Hey Everyone!

Just like that a new blog roll begins for the 4 Deserts Race series this year to become the first female in the world to complete the Grand Slam Plus! I cannot wait to get to the starting line in Namibia. With just 6 days to go, I will entertain you in this post with a summary of the final preparations before I jump on my flights starting the travel to Africa on the 27th at 8am.

TRAINING: Training has been spectacular for this segment. The most prepared yet I would say. Yesterday I finished up my last week of higher volume training resting at 84 miles. This week I will taper up until the race with small runs and pack walks until race day. I am sure I will go totally stir crazy with the dramatic drop in volume but it is necessary. I have continued to implement in my core work and daily squats and side shuffles with resistance to stay strong and injury free. This last segment of training has been great to put a 100% focus on running as the ski season commenced. Training between Sri Lanka and Namibia began with 1 week totally off, then 4 with a mix of skimo training / ski touring and then 4 weeks specifically running, 1-week taper. For Gobi it will be full on run mode.

TRAVEL: Our travel has in a way already began for the adventure. A drive to SLC then on to Hood River to see my coffee roasting business – Stoked Roasters and then on to California for the last stop before the International flights begin on Wednesday. Travel will meander through Seattle, Paris, Cape Town and on to Walvis Bay before arriving in Swakopmund, Namibia. I love the travel portion. The jetlag can be a bit tricky on day one of the race, but I just love the cultural differences, and meeting many individuals from all over. This is also a favorite feature of an International race as 40+ countries tow the starting line. Personally, I am proud to run for USA and Canada as a duel citizen.

FINAL PREPARATIONS ON MY PACK: As of now, my pack is 90% dialed with a few more tweaks and additions here and there. Currently, it is sitting at 16lbs which is great. I will add a couple more items and hope for it to rest around 17-17.5 on day one which seems to be a sweet spot for me. For Sri Lanka, I removed almost every luxury item that I could think of and almost took it too far where I really missed certain items such as a sleeping pad, and an iPod. I still have quite a few luxury items which each day something seems to still come out as the competitor list is sent through to us and nerves kick in. =) I will continue to walk around and run with it until I fly out to manage and more tweaks. My favorite items continue to be the OMM 25L pack, Rough Country bottles and holder,

Food is all set for the race. I am so honored this year to be sponsored by Expedition Foods. They have a great assortment of high calorie foods that are light weight. A favorite for me out there is their mac and cheese (804 calories / 161g). This round I am also taking 4 crave items for emergency. These include coconut shavings, jerkey, Fritos and Sweedish Fish. My staple electrolyte plan includes Drip Drop and Salt Stick salt pills. For running fuel I use a mix of marcona almonds, salty almonds and then Honey Stinger energy chews, Honey Stinger vanilla waffles, and Honey Stinger gel with caffeine.

LYEMLIGHT FOUNDATION: This year I am running in honor of the LymeLight Foundation. Their mission is to provide grants to enable eligible children and young adults with Lyme disease to receive proper treatment and medication as well as raising awareness about Lyme disease. Like me their journey is not a sprint as they fight through relentless symptoms and treatment protocols. Please help me this year to raise awareness and funds for this organization. We have an auxiliary page set up here (http://lymelightfoundation.org/auxiliary-event/4-deserts-grand-slam-plus/) where you can donate to each km along the Grand Slam Plus journey, each event or come up with your own amount. I cannot wait to provide grants for these grant recipients so that they can heal and have the opportunity to get back outside to explore.

So there you have it folks, race 2 of 5 is just 6 days away! I cannot wait to share the journey with you and inspire the masses to hop outside to move their bodies and explore. Follow along on my blog, Instagram @wonderwomanjax and Facebook at /JaxMariashKoudele. Lance will update them daily.