You there, reading this now, what is the furthest you’ve ever run in one solid lump? 5km? 10km? Half marathon? Full marathon maybe? Unless you’re in an extremely select core of elite ultra runners, your answer to this question is unlikely to be “400 kilometres… in the Gobi Desert.”
Step forward Iceland’s Elisabet Margeirsdóttir, who last year became the first woman on the planet to finish the infamous endurance race known as the Ultra Gobi Marathon in under 100 hours. Her time of 97 hours and 11 minutes, to put it in context, was a whole 20 hours faster than the woman who came in second (Xing Ruling of China who finished with a time of 116 hours, 16 minutes and 50 seconds).
“Her time of 97 hours and 11 minutes… was a whole 20 hours faster than the woman who came in second”
In a bid to find out more about what motivates someone like Elisabet, who by day works as a nutrition professor at the University of Iceland, to run huge distances at extreme temperatures (over 25c during the day, and as low as -15c at night, during the Ultra Gobi), we decided to reach out and see if she’d be cool with answering some of our questions. She was.
Hi Elisabet. Thanks for agreeing to speak with us. Bit of a broad question first up but what is it that you love about running so much?
What do I love about running? I guess it’s the feeling of being outside. Mostly I do trail and mountain running, so just being outside in the mountains is what I love to do. And I love to do races. Running has been part of my life for almost 15 years now so it’s a big part of me and I can’t imagine not doing it. It’s something I need to do almost every day. It’s my passion.