As the saying goes, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. This certainly applies to Emily ROLFE (D0545-GBR), almost 17, who will be the youngest female competitor of this 32nd edition of the MARATHON DES SABLES. But she’s not so much impressed about that: “I really enjoy challenges and trying to overcome my limits.
The MDS will be an exceptional mental and physical challenge that will enable me to learn to be self-sufficient.” Maybe it has to do with the genes: her father, Benjamin ROLFE (D0544-GBR), is an accomplished sportsman who has run several marathons and ultra-trails and completed the MDS in 2011. “After that amazing life-changing experience, my dream was to take part in it with my daughter Emily, to make her see how life can be when it’s all boiled down to yourself and your rucksack, with no social media and technology.” Emily’s desire to fulfil her dad’s dream was triggered by the passing of Ben’s dear friend and personal trainer, whom she wants to honour by completing the race hand in hand with her father.
After receiving the confirmation that they could both run the race, Emily’s father prepared a training plan, which included several trail races plus 42 km every weekend. But as you can imagine, when a father tries to impose something onto his teenage child, things don’t always work out smoothly: “Emily was not very compliant with my training schedule, so we decided to bring in a personal trainer, who made us exercise together once a week. We had very special moments while sweating together and sharing the same workouts.”
School life was also greatly impacted by Emily’s decision: “I must admit that my schoolmates were quite shocked and afraid for my health, but I was able to reassure them and eventually get their support.” As an active teenager passionate about hip-hop dance and swimming, Emily was forced to make trade-offs: “Unfortunately, days only have 24 hours, so I had to give up swimming to combine the training sessions with my long school days, but I was quite successful in managing school and sports.”
Emily’s motivation also stems from her desire to help the world and serve others: “One of my sisters has been diagnosed with diabetes, so my father and I decided to run for Diabetes UK, a charity that provides support for people suffering with diabetes.” They set themselves the ambitious goal of raising £20,000 to enable the association to buy a new high-tech microscope. They have now reached their objective, thanks to their publicity efforts on JustGiving, Facebook and other social media and to the support of their local church, St Paul’s Church Monaco.
After the MDS, Emily plans to continue studying sciences to become a forensic pathologist or police scientist: “I really want to help the world, so that could be a good way to do so.”