x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai resident’s 250km Sahara charity run

An Australian lawyer will make a gruelling seven-day rune through the Sahara Desert to raise money for a mental health facility in the UAE.

Doris Matlok trains on the beach in JBR for a 250-kilometre desert run. Lee Hoagland / The National
Doris Matlok trains on the beach in JBR for a 250-kilometre desert run. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // Contract lawyer Doris Matlok is about to take on a gruelling fresh challenge - and all in a bid to help others.

She will go on a seven-day run through the searing heat of the Sahara Desert to raise funds for a centralised mental health organisation for UAE residents who suffer from depression and bipolar disorders.

"I have a lot of friends with depression and I looked high and low in the UAE and as far as I know there is nothing here," Ms Matlok said.

"I ended up going back to Australia and found the organisation called Black Dog Institute. I thought this would be a good platform at some point in time to create something like that here.

"When the race is over, I will try to set up a national body that would be a similar concept to the Black Dog Institute," she said. The institute is named after a common nickname for depression being a "black dog".

Participants in the seven-day Sahara Race, which begins on October 28, will cover 250 kilometres in temperatures that will rise as high as 50°C during the day and will drop to minus 20°C at night. For the first four days she will run 40km each day; on days five and six she plans to run 80km nonstop, leaving just 10km to finish on the last day.

During the race she will have to carry all her supplies, which include food, water, a sleeping bag and emergency equipment. Her backpack will weigh at least 10 kilos.

To help her get used to the additional weight, she wears a 10kg weight vest at home and has even bought a high table so she can stand while she works on her laptop or when she eats.

An Australian,Ms Matlok 43, has completed two Ironmans - a 3.86km swim followed by a 180km bike ride and a marathon run - but this race on hard and soft-packed sand and over dunes, will be like nothing she has attempted before.

She runs 50km a week along JBR beach and to increase her endurance she has been going to InnerFight classes, a type of cross-fit training.

"There is no doubt they [the Ironmans] are a huge help as she knows what pain feels like," said Marcus Smith, the founder of InnerFight.

"However I am sure Doris would agree that the approach we have adopted to maximising performance for this run is very different from the way she has prepared in the past."

Ms Matlok, who struggled with injury and illness during her Ironman races, was hoping for good health.

"I would like to do a race where I am not sick and injured," she said. "With this one, I am taking a different approach. I would rather be under-cooked than over-done.

"Mentally, I am in a good place for the race. Physically, I'm not so sure about my running because I've had a few niggles and stuff but I know I will finish that race."

Ms Matlok's training sessions also involve nutritional supplements, rest and recovery plans, and mental fitness.

"The way we have set about preparing Doris physically will lead to less mental suffering during her run but we are both under no illusion that there may be some dark times over the 250km," Mr Smith said. "What I have seen in Doris is an insane ability to focus. Her determination is on another level.

"These things will help her through and her mental toughness is almost the icing on the cake so she can enjoy the ride."

 

eharnan@thenational.ae