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Running with Passion

  • Ultra Marathon

“Why do I run?” The simple answer to this is “because I can..!”

“Why have I chosen to Run with Purpose?” Well, that’s a whole different answer.

I run because I needed to find something to do other than the cycling I was so used to. I needed to stay healthy and take care of myself, especially given the industry I am in. I needed to do something that challenged me and got me out there. I quite simply needed to use what God had given me, a healthy, able body.

So, in a nutshell:  I run because I can; because I was made to!

The Running with Purpose thing (and this is mainly what this post is about), is what happens when you look around and see others running, or even walking alongside you and you realise you’re not alone.

I’ve only been running for a short time. In fact, it was just two years in October 2013.

I was challenged by a client and good friend to do a 10km, which progressed to a 21km and then another.

I’ve always said that I didn’t like running, but I found myself doing just that...enjoying it. I never thought it would go anywhere, but then on Sunday, 3 June 2012, I was watching the Comrades Marathon (no need to explain what that is I am sure) and I said to myself “I’m going to do that...”

Now I said it quietly to myself at first on the off chance someone would hear me and held me to it, but after chatting to the same client who challenged me to the 10km, we made it official:  It was ON, June 2013, I was running!

There were races to enter and qualifying times to be reached, and each race I did drew me closer. I met complete strangers who ran alongside me, encouraged me, passed me and pushed me. People who didn’t know me from a bar of soap, but shared the one thing we now had in common - running.

I often finish a race emotionally and physically drained, and after my first marathon - the Johnson’s Crane 42.2km - I actually broke down in tears when I crossed the finish line. I had done it… I had finished and I had qualified.

Along the way, I entered the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, held in Cape Town.

It is hailed as “the World’s Most Beautiful Race” and the chance to run this on my journey was not something I wanted to pass up! I’d cycled over Chapman’s Peak before, but running it surely had to be even more amazing?

Given that I had qualified already with my marathon time, I entered and got myself ready for what was now going to be the longest distance that I had ever tackled.

The jog to the start in the dark with all the 21.1km and 56km runners had such a vibe. One, which really needs to be experienced in person rather than be read about. People were all over the road, stretching, sitting, waiting, doing warm-up runs and just getting ready in their own way.

As the start time loomed, people started bundling together and you could feel the excitement - it was ALL about to happen.

The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon was the first race I had done where they played the national anthem, and just standing listening to thousands of people belt out something close to their hearts was absolutely amazing.

When the gun went “Standing in the Hall of Fame” by the Script began to play, and having mentioned on Twitter that this would be an awesome way to start the race, I had my moment and sang my heart out going over the start line.

The rumours had been true! The Two Oceans Marathon was indeed the World’s Most Beautiful Marathon. I was almost unaware that I was running, because the scenery was so amazing. Rolling waves, sand and beaches, green hills and then amazing Chapman’s Peak over into Hout Bay...who could ask for more?

I even walked a little up some hills, not because I was tired, but more to absorb the sheer beauty of it all. I won’t lie - the end was tough and I had to work hard to finish in the time I’d aimed for, but I’d run a full marathon before I really knew what had happened.

Constantia Neck was gruelling and probably the toughest hill I had ever taken on - it just went on and on, getting steeper and steeper. It really humbled me and made me realise that I wasn’t invincible, that I could be broken. But as I ran down the other side, through Kirstenbosch and on to the finish, I overcame that “brokenness” and proved again to myself that I could really do great things if I tried.

I had wanted to try and had succeeded! Crossing the finish line of the Two Oceans Marathon was the second time I had cried after a race.  Some may think I was going soft, but I ask you “if you aren’t touched inside by running a race like this, are you really running?”

During my journey to running the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, I realised that if I was going to take on something big, I had to share it with as many people as possible and try, in my own small way, to make a difference.

56kms is a long way and if you’re on your own, it’s even further. I wanted to try and encourage others to do what I was about to do. I got involved in social media and opened a Twitter account, to try and touch base with other runners and share my experiences with them and perhaps encourage them a little.

I didn’t want it to be a case of “I’m sitting having coffee at...” or “this is what I’m wearing today...” but more a platform to share and learn and simply be encouraged by others and perhaps encourage someone else along the way. I also decided to run for a charity - why not? No one’s going to know who I am, but everyone knows the recognised charities and they can make a difference and I can be a part of that!

I ran for the Pink Drive - a charity that brings awareness for breast cancer and supports those with the disease. I ran in pink, with blue hair (the blue was to stand out and because I had more clothes for work that went with blue than pink) and my club colours. I had comments the whole way round and it gave me a sense of purpose that said “I may look like a freak, but I’m doing this for something and something that counts!”

It was one of the best experiences of my life and if I can, I will be back as often as possible to run the World’s Most Beautiful Marathon!

I continued on my journey towards the Comrades Marathon and as I went, I gained a few followers and found some really good friends. Not people I had actually met, but people who were interested in me and my journey. People who were aiming at the same thing and wanted to be encouraged and just needed to be told “hang on in there, we can do this!”

I continued to run for the Pink Drive and was so blessed by their input into my running, always asking me how I had done and making sure I was still wearing my pink. Sadly, the blue hair had to go after a while.

I also took an interest in the Unogwaja Challenge and although I wasn’t taking part, followed their progress and marvelled at the HUGE task they had undertaken. What a way to raise money for charity! I followed Thamar Houliston and John McInroy and was amazed at their humbleness doing something so big, along with the other members of their team. I wanted to be more like them.

I finished the Comrades - just. I ran each step knowing that although the desire to quit in such tough conditions was there, I wasn’t doing this for me, I was doing this for others. For those who had challenged me to do it, for those who had supported me, for those who were alongside the road in pink yelling my name, for those who said I couldn’t, for those who couldn’t themselves but wanted to, for those who had given of their time and money to get me there and for those who would be benefitting from my small contribution to their cause. A lot of people to disappoint if I had quit!

My purpose was to run, with and for others. Yes I physically did the running, but it wasn’t just for me - I had a purpose. I do, every time I get out on the road now.

And what was more meaningful to me at the end as I crossed the finish line, was not that I had finished, but that I had been part of something bigger than me.

I don’t know if I made any difference to anyone while I ran. I don’t know if my Tweets were noticed or enjoyed by anyone or encouraged anyone. I don’t know if anyone was inspired by my journey and my purpose. I don’t know if my efforts in the future will be noticed or if anyone actually cares!

But I do know this: I have a purpose. I run with purpose!

 

...”Why do you run?”  

@theAngryKenyan

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