It’s hard to imagine what it would take to be the first woman to complete the notorious 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus Ultra Running race series. With five grueling seven day events through 4 deserts and one jungle, each demanding 155 self supported miles on foot - it’s hard to imagine how one would survive at all. But less than 8 miles into the first day of the first race in Sri Lanka, Jax Mariash found herself confronting exactly what it would take - grit, determination and a will to endure so strong that it sometimes went against her better judgment.
On that first day, with 35 race days remaining over the next 10 months, Jax was already facing adversity that went beyond her worst case scenario. Dehydration had set in, she was vomiting non stop, and to top it off she had twisted her knee between two logs in the jungle. “You start to wonder,” Jax reflected, “why no one has ever done this. When you go into adversity and try to figure out how to push through it, you start to see those challenges.
It would have been easy - maybe even smart - to drop out of the race on this very first day, but that’s not the kind of person Jax is. Driven on by her goal to be the first woman to finish all five stages, podium at all 5, and her determination to inspire others, Jax stumbled to her feet and continued on. “When the struggle came, I had to just skip the panic and go into solution mode… it was a mental game to have positive affirmations and strength,” Jax said of her miraculous comeback. Armed with salt tabs, electrolytes and the willpower to finish, Jax went on to place 2nd in the women’s division, and 9th overall, in Sri Lanka to keep her dream alive.
Jax has always displayed this kind of unyielding willpower, but in her 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus attempt, she has found a cause outside of herself that goes beyond that will to win. Jax has partnered with The LymeLight Foundation, a non profit organization aimed at raising awareness and promoting affordable medical treatment for Lyme disease. “There needs to be more awareness. It’s the fastest growing infectious disease in the world and there is a challenge in providing medical treatment through insurance for the disease…so many parents are going broke trying to save their children’s lives,” Jax says of her passion for the organization. This season, she will be running to raise awareness and funds for those struggling with Lyme disease, a goal that for Jax is paramount to winning. “I want to win too, but that’s secondary. The bigger goal has to be your drive to inspire, and create awareness for Lyme. If through that goal, you happen to win - that’s awesome.”
As Jax continues to pursue her goal, DripDrop is proud to have her on board as one of our inspiring Athlete Ambassadors. In preparing for each grueling race, Jax focuses a lot on what hydration routine will not only allow her to perform her best, but to survive the unforgiving conditions of the most grueling deserts terrain. Each race requires a different electrolyte system as Jax’s 4 races left are in the hottest, driest, windiest and coldest deserts in the world. “They won’t even let you start without an electrolyte program. If you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t be able to race and you also just wouldn’t survive,” says Jax. She has worked with Dr. Eduardo Dolhun, the scientist behind DripDrop’s medical grade formula, to plan out what she will drink during each stage. By using DripDrop packets at every checkpoint and supplementing with salt tabs hourly, Jax has been able to maintain a strong hydration routine and push through the hottest miles in the desert.
Jax has now successfully completed the first of the five stages of the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus race series. With Sri Lanka behind her, five weeks of running in the desert stand between her and the goal of becoming the first woman to complete this superhuman feat. Her determination to finish, not only for herself but to inspire others and raise awareness about Lyme disease, got her through the darkest hours in Sri Lanka. And, she hopes, will push her all the way to the finish of the last stage in Antarctica this November.
DripDrop is inspired by people like Jax who push their bodies to the limit and understand the power of hydration. To be involved, even in a small way, with her courageous journey is a source of motivation to everyone on our team. We will be cheering her on, every step of the way!
Jax’s Donation Page in support of the LymeLight Foundation : http://lymelightfoundation.org/auxiliary-event/4-deserts-grand-slam-plus/