Stage 4: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

June 3, 2015

Nelofar and Zainab have pushed their way through day four - 160km done! Only the long stage to go and then a victory run to the finish!

After quite a tough and emotional day yesterday, I think we all needed a bit of a mental break today. Thankfully, other than a brief period of wind and rain, the weather cooperated. In fact, it did a 180 and we found ourselves fighting off dehydration in 35C+ weather for most of the day! It was a rough start, but as we have learned, Nelofar and Zainab just take a bit of time to find their feet in the morning. Nelofar mastered the art of the fast march today, which was impressive to see. With sheer determination, she pushed her poles into the ground and pushed forward. Zainab was experiencing quite a bit of knee pain today, but Nelofar was the one to step up and talk her through the course.

Virginie, Belinda and I walked ahead, leaving the women in peace to figure out their own pace. We are here to support them and push them, but ultimately they have to will themselves through the race. It was such a lovely sound to hear them chatter away in Dari and giggle every once in a while. Despite the pain, Nelo and Zainab are soaking up every moment of this experience, enjoying the chance to walk and run freely in the outdoors without having to worry about their safety.

We have a huge challenge ahead though. We are facing 80 km tomorrow, which is going to really test Nelo's and Zainab's physical and mental limits (and maybe ours too!). It may take us 24 hours or longer. But we are up for it. And when we are done? There will only be 10 km left for Afghanistan's First Ultramarathon Team!!

Thanks for your messages of support. Nelo and Zainab are enjoying meeting new friends around camp and they say hello to their moms. (Me too). Check out our other programs on our website and please consider supporting our work!

Leah Anathan