Jennifer Murray, a 71-year-old world helicopter record holder and grandmother, is getting ready to undertake 'Racing the Planet - Nepal', a 250km endurance race across the Himalayas. Starting on 20 November, Jennifer is running to raise funds for the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute.
If she completes the race - which will see her tackle rough tracks and climb and descend a total more than 61,300ft (18,700m) - she will win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female to finish an ultramarathon. She is by no means a novice, however - having completed her first ultramarathon across the Sahara desert in 2009. Here, Jennifer blogs as she prepares for her daunting task...
Two weeks to go and I'm off - having had a serious taste of what is in store as I've just completed a two week 'training trek' in those mighty Himalayas.
The trek was a fun one with a group of ladies, but proved way tougher than expected. Namely the cold nights, (it snowed ), sleeping in tents, the effects of altitude and the ferocious winds (with accompanying dust) which howl up the Kali-Gandaki river valley every afternoon and evening.
On the plus side, we had a great group, the scenery was breathtaking, we had porters carrying all our equipment, we enjoyed frequent stops and were spoilt rotten with delicious cooked lunches and dinners that our intrepid cook mustered out of nowhere.
Now, I am enjoying two weeks of much needed R&R with my family before heading back to a much, much tougher programme. No porters, no cooks and many, many more hours on the trail. Check out the race website and get an idea of what it entails.
We are only provided with water (every 10kms and a tent at each campsite. Everything else we have to carry - everything we need for the entire week is in our backpacks. It's difficult to get the starting weight under nine kilos (without water), which in my case amounts to 20% of my body weight! We are told we will be ascending a total of just over 29,000 vertical feet over the course of the race - and descending over 29,300ft.
The race attracts world class ultra runners along with those who just hope to finish. I fall firmly into the latter category. It's all about a very personal challenge. We take off at 8am each morning and I am unlikely to reach the next camp in daylight.
Why do I do it, especially at my venerable age? Well I hope to inspire others to live their dreams and that life doesn't end at 40 or 50 or 60 or 70!
I am raising funds for The Friends of The Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). Having spent many months in the polar regions whilst attempting the first ever helicopter flight around the world by the south and North Pole (and succeeding!) I came to know and appreciate the terrific field work they do, including climate change.
The Institute also houses the world's premier polar library and extensive archives, artworks, images, film and sound recordings on the history of polar exploration and science. As well as research, the Institute informs and educates a much wider audience, supplying resources and expertise to governments, the worldwide polar community, the media and schools.
If you would like to donate or learn more, please go to www.spri.cam.ac.uk/friends/donate/
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