Kerri Kanuga met her goal of completing a 100-mile run in under 24 hours at the Keys100 Ultramarathon in Key West, Florida, last weekend.
Kanuga is using her runs to help raise money for the child cancer charity, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Since 2014 she has raised more than $33,000.
She next faces the Badwater 135-mile run in Death Valley, California, in July, billed as the world’s toughest race.
The Keys run served as good preparation, with temperatures hovering near 100 degrees. Kanuga said only 81 of the 151 runners finished the ultramarathon.
Kanuga’s initial crew included a driver and a pacer, but at the last minute, she said, “the driver became sick, so I only had one crew member and no pacer, which [made] the race much more difficult.” Crews typically are two or more people. Her pacer took over as driver.
“There [was] a six-mile stretch on the race called Hells Tunnel and it lived up to its name,” she said. “It is through a mangrove forest that blocks any breeze.
“The runners in the front of the pack usually hit this during the hottest point of the day [and] to top that off, I almost stepped on a huge snake at the end of the tunnel. I did not see it until I was right on top of it.”
At the 60-mile mark, the 46-year-old’s new running shoes melted.
But that did not prevent her from finishing in 23 hours, 51 minutes and 37 seconds.
Kanuga dedicated her runs to Hannah Meeson, an 8-year-old cancer survivor in Cayman, in whose name she raises funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. She hopes her efforts will help fund research into the prevention of the lifelong damage that results from the surgeries, radiation and chemotherapies given to child cancer sufferers while their bodies and brains are still developing.
Following her Keys100 run, she jumped straight back into training in Cayman, and is already planning to run 10 miles on Saturday.
“Death Valley, here I come,” said Kanuga.