Liz Byron, a Boston Public School teacher at the Gardner Pilot Academy spends her days teaching math to her special needs students. Most recently, they’ve been learning fractions, and while this in itself is a challenge, next year she will be taking on the ultimate challenge for her students: She is going to run 155 miles through the Sahara desert.
This probably sounds like a ridiculous feat and even a reckless endangerment of one’s health, but for Byron, it’s a labor of love. She is running to raise money for her 42 sixth grade students that, at the time being, have only four laptops to share between all of them. This lack of practical resources is her motivation to make the journey across the Sahara desert next spring in what is called the Marathon des Sables.
Essentially, the event is 5 ½ marathons, over 6 days, in blistering heat, with all of your food and water on your back the entire time. Sounds intense, right? In fact, Byron found this race by Googling, “toughest running race on Earth“. Then, she signed up for it.
She hopes to not only succeed at what is probably one of the most difficult physical feats out there, but also to raise at least $50,000 for 30 new laptop computers for her class. She is bothered with the condition of her school’s technology, telling CBS that, “It’s frustrating to know that technology is so embedded in our lives and then you come to school and it’s absent.”
Young Jennifer Gomes tells WBZ-TV, “We only have a few right now and we want to expand our education on the computers.”
Byron has already started extensive training for her ultra-marathon, with her daily runs ranging in distance from 5 miles to 53 miles. She’s got a daunting fund-raising and physical training regiment ahead of her. A chart in her class gives her a daily reminder that she is only a fraction of the way to her fund-raising goal. Out of her targeted $50,000, she has raised $8,000.
Her students believe in her though. Jennifer Gomes says,
I’m sure she’ll make it back with laptops in her arms saying ‘I won the race’
With positivity like that coming from her students, I’m sure Byron is even more motivated to accomplish her goals. She also seems to take some consolation from the fact that the job she does every day is no more a “piece of cake” than this 155 mile run through the Sahara will be. Byron says, “It may seem like a crazy race but what we attempt to do every day as teachers is a bigger challenge than trying to run 155 miles in the Sahara.”gardnerpilotacademy.org, WBZ-TV / Boston.CBSlocal.com Picture: gardnerpilotacademy.org