An inspirational, diverse group of women are pushing the boundaries of what’s physically possible and undertaking a once-in-a-lifetime challenge.
As part of The Speed Project, eight women will cover 340 miles across the hostile terrain of the Nevada Desert running from LA to Las Vegas.
There are no rules, no specific route to follow – it’s just about being the fastest team to get to Vegas
Battling heat, sunburn, potential dehydration and the ultimate challenge of endurance, the team – who call themselves Artemis’ Arrows – will attempt to complete the relay ultramarathon at the end of the month.
So what does it take to sign up for such an intense physical challenge? What are these women made of?
We spoke to six of the team to find out what motivates them, what they’re nervous about and what’s going to get them over that finish line.
‘In November 2017, I started to really step outside my comfort zones by training for my first triathlon, an Ironman event in July 2018. Since then, I have decided to take on events that push me mentally and physically.
‘At the same time, I want to encourage more women and men, particularly women of colour, to do things that scare them.
‘It is so liberating to achieve something after spending months persevering on a rollercoaster journey with all the highs and lows. It opens your eyes to a whole new world and it makes you really start to believe in yourself more.
‘I have really learnt the importance of strength training, and found joining my local crossfit box a fun way to incorporate my strength training. Crossfit for me is also a great way to train the mind mentally.
‘During an ultra, like The Speed Project, there will be times when our minds may feel weak and we may want to quit.
‘Having a strong mind and knowing how to push through the low points is important to me.’
‘I signed up to demonstrate to myself and others that great things can be achieved despite our greatest fears, despite our lowest days, and despite the loneliness and heaviness that mental ill health can bear.
‘The Speed Project has presented the most amazing opportunity to collaborate with other strong females to pull together and achieve something that is quite frankly, huge, and incredible.
‘I have placed a lot of emphasis on strength training in addition to the runs throughout my training for this challenge. I find I run stronger when my body feels stronger as a whole, and that my recovery times are much much faster as a result.
‘It has brought about more mental challenges than physical, and I have learned how to manage my emotions better with regards to the anxiety and fear that an event of this scale can elicit in a person.’
‘I’m terrified of getting injured and not being able to run, purely because I’ve seen so many friends go out fast and hard and end up side-lined.
‘I’ve mixed up runs with spin classes and strength training to gain practice running on tired legs. Other days are double run days, and last weekend we hit up a triple run day with three sets of 10 km spread across the day.
‘For the sake of my team, I can’t go in unprepared. Knowing this, I have trained harder and more consistently than I ever have in the past.
‘My advice for someone considering doing this? Don’t be scared, but don’t be naïve – know what you’re getting yourself into.
‘If you’re cool with that, you can then just tell the doubters to shut up – even if that’s the little voice inside your own head.’
Rosh Radia, team captain
‘I am so tired of running for times and medals. I want to run for fun, because it is an adventure like no other.
‘I am running this for the pride, for the envious questions from other runners, and because this is something exclusive and ridiculously exciting. I hope to take the self-pride and self-belief into all aspects of my life.
‘When I was putting the team together, I was worried about how we would all get along.
After all, The Speed Project is all about running through exhaustion and inadequate nutrition. Moods and tempers will be running high as the hours pass.
‘But here’s the thing, we do not need to get along. We do not need to like each other. What we need to do is be flexible with each other’s needs, be understanding, and be open to accepting all our quirks.
‘We need to be able to support and cheer each other on and help pull each other up when it all gets a little too much. None of that means we have to be friends.
‘Though I suspect that after we have completed all 340 of those miles we will be more like family than friends.’
‘I have always been fascinated by endurance and the idea of going out and simply seeing what you can do holds a lot of appeal for me.
‘As someone who studies endurance runners – I’m a PhD student in management at Birkbeck, University of London – I am curious to understand more about how women in particular experience their sport.
‘During the event I’ll not only be pushing myself out on the road, I’ll also be carrying out field work that will hopefully help us understand more about women’s experiences in sport and help us work out ways to overcome barriers to participation.
‘When you’re training for something like this it can be so tempting to think you need to be on the go all the time, and then to beat yourself up on the days when you feel knackered.
‘I have anxiety disorder and the medication I take does make me a bit drowsy. I have really had to learn when I can push myself, and when I need to slow down a bit and rest.
‘I’m really lucky that I have coaches who have been able to support me with this and build my plan so that it is really flexible.’
‘I love taking on challenges that seem insane. Plus I figured it was the perfect way to come back from meniscus repair surgery and turning 40.
‘I have ran one ultramarathon before – which was 50 miles – so my coach and I know what I need to be successful.
‘I’m a Type 1 diabetic, so it’s a challenge to balance my blood sugars and run extremely long distances.
‘I ditch the normal long runs and opt for multiple 10 kms a day instead. Getting used to running while exhausted is the key to being prepared during the race.
‘Never be afraid to dream big, it may sound cheesy but it’s true. I can’t tell you show many times I’ve been told I can’t do something. Dream big and don’t stop till you make it happen. Anything really is possible.’
The Artemis Arrows aim to complete the event on the 1st April – where they will be greeted with a classic Las Vegas pool party.
We wish them the very best of luck.