Meet the First U.S. Team to race the Libyan Challenge:
Howard Cohen
Howard will be leading the first U.S. Team at the Libyan Challenge.  Howard has competed in over 50 Ultramarathons including eight 100 mile runs.  In the summer of 2008 he completed the Hardrock 100 Endurance run in the mountains of Colorado.  Howard enjoys running in the desert whether it is in the United States running an ultra or completing in the Gobi March and Atacama Crossing with Racing the Planet in recent years.  Howard also enjoys biking, hiking and mountaineering.  Covering long distances light and fast is just one of his passions. 

Howard has been an Information Technology professional for the last 25 years working for a Fortune 35 insurance company where he managed enterprise wide applications and managed large systems integration projects resulting from mergers and acquisitions.   When not working , hanging out with his family or playing in the outdoors, you can find Howard participating in local non-profit organizations that maintain local trails and monitor appropriate land use in his local mountains.  

Howard is competing in the Libyan Challenge because he enjoys traveling to remote parts of the world where he can test his endurance, his wilderness survival skills and to see how other cultures survive in these harsh environments.   He also enjoys bringing these stories back to share with others as a way to motivate them to pursue their own adventures.  Howard feels that the trip to Libya provides a unique opportunity to raise money for worthy causes and to help spearhead new political and economic relationships between the two countries.

See Howard's Gear list

See Howard's Nutrition plan


Rebecca Byerly Rebecca Byerly, began running ultra-marathons, while studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt in 2005. Since that time she has run marathons or ultra-marathons in Egypt, South Africa, Jordan, Australia, Lebanon, India, China, and Mongolia. Always seeking the next athletic and cultural adventure she spent last winter snowboarding in Gulmarg, Kashmir and running at 14,000 feet through the Himalayas. Rebecca, uses running and writing as a medium to share the remarkable accounts of people in far-flung regions of the world, whose stories would otherwise go untold.

This summer Rebecca worked for CNN.com covering off the beaten path pre-Olympic feature stories in China, Mongolia, and Cambodia. Before working with CNN she worked in New Delhi, India on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. While in India, she built partnerships between slum schools in New Delhi and private schools. Working directly with rag pickers or climate change refugees in some of Delhi’s poorest slums, she saw the need to increase environmental awareness globally. A graduate of Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University in Washington D.C., Rebecca worked in Kabul, Afghanistan as a consultant, for Reza Deghati, the founder of Aina a media development organization that empowers Afghans by teaching them media skills. She has also worked in educational development and conducted research in Sudan, Palestine, and Turkey.

A North Carolina native, Rebecca is recruiting the first group of Americans to compete in the Libyan Challenge in February 2009. She believes the race will not only be an exceptional athletic adventure that will undoubtedly push each runner to their limits but is also an opportunity to learn more about Libya. Rebecca plans to cover the race for various media organizations and will capture the story through a high definition camera, photography, and print journalism. "This race is not only an opportunity to share Libya with Americans but for us to be American Ambassadors to Libya."

Isabella de la
A mother of five and former wall street lawyer and banker, Isabella de la Houssaye is thrilled to be joining the first U.S. team to race the Libyan Challenge. She started racing four years ago and since has completed five Ironman Triathlons and a significant number of marathons and ultramarathons including third place finishes in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, the Cruce de los Andes in Argentina and Chile and a second place finish in the Machelhose in Hong Kong. Most recently she ran the 200k Cape Odyssey in South Africa. Her physical and mental endurance is a product of years of chasing after her children and managing investment bankers.

Isabella has lived in Europe and Asia and spent the majority of her career developing infrastructure projects in developing countries. She has travelled extensively around the world and is looking forward to being in Libya and contributing to the greatest extent possible in furthering friendly relations between the United States and Libya. Her goal is to survive the race and her hope to further cultural awareness and make new friends.
Bob Lashua Bob Lashua is 45 years old and resides in Massachusetts.  A lifelong runner who has completed eight marathons on three continents.  The most challenging by far was the Great Wall Marathon which he ran in May of 2008.  He has a Master's Degree and has recently retired, after twenty-five years of service, from the Massachusetts Department of Correction.  Other interests beyond running include travel, cooking, reading (usually true stories about the human spirit and the will to survive), photography, and weight training.  Bob is well balanced and always looks to find the humor in whatever situation he may find himself in.

An event such as the Libyan Challenge blends his love of travel with his love of sport and competition perfectly.  To see the world and to participate in a competition that reinforces the fact that there is far more in this world that unites us than divides us is nothing short of life altering.  Each time that he has traveled and competed in an endurance event he has finished knowing that: "I was, on some level, not the same person.  I'm positive that this adventure will be no different."

JB Benna


Producer Jennifer Benna and Director JB Benna

JB Benna
Trail Name: Journeyfilm
San Francisco, CA

"Imagine, take the next step, enjoy the Journey."

Education: USC Cinema/TV Graduate
Profession: Film Director and Producer
Founder and CEO of Journeyfilm

Film Awards: Telly Award
Park City Film Festival - Audience Award
Mountain Film - Vancouver
Tahoe / Reno Film Festival
Theatrical Release: UltraMarathon Man - July 2008 - 200 Screens

Athletic Accomplishments
• Pacific Crest Trial - 2700 Miles - 107 days
• John Muir Trail - 210 Miles- 6 Days
• Backbone Trail - 70 Miles - 1.75 days
• 40 UltraMarathons 50K-100 Miles
• 3 First Place Trail Running Finishes