Dubai Humanitarian Maria Conceicao has taken on Double Ironman

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A previous winner of the prestigious Emirates Woman of the Year Award (2009) – Former Emirates flight attendant Maria Conceicao – has taken on her biggest physical challenge yet for her self-funded charity by attempting two Ironman events in Cascais, Portugal this month.

Maria in action

The gruelling feat – which she named the ‘Comeback Challenge’ after she faced a range of physical problems including a serious knee injury – saw Maria head to Portugal to attempt a full Ironman, followed by the half Ironman the next day.

Both are official Ironman events; the full Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, followed by 180km cycle, followed by a full marathon 42.2km run – the half Ironman involves the same activities but half the distance for each.

Any funds raised from this immense physical challenge will go to the Maria Cristina Foundation and be passed on to the impoverished people she has been helping in Bangladesh for over 16 years – more than a hundred families and over 600 children in total.

I call this the Comeback Challenge because for me it is really a journey that started from zero, from a place one year ago where I felt that I had nothing and could achieve nothing. A position where it felt that most of my strengths had been taken away from me, so that I had nothing to provide for myself and others who depend on me so much.”

The Maria Cristina Foundation provides education and family support and now has students at universities all over the world, with several who have now graduated or studying for master’s degrees.