For someone about to attempt the toughest foot race on the planet Jay Solman seems remarkably relaxed.
“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be,” says the Vancouver ultramarathoner who for the last eight months has been balancing family life and work as Simon Fraser University’s ombudsperson with a brutal training regimen to prepare for the physical challenge of his life.
On Oct. 25, Solman his two Team Trailwinders companions—Coquitlam entrepreneur Marc Bremner and website developer Lara Rantoul—will join 127 other elite athletes in Egypt for The Sahara Race, rated by Time Magazine
as one of the world's harshest endurance competitions.
The gruelling six-day, 254-km (156 mile) ultramarathon is roughly equivalent to running a marathon each day—in 30C to 50C temperatures.
Averaging 35 to 45 km a day with the longest day stretching to 84 km, the trio will endure “one of the most extreme environments on earth,” says Solman. They’ll brave suffocating heat, blinding sunlight, fierce sand storms, unimaginable physical demands and possibly scorpions, vipers and huge camel spiders before finishing at the Giza pyramids.
And they’ll carry everything they need in their backpacks, including food, gear, first aid supplies, sleeping bag and clothing. Race organizers are providing only water, medical support and a tent at night.
“People always ask me, first, ‘are you crazy?’ and second, ‘how do you find the time to train?’” says Solman. “I always reply, ‘when you love something as much as I love running, it’s easy to find the time.’ Plus we’re doing this to support Variety Children's Charities of B.C. and we’ve raised more than $6,000 to date, so it’s for a very worthy cause.”
To train for the event, the three seasoned marathoners have spent countless hours in the gym and have run more than 2,400 km, including several 50 km trail races and the Stormy 50 Mile (80 km) Ultramarathon in Squamish.
“We’ve had tremendous support from our families, friends and coworkers,” says Solman. “Now it’s time for the main event.”
Readers can track the trio’s progress live starting Oct. 24 via the Racing the Planet website, www.4deserts.com/sahararace
, and donate to the team Variety fund and follow their individual blogs at http://www.trailwinders.com/
-30- (Photo available on request)