This year some of our MSc Applied Sport/Exercise Physiology students (Serdar Hussein, Sarah Pickering, Niforissa Musa, Mari-Anne Elder, Adam Crook and Harrison Collier-Bain) helped support Josie Adams, ambassador to the Para-Monte altitude awareness charity that we work closely with, in her preparations for this year’s Marathon des Sables (MDS). As part of the Environmental Extremes Lab Service, led by PhD student Gregor Eichhorn, the MSc students delivered a 4 day heat acclimation package to prepare Josie for the harsh conditions expected in the MDS in Morocco. The MDS is a 250 km gruelling multi-day race across the Saharan desert which appeals to around 1000 competitors from all over the world each year. In 2017, Josie was 7th in the event and 1st British female, so we know she has it in her!
The methods used for the prescription of heat acclimation are based around much of the recent research that has been carried out in our laboratories at the University of Brighton. A recent study led by one of our former PhD students, Dr Ash Willmott, used a 4-day heat acclimation protocol to enhance thermoregulation in 10 athletes prior to the competition in Morocco. With only 3 days to spare for Josie, it was decided to in order to complete 4 heat acclimation sessions we would adopt a twice-a-day model on one of the days, with session 2 and 3 being in the morning and evening of the middle day. Josie coped well with the challenge and it gave her the opportunity to simulate more what she would experience in the MDS.
If you would like to follow Josie throughout the next few days on her journey through the desert you can visit the MDS homepage. She will be running under the number 377 and is happy to receive messages as a booster between the stages.
Team leader Gregor was impressed with our MSc students, many of whom have undergone training allied to environmental extremes on their course. Some were using this experience to contribute to their placement module hours, but all enjoyed the opportunity of applied work, translating their knowledge into practice and supporting a talented athlete throughout her final preparations preceding an ultra-running event in one of the most hostile environments in the world.
Thank you and well done to all that were able to contribute to Josie’s support and of course, good luck Josie we will be willing you on every step of the way.