A Run in the Sun
Sound grueling? The race in question, the Marathon des Sables, or Marathon of the Sands, is an annual event. It attracts elite runners from many countries and is considered the most difficult foot race in the world. One of the 495 participants in this year's race was David Rose, a critical care nurse in surgical trauma intensive care at UMDNJ-University Hospital.
Rose, who lives in Allamuchy, NJ, traveled to Morocco in April to compete. His reasons for running: to meet a personal challenge and also raise money for leukemia research. Rose dedicated his race to nine-year-old Christie-Lynn Fraley, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1990.
"Running this race was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I definitely want to do it again!" said Rose, who is 41 years old. "The desert was so beautiful, especially at night." He and the other runners lived on a diet of Gu (a carbohydrate gel that is easily digested) and nine liters of water a day, which they drank at water stations along the way. While some runners ran in groups, Rose preferred to run alone, but he camped out with fellow runners each night. "Even though tents were set up for us, we slept right under the stars," he said.
The hardest part of the race? "My feet took such a beating!" he recalls. "My toes were black and blue and I had blisters everywhere. I taped them up, but the sand was so hot that the tape melted right into my skin."
Rose, who routinely runs 15 to 30 miles a day, wasn't always in such great shape. "I had terrible health habits as a child, and wasn't athletic at all." he recalls. "I started smoking in elementary school. By the time I was an adult, I smoked three or four packs of cigarettes a day, and I was also very overweight. I couldn't go anywhere without wheezing."
Ten years ago, he decided to shape up. He started exercising on a small scale, by running from one telephone pole to another. "And they weren't very far apart," he adds. "As soon as I could run between them and not lose my breath, I'd run to the next pole, then the next. Before too long, I was running a few miles a day."
Rose tries to restrict his training to midnight runs, so it doesn't interfere with his family life. His wife, Mary Beth (also a nurse), and seven-year-old son David are accustomed to this unusual schedule. "I couldn't do this without my family and the many others who supported me," he said. "My hospital family was especially supportive." Rose raised approximately $2,000, which was donated to the Leukemia Foundation. Next year, he hopes to run in another race - the Iditasport Extreme in Alaska - supporting Operation Smile, an organization that sponsors corrective facial surgery for children in the US and abroad.
Anyone interested in making a donation can contact Rose at 973-972-5754.
Fall 1998 Table of Contents