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Juice Plus+<sup style="font-size: .45em; vertical-align: top;">®</sup> provides Samantha Gash fruit and vegetable nutrition for endurance during 4 Deserts Grand Slam run
Desert runner Samantha Gash has been Living Life to the Plus+ from an early age. At age 26, Samantha became the youngest person ever to complete the 4 Deserts Series and the first woman to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam, finishing all four grueling 155-mile endurance races in a single year. Juice Plus+ provided Samantha nutrition for endurance during her desert races when she needed increased endurance most.
“At 99 pounds and under five feet, I was carrying more than a quarter of my body weight in a backpack, while running more than a marathon a day for five days,” says Samantha of her deserts series racing experience in 2010.
Samantha completed her first 100-km (62-mile) ultra-event in 2005 before she had even completed a half marathon, let alone a marathon. Despite being underprepared, this gave her the taste and appreciation for ultra-running. Between 2006 and 2010, she completed another 100-km event, two marathons, more than a dozen half marathons, and countless smaller races. From these experiences, she learned the importance of consistent training and the need to look after her health and nutrition in order to perform well.
In 2010, Samantha decided to take on Racing The Planet's Atacama Crossing (Chile) race, which is the first race in the 4 Deserts series (link to 4Deserts.com) – four 155-mile ultra-marathons in the driest, hottest, windiest, and coldest “deserts” in the world. Competitors are required to carry all of their gear on their backs during these races.
After six months of preparation and just six weeks before the race, Samantha was injured. “Several doctors told me there would be no way I could compete,” she remembers. But when she took her soft cast off two weeks before the race, Samantha had a breakthrough: “I changed my approach and decided I would try to walk the race.”
Amazingly, she built strength and speed as the race progressed to place fifth among female participants and first in her age group, despite her injury. After Chile, Samantha completed a three-month internship with the Gulf Region Advocacy Center in Houston, Texas, a non-profit providing high-quality legal defense to indigents facing the death penalty. As a distraction from the long hours and emotion of her work there, Samantha started to dream about the idea of competing in the 4 Deserts Grand Slam – all four races in one calendar year.
“I knew that if I could make this happen, I would be the first woman ever to complete the Grand Slam and also the youngest person ever to do it,” Samantha says.
So in June of 2010, Samantha competed in the Gobi March in China, where she placed fourth among the women and first again in her age group. It was during this race that she forged a strong bond with fellow Juice Plus+ Desert Runner Lisa Tamati of New Zealand.
“Despite our difference in age and experience, we battled the race together and fostered a friendship that will never be broken,” she smiles. In September 2010, she and Lisa crossed the Sahara Desert (Egypt) together and Samantha was again the fourth female and first in her age group. Her 4 Deserts quest finished in Antarctica in November 2010, where she drew from her experiences in the previous races to place equal first among the women in distance and 10th overall.
Samantha explains, “I take Juice Plus+ because it gives me nutritional support for both my busy lifestyle and my intense training regime. Juice Plus+ helps me to be in the best position I can be to push my body to the extreme. And make no mistake: that’s what these races are about − pushing yourself to extreme limits that are very much out of your comfort zone. I also feel that the motto 'Live Life to the Plus+’ is in perfect sync with my own outlook on life.”
Samantha has found that her public exposure in these endurance races provides the perfect platform to raise both awareness and money for important causes like the Royal Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust. “My 17-year-old cousin has cystic fibrosis,” she says, explaining her connection to the organization.
Samantha also uses her “celebrity status” to raise awareness about issues facing Indigenous Australians – a concern that led her to found a non-profit organization called Connecting With Indigenous Communities (www.cwicvolunteers.org).
“CWIC establishes volunteer programs in which university students in Victoria, who are geographically far removed from Indigenous communities, facilitate youth holiday programs in the Northern Territory,” she explains. “The short-term goal is to establish positive connections with Indigenous Australians, with a longer-term focus on increasing awareness of Indigenous issues among university students.”
Samantha has worked with Juice Plus+-Australia to encourage improved nutrition in Indigenous communities and introduce concepts of healthier living.
What is Samantha up to now? Samantha currently works for the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She contributes to the Australian ultrarunning website Ultra168 as a female perspective writer and editorial board member. She is also a National Crusader for the League of Extraordinary Women and was named as an i2P Inspirational Ambassador for the organization Impossible2Possible. Samantha continues to run in ultramarathons around the world.
Note: Juice Plus+ contributed financially – as well as nutritionally – to Samantha’s historic 4 Deserts run.
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