14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, 1 August 2014 – A Cuban balsera, a rafter, has set herself a new challenge. This time it’s not about escaping Cuban on a fragile craft, but rather crossing the Sahara desert. Iliana Hernandez will cross 144 miles of sand dunes, luging food, water and a sleeping bag, over seven long days.
The Marathon des Sables will hold its next event from April 3-12, 2015. This intrepid Guantanameran will be the only Cuban put to the test, although before her another compatriot tried it in 2008. To overcome exhaustion and physical pain, Iliana is counting on her will, an impressive physical preparation and the experience of having been a Cuban rafter.
In the midst of her hard training the young woman took a few minutes to share the challenge that awaits her with the readers of 14ymedio.
Question: The Marathon des Sables has a long tradition and is considered one of the toughest races in the world. Can you tell us more about your organization, requirements and concept?
Answer: It started in 1985 and is indeed one of the most demanding races in the world. It constitutes a great challenge for many elite athletes as well as for others who, without possessing excellent physical form, want to prove themselves in a fight where the most important thing is not the legs but the will.
The contest lasts for seven days during which there are six stages. It takes place in the Moroccan Sahara. Each runner must be self-sufficient in terms of their own food and everything they need along the 144 miles. Backpack, sleeping bag and other things for survival become your inseparable allies for one week. The contest is divided into six stages that range from 12 to 48 miles. The terrain is desert with many stones, areas of ancient dry lakes and sand dunes. And if that’s not enough, the runners must suffer temperatures that reach 120°F.