Runner no stranger to extreme conditions

Cheryl Schneider, of Albury, New South Wales, is excited about the start of the Alps 2 Ocean...
Cheryl Schneider, of Albury, New South Wales, is excited about the start of the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra staged race tomorrow. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
An Australian woman who will line up for the start of the Alps 2 Ocean Ultra staged race tomorrow completed a similar event in some of the harshest conditions on Earth and expects her trek from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru will be a demanding challenge.

Cheryl Schneider, from Albury in New South Wales, arrived in Oamaru on Wednesday and collected her race pack for the event yesterday morning.

It is not the first time the 33-year-old has taken on a staged ultra race.

She completed the Marathon Des Sables in Morocco in 2015, a seven-day, six-stage race that covered about 250km in the Sahara Desert from Jebel Irhs to Kourci Dial Zaid, followed by a charity leg.

She described the fully self-supported race as ``earth-shatteringly'' difficult.

``It was the most gruelling thing I've ever done,'' she said.

It was when she competed in the Grand to Grand Ultra in the United States, which she also completed, that she met Alps 2 Ocean Ultra organiser Mike Sandri.

``He was taking about the trails that were over here,'' she said.

``He was talking about the sights and how beautiful the scenery is ... I thought it sounded perfect for a staged race and he said yes, it might be. It's a beautiful country to come over to to do this.''

Almost two years later, Ms Schneider, the owner of fitness, health and wellbeing company Lonedog, is in Waitaki and looking forward to getting under way.

``I have actually chosen the supported version this time and my only goal is to complete it. I want to enjoy the experience and have a lot of fun along the way.

``He [Sandri] has been pretty tight-lipped at the moment about what we can expect ... but I don't think it's going to be too downhill or flat. I think it's going to be very challenging and provided the weather stays OK, I think we will have fun.''

The 300km-plus Alps 2 Ocean Ultra takes place over seven stages in seven days.

Self-supported runners will have to carry their own food, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and other compulsory items for the entire seven days, while supported runners will have their food and bedding carried for them to the end of each stage.

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