UOWD professor Dr Catherine Todd has won the world’s toughest foot race, the Badwater Ultramarathon. Image Credit: Courtesy: Anthony D’Silva

Dubai: A teacher from the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) has won the first prize after completing one of the toughest 217km marathons in the world.

Australian Catherine Todd, electrical engineering assistant professor, aged 34, was the woman champion of this year’s ‘Badwater Ultramarathon’ which took place from July 15 to 17 in California, USA.

Todd succeeded in becoming the highest placed woman among other elite athletes from across the globe after completing the 217km course in 29 hours, 55 minutes and 29 seconds.

“It was an amazing challenge where I got to be part of a great community of runners. I wanted to take part in the race in order to raise funds for the ‘Back on your bike’ charity to support my friend, Richard Holland, who was badly injured in a road accident in Dubai.”

The ‘Badwater Ultramarathon’ is known for being one of ‘the world’s toughest footraces’ as it requires runners to run non-stop for 48 hours in a 217-km course from the hottest, driest place in North America to the highest summit of continental United States.

Though the race course is known for its physical challenges, Todd stated that the hardest challenge for her was a psychological one.

“The toughest challenge for me was when I passed the first female runner. Knowing that she was behind me and that she could catch up with me at any time made me run even faster and harder.”

As for physical challenges, Todd stated that they included running in the heat and the last part of the race where she had to run up the mountains.

This is the second time that Todd has taken part in the race where she previously took sixth place in the women’s category.

This year however; she emerged the fastest woman after facing extreme temperatures of up to 55 degrees Celsius, while scaling a cumulative elevation of around 4,000 metres.

Todd was chosen out of the 96 runners selected to take part in the race. Out of the 96 runners only 81 succeeded in completing the course. Runners are selected based on experience in running 200-metre races.

The professor trained for the event with members of her support team in the UAE. Her regime involved road, desert and mountain runs, including back-to-back ascents of Jebel Hafeet, starting from three in the morning.

“I recommend people take part in races and marathons, it is a good way to meet friends and be part of a supportive community,” she added.

For future plans, Todd stated that next she will take part in the Transomania race, a 241km race across Oman’s desert.