Face of Defense: Airman Conquers Sahara Race

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A 533rd Train­ing Squadron instruc­tor here com­plet­ed the 2010 Sahara Race in Egypt this month.

Air Force Capt. Car­rie Zed­erkof, a space-based infrared sys­tem mis­sion instruc­tor, com­pet­ed against more than 150 com­peti­tors from 36 coun­tries Oct. 9 in a race Time mag­a­zine named as one of the top 10 endurance com­pe­ti­tions in the world. 

Zederkof’s broth­er, Matt Lowe, found out about the com­pe­ti­tion online and sug­gest­ed that she compete. 

“He men­tioned that he want­ed to do it last year, three weeks before the start of the com­pe­ti­tion,” Zed­erkof said. “My dad and I tried to talk him out of it, because it was a lit­tle insane to do some­thing like that with­out train­ing for it, but we told him that we might do it with him if he wait­ed a year — and the idea just went on from there.” 

A year lat­er, on Oct. 3, Zed­erkof found her­self haul­ing a 20-pound back­pack filled with just enough gear, food and cloth­ing to last sev­en days through a six-stage, 155-mile footrace over sand and sand dunes in the world’s hottest desert. The only assis­tance pro­vid­ed was water and tents, which she did­n’t have to tote. 

“The hard­est part for me was the heat,” Zed­erkof said. “I had trained, but had­n’t been able to train in heat, because it is not very warm here. It got up to about 118 degrees Fahren­heit near­ly every day there. That was the hard­est part.” 

To over­come the heat of the desert, the cap­tain said, she con­tin­u­ous­ly con­sumed water and elec­trolytes. But that posed its own dif­fi­cul­ty, she noted. 

“It is hard to run on that much water,” Zed­erkof explained. “I def­i­nite­ly drank more water than I would nor­mal­ly drink on a run, and I end­ing up crash­ing, or ‘bonked’ as they say, towards the end of the first day. I had to walk the last three kilo­me­ters very slow­ly, because my body could­n’t han­dle it anymore.” 

At the close of the first day, Zed­erkof said, she was exhaust­ed and began to doubt her abil­i­ty to fin­ish the race. But those thoughts did­n’t last long, she said. 

“It is all about the peo­ple who help you get through the race,” she said. “That is what’s neat about this. Although it is a com­pet­i­tive race, peo­ple are not out to get each other.

We all want to fin­ish, we all want to do well, and we all are in pain. It does­n’t mat­ter how good of shape you’re in. Every­one hurts, but the peo­ple were real­ly supportive.” 

Vet­er­ans of the race men­tored Zed­erkof, show­ing her how to bal­ance elec­trolytes with water and pass­ing along help­ful tips, such as the need to snack often to make it through the day. 

“I told a cou­ple peo­ple about this race, and I did­n’t want to dis­ap­point them,” she said. “I don’t like quitting.” 

There was no quit in Zed­erkof as she pushed through the remain­der of the race, ambi­tious­ly cross­ing the Val­ley of Whales, where 40-mil­lion-year-old whale fos­sils pro­trude in what once was an ancient shal­low sea, and then on to the fin­ish line at the Great Pyra­mids of Giza. 

Zed­erkof not only com­plet­ed the sev­en-day race, but also placed well in the com­pe­ti­tion. Out of 156 com­peti­tors, 75 per­cent of whom were men, only 107 peo­ple fin­ished the race. 

Zed­erkof was the sev­enth woman and the 39th per­son over­all to cross the fin­ish line. 

The captain’s father, Ted Lowe, and her broth­er were wait­ing for her at the fin­ish line and shared in the cel­e­bra­tion of the accom­plish­ment of her two goals: to fin­ish the race and to fin­ish the race with­out injury. 

“It felt awe­some that I had fin­ished, and I was relieved that I made it,” Zed­erkof said.

Zed­erkof said she now is con­tem­plat­ing tak­ing part in anoth­er part of a series of endurance events called 4 Deserts that includes The Last Desert in Antarc­ti­ca, the Gobi March in Chi­na, and the Ata­ca­ma Cross­ing in Chile. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →