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AUS faculty members take part in 90km marathon
Three American University of Sharjah (AUS) faculty members will be taking part in a 90km ultra-marathon to be held in South Africa on June 3, 2012. Dr. Paul Williams, Associate Dean of the School of Business and Management; Dr. Nicholas Ashill, Head of the Department of Marketing at the School of Business and Management; and Lee Mitchell, Director of the Wellness Program at the university, have trained for the event for the last 12 months in the UAE desert and the Hajjar mountains.
First held in 1921, the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa puts 18,000 endurance athletes from all over the world to the test in a grueling 90km race that begins in Pietermaritzburg and finishes in Durban. The marathon course consists of 7,000 feet of descent and 5,000 feet of ascent and must be completed within 12 hours.
Starting in 1921 to honor those who were killed in World War One, the Comrades Ultra Marathon has taken place every year since, except during World War Two. This year sees its 87th iteration. The event is considered something of a national treasure in South Africa and attracts millions of spectators and television viewers. In the event's history, there have been seven deaths up to the 2007 marathon.
"It's going to be a long day but it's what we signed up for. By competing in the marathon, we're hoping to push our bodies beyond the limits and set an example to others at AUS," said Ashill. "So far we've run up to 55kms, but we have no idea whether or not our bodies can run for a full 90 km," he added.
"We've trained from one to six hours a day, six days a week for the last several months," said Mitchell. The four keys to success are mental, physical, nutrition and hydration. If we fail at any of these things, our chance of completing the race goes down."
Williams, Ashill and Mitchell are no strangers to endurance events, having competed in the Four Peaks Mountain Challenge team race in the United Kingdom in 2010. They have also ran up and down the four highest mountains in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland over a 48-hour period and have competed many marathons, triathlons and cycling events over the past 30 years.