Running for a reason - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Running for a reason

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison area has a plethora of beautiful walking and running trails, but as Diana Henry explains, they could in no way, prepare Susan Jones for the journey she was about to take.

Jones is an avid runner. And as a UW-Madison grad, she's spent quite a bit of time running the trails and sidewalks around town.

But just over a year ago, Susan started planning the run of her life, in a place pretty much the exact opposite of Madison.

Susan, her sister Barb and Barb's friend Amber all love to run, so the trio decided to lace up their running shoes for a reason, a reason that took them overseas.

A group called "Racing the Planet" organized the race: 155 miles across the Sahara desert, in just seven days.

Their website says it all: "the events take place in the driest, hottest, coldest and windiest places on earth."

And sand was Susan's biggest challenge.

"So we got sand into our shoes and it just rubbed and caused blisters. We started getting subungal hematomas underneath your toenails ... "it took me two weeks after the race to get shoes back on."

They provided the racers water at checkpoints and at night, and some shelter. Otherwise, the racers carry everything, so Susan learned to travel light.

"I learned I should've traveled lighter. My sister and I actually had the heaviest packs at the race."

The Sahara race raised money for a program called "Operation Smile" which pays for cleft pallet surgeries for needy children in Third World countries.

Susan and her friends ran for those children and for Emily, Amber's sister.

"Amber's sister had muscular dystrophy and died a couple of years ago and she has another sister who's afflicted with it."

The three asked for donations, not to pay for their expenses, but for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Emily's foundation.

"You have the opportunity to go out there and do this and raise money to send kids with Muscular Dystrophy to camp over the summer and stuff. It was really inspirational and it really helped us focus and train and we got there and be like alright we got to get this done."

Susan's team finished 120 out of 150 and first in their age group.

The participants ranged in age and from all over the world.

Susan said there was even a 76 year old man from England so if he could do it, then she could too.

Susan isn't done Racing the Planet. There are actually 4 deserts in the series, and next up: the Gobi Desert.

But that one will have to wait a couple of years, because Susan just started veterinarian school.

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