ABC7's Michelle Gallardo to run Everest Marathon for good cause

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Starting at 17,600 feet, the Everest Marathon is the world's highest race. A challenge not for the faint of heart, but ABC7 Chicago's very own Michelle Gallardo is packed and ready to go. It will take ten days of hiking just to get to the start line, at Everest Base Camp.

She's taking on this adventure and climbing for a cause.

"It took me two seconds to know I wanted to do the Everest Marathon and it didn't take me much longer than that to know I wanted to do it for charity," said Gallardo.

Every year in Nepal 20,000 girls will be lured or sold into slavery. They end up in the brothels of India or as domestic slaves, which was actually still considered legal until recently in Nepal.

The American Himalayan Foundation works hard to combat the problem. Through its STOP Girl trafficking program, AHF educates over 12,000 girls in more than 500 schools across Nepal each year, keeping them safe. That's what Gallardo is climbing for.

While her heart is in the right place, training for this feat isn't easy.

"I knew I had to do this. I knew that Denise had to do this with me and she signed up immediately of course," said Gallardo.

Denise Sauriol is Gallardo's friend and a well-known Chicago Marathon coach. She's done over 100 marathons and serves as an incredible inspiration.

"Michelle and I have done Reykjavik marathon. A marathon in Queenstown, New Zealand together and a marathon in South Africa together," Sauriol said.

"My big question when I started is how do I even train for this," said Gallardo. "I've been doing a lot of stairs. Whether it's stair mill running at Swallow Cliff or running up and down the stairs in my building, but just a lot of stairs."

Then there is the Altitude Room at Well-Fit, which really has been a lifesaver during Gallardo's traning.

"The Altitude Room was created to train people at different oxygen levels," said Sharone Aharon, Owner of Well-Fit Chicago. "We filter air where we take oxygen out and put nitrogen in."

"To show benefit in the room it comes from a four week to six week period of two times a week," Sharone said.

Gallardo put months of training to the test in the mountains around my hometown of Mexico City.

"Basically I spent a week climbing up and down mountains in Mexico and that was amazing," Gallardo said. "Realizing the work I've been doing here actually translated."

"I'm officially trained ready to go," Gallardo said. "I'm so excited right now all I want to do is get on that plane and get this started."

Michelle will be blogging her journey along the way.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.