Norwegian Gabriella Mathisen competed in horrible conditions in Chile this year.
An endurance runner of really long distances Gabriella Mathisen, 34, has not followed the same career path as his fellow competitors. Through his difficult life path, the Norwegian has learned to withstand extreme stress and harsh weather conditions in 250 kilometer endurance races.
For example, in a competition in the Atacama desert in Chile, Mathisen had to endure sandstorms, open wounds and bacterial infection.
Mathisen grew up in a poor, indifferent, violent and drug-rich family. Already at the age of 12, she was a prostitute and addicted to drugs.
– I met men who were mean and violent. I got in the car and lay with the old man. After that, people forgot the whole thing, Mathisen said for NRK.
– Being a prostitute has been one of my biggest shames, but now I use my story to get rid of taboos and shame. My life was extreme, but I got through it.
One day, one drug syringe was misplaced in his right arm. The whole hand had to be amputated.
Mathisen ran his first marathon in 2016. Last year, in the 250 km trail run in Namibia, the Norwegian was fourth out of ten participants.
In this year’s Atacama race, the woman was put to the test. The event itself covers four marathons, an ultramarathon and one rest day. After two stages of the race, Mathisen’s legs were full of wounds.
– Every time I stepped on the ground, I felt as if something had gone through my leg. It was really painful, Mathisen observed.
During the ultramarathon, the conditions were like a storm, as the wind was blowing up to 100 meters per second. Fortunately, the Norwegian was able to take shelter, but a fellow competitor sleeping in the same tent got a table on his head. Due to the conditions, the runners were eventually evacuated from the desert.
Even before the last part of the race, Mathisen got an infection. The doctors already recommended giving up, but the Norwegian did not give up and made it to the finish line.
– On the longest stretch I threw up and I was completely white in the face. However, the human body tolerates more than is usually thought.
Why do this?
In Atacama, Mathisen ran at an altitude of almost more than three kilometers. The woman considers the brutal-sounding competition to be one of the finest experiences of her life.
Mathisen’s next goal is Antarctica next year. A 13-day trail running race is contested there. There are also plans to participate in an ultramarathon competing in the Amazon rainforest.
What makes a 34-year-old still run hundreds of kilometers in harsh conditions?
– I have known all the hardships of life and grown a new shell for myself. I have become wiser, stronger and learned to tolerate adversity. It’s a nice experience that makes me happy, Mathisen said.