GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A marathon is a total of 26.2 miles, which is hard on its own, but how about doing the race up one of the highest mountains in the world?
Well, that’s exactly what two Gulf County women did this month. Lydia Miles and Mary Holley love to run, but not in your typical race.
They are ultra-marathon runners from Wewahitchka who find the most interesting places to run.
“So we actually did Machu Picchu about five years ago and the same race director puts on a race at Kilimanjaro so we were like let’s try that one. So it’s actually been in the works for about five years,” Lydia Miles said.
At the beginning of August, that’s what they did.
They trained for 16 weeks before it, with a lot of 4 a.m. runs before work, and weekend runs that were six miles or more.
They even went to the little Grand Canyon in Georgia to practice with elevation.
“Training was tough, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that we hadn’t done before so I felt pretty good about the training. Thinking seven hours was good, but not realizing that 21 hours was gonna be the race. I think we could have trained a little bit harder,” Mary Holley said.
The two of them then traveled to Africa and hiked for four days up the mountain to their base camp, which was also the starting point of the race.
“I can barely breathe here and we got another 4,000 feet to go up,” Holley said.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the two, as they got really sick two days before the race at that base camp.
“So we got kinda worried, I knew we would finish I just didn’t know how much suffering it would take to finish,” Miles said.
Even with the obstacles in their way, going through the tough and changing terrain with their guide leading the way, they did finish. And Holley even became the oldest woman to do so.
“It means a lot because I’m not an athlete, I work hard, but I’m not an athlete, I’m not gifted at running. I’m just persistent,” Holley said.
While it was a challenging race, both women agree the best part wasn’t actually crossing the finish line – but rather reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“The best part was I just sat on a rock and just looked at the clouds cause they were below me and I just soaked it in for a good five or ten minutes in silence. It was awesome,” Miles said.
The two women don’t plan on stopping here.
They want to be a part of the Seven Continent Club, they only have to run races in three more to be a part of that.