Dakar Rally is considered to be one of the most testing motorcycle challenges in the world. It covers a staggering 9,000 kilometres, exhausting players for over two weeks. Completing it is a big task, let alone winning it. But Gianna Velarde, a cancer survivor, is set to take on the challenge and in process set to become the first Peruvian woman to compete in the Dakar Rally 2019.
The 24-year-old has been rebellious since her childhood. She rode a motorcycle for the first time when she was a 15-year-old. For her, riding a motorcycle was an escape, the only way she could feel strong. In an interview with EFE, she said,
“The motorcycle gave me a lot of strength, freedom and independence. Discovering all those things at that stage probably makes you a very powerful woman in a few years. The motorcycle was my escape valve, my means of feeling strong and above all, feeling that I was a winner,”
Veralrde had to undergo 16 rounds of chemotherapy and 32 radiation treatments to beat the disease. She eventually passed with flying colours winning the battle against cancer of the lymph nodes.
Her last rally was Inca challenge last September, a race which she describes when “everything happened to me”. Despite the malfunctions and challenges she kept on going. The experience gave her confidence to do well at Dakar.
She also managed to persuade her parents who were not thrilled with the idea of participating at Dakar.
“The Dakar has really united my family. For me, Dakar is a chance to face my own demons and start a new chapter in my life. I’m sure the Gianna who finishes this Dakar will be a very different person and that excites me about all the experiences I’m bound to go through,”