Squadron Leader Daniela Nowalski has served in the RAF for 13 years. She recently completed the gruelling Marathon Des Sables, raising around £2,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund. In this post Daniela tells us what it was like running across the Sahara Desert – for six days!
I initially supported the RAFBF for the North Pole Marathon in 2008.
I decided to continue my support because the RAF contribution in Afghanistan doesn’t always get as much attention as it should.
Our servicemen and women are facing danger on a daily basis and we owe them our support, which the RAF Benevolent Fund will be there to provide.
The marathon was certainly physically demanding – 150 miles in extreme heat, an unrelenting wind that felt gale force at times…and hailstones!? But it was actually much more of a mental challenge.
It is very tough being out there for so many hours and knowing you have more of exactly the same to do again and again and again over a week.
I needed to take each checkpoint as it came and couldn’t let myself think too far ahead, otherwise I would have cracked up! I think some runners dropped out because of mental exhaustion.
I am immensely proud of myself for what I put my body through, but more than that I am proud to have been part of something so huge. It was humbling to be part of such a feat of human endurance.
No words can explain the scenes when people crossed that finish line – some emotions were quite raw.
Thanks to all those who supported me, and those who sent me messages in the desert. You have no idea how it helped get me through some bleak times.
Knowing there were people back in the UK (and a husband in the Falklands) glued to the TV and internet watching every step of my progress got me through and helped more than they will ever know.
You can see video of the end of the race on YouTube.
By Daniela Nowalski