This Woman Is About To Run A Gruelling 251km Race


Women's Health |

It’s 251km of pure grit and heat and is dubbed the toughest foot race on earth. Meet one woman about to conquer it. 

Field Of Dreams 

Lee den Hond is the owner of an events company and has always been an avid adventurer. She’s taken on Ironman triathlons, Comrades Marathons and even Two Oceans Marathons.

Then, she decided to open a children’s centre in Hartbeespoort. The area is hugely under-serviced and it’s the children who take the brunt of the neglect. “Most children who are brought to the mobile clinic suffer from conditions related to malnutrition such as scabies, skin problems and vitamin deficiency,” says den Hond. “Many of these children have never received their scheduled immunisations or have skipped a few vaccinations, which predisposes them to secondary infections and illnesses. Many children come in with burn wounds, especially now in winter, as a result of lack of supervision from parents and use of coal stoves. Most of them are suffering from infestations of worms (ringworms and tapeworms) due to poor living conditions. We’ve also had a few cases of poisoning (paraffin or rat poisoning) and diarrhoea and vomiting.

Over and above these conditions, there are cases of minor ailments like flu, stomach aches, toothaches, and so on. It’s difficult for these children to receive help from hospitals due to lack of proper documentation (birth certificates), which makes the mobile Clinic so valuable to this community.” To combat these issues, den Hond opened the centre, called Field of Dreams. But in order to do that, she raised funds  by summiting Mount Everest.

251km
Lee den Hond, who is about to run 251km

Climbing Mount Everest Is Next-Level Cardio 

She spent a week in the Alps learning how to use crampons and other high altitude skills. It was some preparation, but she had no idea what she was letting herself in for. “Everest was a gift,” says den Hond. “But I totally underestimated what it would entail. The biggest challenge was the cold.

There’s one rope on the south side of the mountain, which every climber uses to get up and down. You climb Everest on your own, clipping into the fixed line for safety. I carried my own personal gear, my own oxygen and my own food between camps,” she says. But she made it, and with it, managed to open Field of Dreams.

Lee den Hond, holding the South African flag atop Mount Everest.
Lee den Hond, holding the South African flag atop Mount Everest.

Running 251km is Next-Next-Level Cardio 

The clinic, which provides care to children in need, is only open once a week. To raise funds for it being open permanently, den Hond is running the Marathon Des Sables, a gruelling 251km race – that’s roughly the length of six normal marathons – through 50°C weather in the Sahara Desert.

Lee will compete against elements including relentless heat, unforgiving sand dunes and white hot salt plains, to raise awareness and funds to build a much needed clinic at the Field of Dreams community centre.  Wanna support the cause? Donate to Field of Dreams here.

Want running tips? Check out these ace articles on how to become a runner. If reading about inspiring women is more your bag, check out this story on what it’s like to run a marathon on ice, and this story on sportswomen who changed the game

READ MORE ON: Fitness Real Women Running SA Women In Sport