Wanda does well in canyon race
A PERSONAL trainer from Praa Sands has completed a gruelling 170-mile race through the Grand Canyon in temperatures so cold her water bottle froze.
Wanda Summers, 38, raised money for ShelterBox by running the self-sufficient Grand to Grand Ultra over seven days.
Conditions on the route, which involves climbing thousands of feet, saw night temperatures drop to minus 8C.
The rules require participants to only eat, drink and wear what they can carry, leaving Wanda shivering through the nights wrapped in her emergency blanket.
She said: "It starts at an elevation of 5,344ft and finishes at 8,656ft, with a net gain of 3,303ft. The total ascent of the six stages is 18,359ft. The terrain was around 80 per cent sand. There were also slot canyons to negotiate and tricky climbs. The sand dunes were so steep at times, you had to climb up on all fours, not easy with an 8kg rucksack on your back.
"The final day was the coldest, and I couldn't even drink from my water bottle as the valve had frozen up.
"Around 15 competitors out of 113 failed to finish. Many dropped out due to stress fractures or were unable to hold calories down, which gets very dangerous."
She surprised herself by coming in 30th: "I finished strong, with no injuries, although I was a bit hungry; I did the whole event on a diet of Pot Noodles and Haribo."
Wanda broke her back in 2008 and was told she might never walk again but has since completed four similar events around the world carrying all her food and clothing.
This was the hardest yet, she said, partly because she had been unable to train properly.
"My best friend had a paragliding accident in France a couple of months before," she said.
"I flew out to take care of him and bring him home because he'd broken his pelvis and punctured his lung.
"When we returned to England, I covered his work for him as well as doing my own full-time job, so finding any time to train was impossible."
Wanda now plans to run the Ocean Floor Race next March – a 160-mile unmarked non-stop race in Egypt's White Desert in which competitors have only GPS co-ordinates for the finish line and four days to get there.