Interview with Selina McCole: “Dream and make it happen!”

She did it! Selina McCole holding up the Aidha banner in the Sahara Desert

After a gruelling six days, Selina McCole raced towards the finishing point of the 250 km Marathon Des Sables, raising high the flag of Aidha in the Saharan desert. Selina shares her experience of running “the toughest footrace on earth.”

Written By: Preethy Sajan

A trail of runners across the Sahara Desert for the Marathon des Sables

An average temperature of 42 degrees, a bag of supplies weighing 9kgs, a 250 km track charted on endless expanse of sand dunes. This is just a glimpse of the Marathon Des Sables. Fully aware of the task ahead, Selina says, “Over the past year or two, I’ve been increasingly reflecting on the fact I don’t want to be lying on my deathbed, regretting not having made time for things I really wanted to do.”  


Climbing up the dunes with determination

Once she made up her mind, Selina found a trainer and put in 11 months of hard training, running nearly 2,379 miles. Never once doubting her physical and mental endurance, she says, “This was about endurance — having a good engine, as I like to call it — and just being able to keep going, no matter what or how I felt.”

Taking each blistered step with a smile

The race is split into five different stages: Day 1 – 34KM; Day 2 – 41.3KM; Day 3 – 37.5KM; Day 4 – 84.3KM; Day 5 – rest day; Day 6 – 42.2KM; Day 7 – 17.7KM, solidarity stage which is not timed but does affect the overall standing. She recounts the punishing six days of strong headwind, heat, unappetizing food, water rations, living in primitive style tents, blisters on feet and the rucksack. She says, “I was determined not to lose my top 10 women position, so kept motoring on!”

Victory for our Aidha Champion

Selina applauds her fellow runners, “The race was full of interesting people, many who had gone through their own personal challenges of lost limbs, burns survivor, cancer sufferers… I had nothing to complain about by comparison. There are many refugees living in comparable (indeed worse) make-shift tents with no idea when they might move on to better conditions.”

Selina hopes the fund raising will reach around SGD30,000. She signs off with words of encouragement for her Aidha students, “If you have a dream — such as returning home or starting your own business — take action to make it happen. Don’t let it just remain a dream. Create a plan and work towards achieving your goal.”

Photos courtesy of Selina McCole

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