now that I was half way through, and had seen the risks first hand, it made me think. I was doing it for Daddy and that is what kept me going.

Once again it was back to the knee specialist to have my knee scanned before the trainers went back on in preparation for the Sahara Race at the beginning of October.

As soon as I landed in Cairo, the usual nerves kicked in. Theoretically, this was meant to be the easiest of all the races, but my body was beginning to feel the strain of the year. Two of my fellow grand slammers had dropped out by day 2, both of whom were normally very strong guys. Mentally it was the toughest due to the monotonous landscape… sand, sand and yet more sand! My knee was the worst it had been due to the endless soft sand. The long stage of 96 km went through the Valley of the Whales which was stunning and helped keep my mind off the pain. As with the other races, I decided to kick on through the night as I knew that if I stopped at the optional overnight camp, I’d completely seize up and be in a whole world of

trouble. Thankfully, through a haze of strong painkillers, I hobbled over the finishing line in front of the Pyramids to finish the third desert.

Worryingly, we only had six weeks before we had to be in Ushuaia for The Last Desert. Very little exercise was done, it was more a case of trying to help the body recover before its final test of the year, and to finish finding all the specialist equipment that was needed.

57 of us boarded the boat and set sail across the Drake Passage for Antarctica. The crossing was some of the roughest seas I have ever experienced. Serious cabin fever began to set in and we were all very relieved to finally see land – even though it meant we were about to start our toughest test. The start of the race was delayed due to bad weather but luckily a pod of orca’s as well as a humpback whale and her calf kept us entertained beside the boat for an hour or two.

Stepping foot on Antarctica was very surreal – we were at the bottom of the world and only had penguins as company. The course varied from compacted snow and ice to knee deep soft snow. It was also very hard to differentiate between the ground and the skyline, even with our special polar glasses. Because there is very little darkness, we were out on the course for longer but over fewer days. The final

finishing line, at 9 pm at Dorian Bay, was incredible. Complete and utter exhaustion combined with the realisation that I had finally finished the challenge – I have to confess that there were definitely tears!

Looking back on the last year, I still can’t believe that I’ve done it – the first British woman to complete the 4 Desert Grand Slam.

I’ve pushed myself to the limit both physically and mentally. The camara- derie amongst my tent mates and fellow competitors was incredible and I’d never have finished without them.

There were definitely a couple of 'moments' along the way due to pain and I have since discovered that I’ve a badly strained left LCL and a hairline stress fracture in my right foot. Once I’ve fully recovered, I’ll have to start looking for the next challenge!

Lucy Rivers Bulkeley December 2010

http:// www.4desertchallenge.

In 2011 Lucy was awarded the Endurance Fundraiser of the Year by for a challenge that most professional athletes could only dream of achieving.

As a non-athlete, Lucy completed the famous 4 Desert Grand Slam Challenge, risking her life in the most extreme conditions, to become the first British woman to accomplish the 4,155 mile desert runs across the Gobi, Atacama, Sahara and Antarctic deserts in one calendar year.

Lucy raised in excess of £35,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of her father.

The judges commended her incredibly fearless attitude and enormous courage.

(photo courtesy of RacingthePlanet) February/March 2011 | Ultrarunning World 11

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