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Local runner in Dolomiti Extreme Ultramarathon fundraises for Diabetes Gibraltar

Joanna Niezborala from Carpe Diem Running Club recently completed the Dolomiti Extreme Ultramarathon to raise money for children with Type 1 diabetes in Gibraltar.

The race of 55km, which ended up being over 57km for her, and an elevation of 3,771m was completed in just under 11 hours at 10.49.26, making her the 20th female across the finish line.

The route took place in snow, grass and rugged pathways.

Ms Niezborala became a serious runner in the past few years and took a podium position at a trial race in Manilva earlier this year.

Initially she started to run to maintain her fitness and improve her cycling.

She is known in the local cycling community for her skills as both a climber and a puncheur (someone who conquers short, steep climbs) as she breezes past other cyclists on ascents.

Now, she can’t imagine a week without running sessions.

Originally she was a road runner and in 2023 she changed to the trails where she felt a more natural connection and enjoyed the challenges of obstacles along the way.

Before taking on the challenge the longest she had run was around 25km.

“I have never run a marathon before,” she told the Chronicle.

“During preparation for this race I did 41km with 2300m elevation.”

“My goal was to do a full marathon this year and wanted it to be something special. That’s why I chose the race in Dolomites. It's my happy place. I have been there a few times.”

She took on the challenge with fellow runner Nicky Balbuena and together they have raised £1,370 so far.

Type 1 Diabetes is a cause that is close to both of them as they have “friends and family members who suffer from diabetes”.

“By running the ultramarathon in Dolomites we hope to raise awareness and funds for this vital cause,” they said.

She selected doing an ultramarathons because she was captivated by testing her physical and mental endurance, pushing her boundary making her stronger and more resilient.

She believes that children with Type 1 Diabetes also experience challenges that requires their determination and courage.

Training for such an event is not easy.

“I had a three months training plan which consisted of cycling and running,” she said.

“I was injured so had to amend it slightly and was not able to train as anticipated but still grateful for what I could do.”

On the day no matter what she faced she did not feel like she would or wanted to quit.

“This might sound unbelievable as the course wasn’t easy, but I loved every second of the race,” she said.

“Each corner had something new to offer. I would say training for it was more challenging than the actual race.”

The highlight of the 57km was not the finish line but the “spectacular views and Italian hospitality”.

Now she is back home her next move is to start with an “apology” to her bike.

“I have been definitely running more than cycling,” she said.

She aims to stay consistent with her training and “definitely will be looking at longer distances”.

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