This time next week, in the name of education, a fearless and fit Allston teacher will square off against 155-miles of sand dunes, desert mountains, 120 degree heat, snakes and scorching sun.
On Sunday, Elizabeth Byron, 29, will set off on The Marathon des Sables, a six-day ultra-marathon across the world's hottest desert - The Moroccan Sahara.
So far she has raised $28,714, but hopes to reach a goal of $50,000 to buy new laptops for her sixth grade students at Gardner Pilot Academy, an urban public school in Allston.
“It’s arguably hardest running race in world,” said Byron, who started training in August. “But I’m excited about pushing the human spirit into the next level of capability. I’m really excited about the mental and physical challenge.”
About 900 runners will participate in the trek, which is truly like no other.
Rules require that runners are self-sufficient and therefore must carry 25-pound packs, each filled with food, clothing, camping equipment, a compass and a snake venom kit.
Since the runners spread out, and are not under the watchful eyes of spectators, they are given flare guns to alert helicopters in the event of an emergency.
As for what she’s most dreading, Byron said the 120-degree forecast is “a little worrisome.”
“It’s nerve wracking but know if I stay relaxed and maintain hydration, I should be okay,” she said.
A former college swimmer and avid athlete, Byron has run marathons before, but said “I’m not much of a trainer. Even for Ironman the most I ever trained was three or four weeks.”
Regardless, she was grateful to stumble upon The Marathon des Sables while running a Google search for the “hardest running race in the world.”
“It’s a crazy race, but I think it’s even crazier for me to be teaching students in a technology oriented society and not be able to give them access to technology, in this case, laptops,” Byron said.
One-hundred percent of donations go toward the laptops; Byron is footing the bill for her transportation and marathon costs.
Anyone interested in donating can do so at runforlaptops.org.
Check out the teaser for the 2013 MdS: