'I hope to be able to inspire others to take risks and challenge themselves.' That's Kathleen STABLER's view of life. Kathleen, an American sports coach in her 50s, manages a gym in Albuquerque (New Mexico). There, she specialises in training endurance athletes — 'probably the best job in the world!'
Rest assured that Kathleen knows what she's talking about when she's coaching her protégés: 'I've been running forever. When I discovered trail running, an incredible world opened up to me. I love hiking, climbing, camping, skiing, snowshoeing — all kinds of outdoor activities!'
That's a good thing, since she lives in an apartment at the foot of the sublime Sandia Mountains, at an altitude of 6,500 ft. (1,980 m). 'I can walk out the door and climb up to 10,000 ft [3,000 m] in an hour,' she says, eyes glinting with mischief. But make no mistake: Kathleen's life does not revolve solely around sports. She thinks about her children every day — even though they are now in their 20s and away from home — and admits that 'a good day always ends with a glass of wine, my dog by my side and a good book. And some dark chocolate, too.' Epicurean? Absolutely!
'I'm always guided by curiosity and a taste for adventure,' she confesses. These things undoubtedly led her to register for the HALF MARATHON DES SABLES FUERTEVENTURA. 'The MDS has always fascinated me. I'm someone who runs in the mountains, at high altitudes, on technical trails. And I love it! But I wanted to see if I could become someone who runs in the desert, on the sand, in the heat. Would I be able to run and walk in any environment?' And so she registered for 120 km of running and walking in the desert environment of Fuerteventura, with the MDS MAROC, and even the brand new MDS PERU, in the back of her head.
Up to now, her most difficult sports challenges have consisted of adventures in mountain environments, some lasting several days. 'I remember one week in Ecuador running and walking at high altitudes, ending with the summit of Cotopaxi at 19,600 ft [5,897 m].' Kathleen has reached a fair few summits, including Toubkal in Morocco just recently.
This Albuquerquean's training varies depending on her goals. For the moment, with HALF MDS FUERTEVENTURA on the horizon, her training includes preparation specific to covering long distances, withstanding the heat, negotiating the sand and carrying a backpack. She generally trains for three straight loaded days, Friday through Sunday, during which she can rack up 40-60 miles (65-100 km). On weekdays, she adds one or two sessions of running, walking or cycling.
Kathleen generally trains alone. She will be doing the HALF MDS FUERTEVENTURA solo, although she does know that a couple of friends she met in Ecuador will be there too. Paradoxically, she's made her best sports memories as part of a group. 'It's incredible to share sports challenges!' she says.
Discovering new sensations, exploring new places, sharing good times — it's a safe bet that Kathleen's going to feel at home at the MDS! 'I'd take experiences and adventures over material things any day,' she concludes. Have a safe journey, Kathleen!