Solman ready for Sahara desert race

September 24, 2009

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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 ultra-marathoner who for the last eight months has been balancing family life and work as SFU’s ombudsperson with a brutal training regimen to prepare for the physical challenge of his life.

On Oct. 25, Solman and his two Team Trailwinders companions—Coquitlam entrepreneur Marc Bremner and website developer Lara Rantoul—will join 127 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) ultra-marathon 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.

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 run more than 2400 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,, and donate to the team Variety fund and follow their individual blogs at


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Marc Bremner

Thank you for this wonderful article. Great job in telling our story. I'd like to add, the greatest lesson I've learned is the sincere generosity of people and what the possibilities are if one genuinely gives of themself. This gives us strength as a team. We are ready.

Lyle Bremner

Life is full of challenges. Those who are brave enough and courageous enough to put themselves to the test are rewarded in more ways than one can is a self-less approach toward a great goal. These kinds of memories last forever and touch many. Good Luck to all of you.


It would be appropriate to put "toughest foot race on the planet" in quotations. Badwater is much tougher.


Go Jay ! Los Ninos will be routing for you, and come on, be honest, who needs a gym when you have a Joshua! Good luck to all of you :-)


Hey Guys,

Just recently ran my first marathon in Maui this past September with TNT. We were raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. The experience was like no other and am now addicted to marathon running like all of you. You are all truly inspiring and have given me a goal to shoot for. Thanks a bunch, Adam.

Marc Bremner

Well Bob, I suppose you have a point. Badwater is "a different animal". Oh by the way, Jack Denness was at Sahara Race 2009 with us, you know, "Badwater Jack". A 12 time finisher of Badwater. He DNF'ed. It was one hot and difficult race "Sahara 09" was. Hotter than Badwater. One needs to develope a proper perspective before making an uninformed comment. Sorry, I just needed to add my 2 cents.

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