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This Woman Just Made History Running 775 Miles Through the Desert

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Who run the world? Girls. More specifically, Jax Mariash Koudele, an endurance runner from Wyoming who just made history by becoming the first woman ever to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus, which is basically a series of races that makes up an ultra, ultra, ultra marathon throughout the world’s toughest terrains in Namibia, China, Chile, and Antarctica. Each year, they also add a fifth location—you know, because four deserts aren’t enough. (Koudele went to Sri Lanka.)

At each stop during her travels (which sounds exhausting in its own right), Koudele logged 155 miles over the course of a seven-day race in each desert. She and the other competitors from more than 40 countries ran 22 to 28 miles for each of the first four days, 50 miles on day five, none on day six (bless you, rest days), and finished the last 10K on the seventh day. Each of the locations, which included the windiest, hottest, coldest, and driest deserts on the globe, was chosen because it is notoriously tough. And to make the experience even more grueling, athletes were responsible for carrying everything they needed to survive, except for drinking water and a tent to sleep in each night. (Women are seriously incredible, amirite? Prime examples: This insanely brave woman who tackled Mount Kilimanjaro on a mountain bike and this rock climbing champ who was the first woman to conquer something called a "Murder Wall".) 

And get this: Because Koudele was the first woman EVER to complete the athletic feat—crazy!—when she headed back home to the States earlier this week, she was carrying so much hardware from the races and from being crowned the 2016 4 Deserts Female World Champion that TSA pulled her aside to investigate all of the metal in her bag. (Or should we say medals?)

Koudele says besides the most amazing sense of accomplishment, there were two other major bonuses from the experience. First, she met some incredible athletes. "It is a really amazing journey to meet people from so many different countries and now have a network of friends that feel like family all over the world," she says. Second, Koudele used her competition as an opportunity to build awareness for Lyme disease. In fact, she raised more than $15,000 for LymeLight Foundation, which educates the public about the disease and helps young people receive proper treatment. It's no wonder she's earned the nickname "Wonder Woman Jax."

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