Stage 5: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

In case there was any ever doubt, I’m delighted to announce that Team Asma’i has broken the back of the Gobi March: we smashed the long stage, finishing this morning at 8am after 80 km, 24 hours, multiple emotional breakdowns and temperatures in the mid 40sC. Yesterday, last night and this morning, Nelofar and Zainab proved that they were Free to Run, and showed all of us that Afghan women are capable of ANYTHING!

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Leah Anathan
Stage 4: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

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!

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Leah Anathan
Stage 3: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

Today Team Asma'i overcame immense challenges and came together during some really dark moments...but it certainly wasn't easy. It was another slow start, but we were confident that Nelo and Zainab would pick up speed once we got warmed up. The scenery was stunning as the path followed along the Tian Shan mountains. Unfortunately, however, just when we were getting into our stride, the heavens opened up and it started to pour. And pour. And pour.

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Leah Anathan
Stage 2: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

Today was a day of extreme lows and highs...but what a strong finish! Day two is done! After another cold night in the yurt, Team Asma'i lined up to begin the 40 km stage two. While it was sunny and warm when we first woke up, by the time it hit 8am, it was snowy down pretty hard. No one really wanted to believe that we would have TWO days of bad weather, so we just layered up and told each other that the snow would end soon.

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Leah Anathan
Stage 1: The 2015 Gobi March with Zainab and Nelofar

Team Asma'I has finished day one intact!  But it was a much tougher day than we were anticipating. After a very chilly and sleepless night at camp, we woke up this morning to discover that the mountains around us had been covered in snow overnight. What a sight! We were all a bit in disbelief that race day had finally come. After six months of training - and perhaps a lifetime of dreaming - we finally made it to the start line. It was go time.

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Leah Anathan
Introducing Zainab and Nelofar - Afghanistan's first Ultramarathon Team

Free to Run is currently supporting two Afghan women in their efforts to compete in the Gobi March 2015, a 250 kilometer, 7-day self supported footrace which is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series. Nelofar and Zainab will be sharing their progress with us through a weekly blog. Read on to find out about their training, share in their successes, and learn about the immense challenges they face as women in Afghanistan… and please join us in cheering them on.

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Leah Anathan
Press Release: The first-ever Afghan Ultramarathon Team

In a country where women risk their safety simply walking alone, two women are training for a self-supported, seven-day race across the Chinese desert. Two Afghan women, along with Free to Run founder Stephanie Case, comprise the first-ever Afghan ultramarathon team. Their first appearance will be at the Gobi March 2015, a 250 kilometer, 7-day self-supported foot race which is part of the 4 Deserts Race Series.

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Leah Anathan