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Iliana Hernandez Cardosa (D0605-CUB)

“Finally running free”

Iliana Hernandez Cardosa’s background is like no other. Twice over, this 41-year old Cuban attempted to escape her country - via the sea in 1994, then via the desert zone of Guantanamo two years later. Imprisoned, she finally managed to reach Spain through friends and has managed to build a new life, but she hasn’t forgotten Cuba, its dictatorship and everything she experienced there. Today, if she’s decided to run the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES, it also has a bit to do with making her rather unusual experience more wider known. “I’ve always wanted to come and run the MARATHON DES SABLES because this race reminds me of the way I traversed the desert of Guantanamo. I really like the idea of having to survive the desert heat. I’ve already had a taster, but without water, without food, without anything… and barefoot!” Suffice to say that the race bivouac, its Berber tents and its daily water rations have a luxury feel to them given her past escape attempts. However the physical hardship remains the same for this sports coach and Zumba teacher, who has been preparing for this event for over six months. “I’ve been sporty my whole life and I’ve always run, but this race is a first for me”, she admits before taking the start, confident of her mental strength. Indeed this adventure is something that Iliana Hernandez Cardosa fully intends to follow all the way to the end, spurred on by fighting “for the liberty of Cuba”.