Racing across seven continents in one life time
My name is Jacqueline Eastridge and at 53, I feel most fortunate to have never entered the doors of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (“CHOP”) as a patient. However, as a visitor and as a volunteer in the NICU these past two years, I have seen the children who have been on the receiving end of all that CHOP has to offer and it is these very same children who have inspired me to run for long distances in faraway places.
In October of 2006, at the age of 46, I undertook the challenge of running in a seven day, 150 mile self-supportive ultra-marathon across the Sahara Desert as part of the 4 Deserts sporting event (for more information see the website: http://www.4deserts.com/).
When I decided to run across the Sahara, I knew that it would be a challenge of a magnitude beyond anything I had ever undertaken before. I decided to partner with CHOP and use the publicity I would receive from the race as an opportunity to raise money for CHOP. As it turned out, when I grew tired or began to waver, the thought of the children and what the donations could provide for them became instrumental in driving me forward and across the finish line.
I faced many challenges during my first race across the Sahara and these challenges were highlighted locally through my blog on the Philadelphia Inquirer's website and nationally on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Ultimately, I persevered when it would have been easier to quit and I finished what I set out to do. Approximately eight months after I ran my first 4 Deserts race, I ran in another 150 mile race, this time, across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Then in March of 2008, I participated in another 150 mile race across the Atacama Desert in Chile. Each time I partnered with CHOP and I continued to maintain my Philadelphia Inquirer blog throughout each journey. My experiences in these races provided me the opportunity to speak at both the Academy of Notre Dame and the Philadelphia World Affairs Counsil.
On October 5th of 2009, I headed for Morocco to participate in the inaugural Mt. Toubkal Trail Race (for more information see the website http://www.toubkaltrail.com/lang2/). I was the only American running in this 80 mile non-stop race. We started at 4:30 am on the morning of October 8th from a small Berber village at approximately 7,000 feet and run, in my case huff and puff, towards the top of Mt. Toubkal (13,671 ft.) the highest mountain in the Atlas Mountain Chain in Northern Africa and back down to the finish line. Unfortunately I did not make the cut-off time which would have allowed me to ascend Mt. Toubkal. It was a great disappointment when they would not allow me to continue, but disappointments meet us at every turn in life and we need to embrace them as they can serve to strengthen us for the next challenge.
In December 2010, I set foot on the ice and snow covered ground known as the "Final Frontier", Antarctica. This was the last of the four desert races and when I crossed the finish line, I was speechless and emotionally moved to the very fiber of my being. My body hurt physically but my heart was bursting with joy.
On August 4th, I will once again participate in a 150 mile self-supportive, seven day race through a portion of Iceland which is organized by Racing the Planet (for more information see the website: http://www.4deserts.com/).
I am happy to do the “leg work” running across the desert, over mountains and ice for all of those children who are making difficult journeys of their own.
If possible, please take a moment and make a donation to CHOP on my behalf by simply clicking on the donation button above to register your donation.
Your support will enable them to walk out the doors of CHOP and to the starting line of a race of their own choosing.
I, together with the children, doctors, nurses and staff at CHOP, thank you.