NU-Q’S COO prepares for marathon in Antarctica

From walks on Qatar’s corniche to a marathon on the Great Wall of China, Pim Thukral, chief operations officer at Northwestern University in Qatar, is gearing up for her marathon run in Antarctica, the last destination before she accomplishes her goal of running on all the seven continents of the world.

However, “I don’t enjoy running,” she said.

Thukral initially started running in order to lose the weight she gained when she first came to Qatar in 2008. Eventually, the feeling of crossing the finishing line kept her going.

After running many times, she began seeking a larger challenge. Thukral enjoys traveling and has lived in multiple countries, such as Thailand, Hong Kong, the U.S., and Qatar. She decided to merge her love for traveling with her newfound hobby. Thukral signed up with a marathon tour agency in America that took her to the different continents in order to compete. Her first tour took her to the Great Wall of China.

“China was an experience in itself,” said Thukral. The challenge was the most difficult to complete to date since “it was a lot of walking and a lot of climbing because [of] the steps on the Great Wall, it’s steep!” With excited gestures, she illustrated the steepness and said, “You have to use all fours to climb some of those steps!”

It was not just the tiring walk and run on the wall that became memorable, but also the realization that she was walking on one of the seven wonders of the world and that she was doing something she never thought she would.

The success of her first marathon kept her moving across the other continents. Some of the places she went to were Canberra in Australia, Rio Di Janero in South America, Edinburgh in Europe and Cape Town in Africa. “Antarctica is my last [continent],” said Thukral.

Pim Thukral is the Chief Operations Officer at NU-Q.

Thukral will be leaving for Antarctica on March 8 for 16 days. During her trip, she will run a half marathon in six and a half hours.

But the trip is not without its own challenges. For instance, the route of the run is not predetermined. “We don’t really know what the course is going to look like until maybe two hours prior to the race because the weather could change,” she said.

A second challenge she faces is actually getting to Antarctica itself. En-route to Antarctica, participants will pass the Drake Passage, one of the roughest bodies of water in the world located between Cape Horn in South America and the South Shetland Islands. Thukral has an additional concern: her motion sickness. Even though she will be provided with medication, there is no guarantee that it will work on her.

Regardless of these challenges, Thukral is “not nervous about the race itself. It’s just the preparation of it and the travel to it and back,” she said.

After running in Antarctica, Thukral will set herself a new goal: running the six major marathons in the world. She has already completed the race in New York and is all set to run Berlin and Chicago in September and October of 2018 respectively. By 2020, Thukral hopes to have raced in Tokyo, London and Boston, too.


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