Kanuga faces ultimate challenge to fight childhood cancer

| 13/07/2016
CNS Local Life

Kerri Kanuga training with “Tyrone” the tyre

(CNS): Local real estate agent and ultramarathon runner Kerri Kanuga will undertake her biggest endurance challenge to date this month in aid of the St Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research. On Monday, 18 July, Kanuga will set out to complete Badwater, the most demanding and extreme running race on earth, covering 135 miles nonstop from Death Valley in the US across three mountain ranges to Mount Whitney.

Temperatures in Death Valley, the hottest place on earth, reached a record breaking 126 degrees F last month and hotter temperatures are expected in July.

Kanuga will be one of only 100 runners, and one of only 25 women, participating in the “World’s Toughest Foot Race”. Her crew for Badwater includes ultramarathon legend Lisa Smith-Batchen, nun Sister Mary Beth and crew guru Ernie Rambo. The course must be completed within 48 hours though Kanuga is aiming to finish within 36 hours.

To earn her much-coveted place at Badwater, she had to qualify with three 100-mile race finishes which included Brazil’s “160+Ultra” in January this year where Kanuga represented the Cayman Islands and covered 250 km, equal to six back-to-back marathons with an accumulated elevation of approximately 50,000 feet (Everest is 29,028). She completed the race in 61 hours and 10 minutes.

Kanuga has undertaken an intensive training regime to prepare for next week’s race including Cayman’s Off the Beaten Track 50k ultramarathon and training with “Tyrone”, the nickname she gave to the tyre she is often seen pulling along the roads of Cayman. She also placed 18th overall and seventh in the female category at the Keys100 Ultramarathon in May of this year, which she used as a “training run” for Badwater, completing the 100-mile race inside of 24 hours. The conditions of the race were grueling, with only 80 of 153 registered runners finishing, due to heat exhaustion.

“To be considered for Badwater is an honour and I am astounded by the fact that I am able to compete and improve as a long-distance runner. Happily, I have never felt stronger in my life,” said Kanuga. “I have so much gratitude that my body can run at this level and I am very happy that my sport allows me to give back and raise money and awareness for St Baldrick’s.”

In addition to losing many friends and family members to cancer, including her father in 2013, Kanuga was inspired to raise funds for Hannah’s Heroes and the St Baldrick’s Foundation through endurance running when she met Cayman-born Hannah Meeson, who was diagnosed in 2012 with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, when she was 4 years old.

“Kerri is a true childhood cancer hero and we are in awe of her strength and determination,” said Gaylene Meeson, Hannah’s mother.

“We are thrilled that Kerri has chosen St Baldrick’s and our hero fund, as her inspiration to compete. She will change the lives of all children fighting cancer with each step she takes during Badwater.”

Hannah’s Heroes, a hero fund of St Baldrick’s, was established in 2013 to raise awareness of and vital funds for childhood cancer research and to honour Hannah and other childhood cancer survivors in Cayman, including Skylar “Mimi” Ebanks, Tayden Grant, Beau Shields, Annabel Reading and Charli Foster.

Since 2014, Kanuga has raised more than $33,000 for the Hannah’s Heroes fund. She hopes that her efforts will aid research into preventing the lifelong damage that results from surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies given while young bodies and brains are just developing.

To support Kanuga’s fundraising efforts in Badwater, visit her page on the St Baldrick’s Foundation websiteFor further information, go to Hannah’s Heroes Facebook page 

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Category: Donations, Running

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