A 28-year-old Charlestown man who took up jogging only two years ago has completed a week-long, 150-mile race in the Sahara Desert, finishing in fifth place.
George Chmiel was among 96 people from 30 countries who finished the Sahara Race. He finished with a time of 32 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds, about four hours behind the winnner. He placed best of the 21 Americans running the race, and won in his age group of people aged 21 to 29.
The timed portion of the race concluded Friday. Today, racers took a two-kilometer sprint through the Pyramids of Giza as the un-timed finale to the competition.
“This race is beyond insane. It has been exponentially harder than I ever imagined it could be in my worst nightmares,” Chmiel said in a blog entry after he completed the fifth and final timed segment of the race, a trek of 58 miles.
Chmiel consistently placed in the top 10 during the course of the competition, despite his tendency to get lost on the courses, said Mary Gadams, the race founder. He finished the final stretch of the race in 11 hours and 22 minutes, which – according to his blog – was four hours and 38 minutes better than his goal.
“He seems to be a very driven guy. He was, I think, fortunate that he didn’t get sick like some of the others,” Gadams said, referring to the 32 contestants who were forced to drop out because of injury or illness.
This was Chmiel’s first time participating in a 4Deserts competition, which the Sahara Race was a part of. He raised more than $50,000 for the MAGIC Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to children with medical conditions or disorders affecting their growth, including panhypopituitarism. It is a condition that Luci, the daughter of his friends Mike and Julie Horvath, suffers from.
“Get ready Luci,” the last line in his final blog entry read, “Uncle George has a pretty cool present [his trophy] coming home for you!”
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