The Southern Seasons Miler Challenge. Four 100 mile races, completed in 12 months.
May 2019, I signed up to run a 100 mile race for my birthday, because, you know, that’s what us runners do right?! Little did I know then the massive journey that I would undertake and how much the universe had in store over the wild journey that became my quest to complete the challenge.
Much like Froddo and the ring, I was going to complete the quest and fight until the bitter end to get there – and sometimes it felt like a true battle.
When thinking about the challenge and my why, I kept coming back to how running had helped save me. How, when in my darkest times in a relationship characterized by domestic violence, running was my hope, my escape and something that built my confidence. And so it was, with a great big scary step into the unknown I decided to share my story while completing my quest to grow, learn and run a very long way!
So, not long after completing my first 100 mile race, I signed up to the miler series and the roller coaster and the most epic journey began.
Was I ready to run four 100 mile races? Probably not! I struggled with recovery, with a body that was not accustomed to running so far. I had overuse injuries, I had vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I cried through so many training runs because my body would not do what my mind wanted. I pushed my body to the brink and it broke, over and over again. But, like Frodo holding tight to the ring, in spite of the damage it was doing him, I forged on.
Almost as hard as the races, was sharing stories of my life. I had always brushed over, edited, or kept quiet about where I had come from. So, opening up and sharing my experiences was daunting. So many times I hit the button to upload a post and walked away with my heart racing and a lump in my throat…but then, I received messages, some that made me smile, messages of triumph and some that made me cry, but all of them made me realise that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. Together, over the course of this challenge, we were able to talk about domestic violence, shine the light on it, and make it a little less taboo, and for that I am proud of what we have achieved, and will continue to achieve.
Three milers down and covid hit, like Frodo’s imprisonment, yep, we all felt a little bit like we had been imprisoned in one way or another! We bided and waited for the time we would be free again. Sadly, that time didn’t come to compete the challenge in the 12 months – the final race being cancelled just days out. But, 12 months later, we were able to toe the line and complete the challenge. There was a hug at the prize giving – a second hug from George, where in that moment I realised it was done, my shoulders dropped – a weight lifted, my eyes misted, and I felt a rush of gratitude, that I had finally made it.
So much was achieved through this challenge. Personally – physically, I got slower and a little broken! Mentally, I grew infinitely stronger. I gained more tools to deal with hard times (both in running and life), as I faced many demons along the way. For my cause – we also started some great conversations around domestic violence, and raised money for Shine to help others, and it’s these things that will leave a lasting mark on the world, which is pretty special.
But, this is not the end, like all good blockbusters, there will be a sequel. There has been another plot forming and a whole lot of work going on behind the scenes to bring another epic adventure. There will be dizzying heights that will require ropes and a whole lot more guts than I think I have right now. There will be treks into unforgiving landscapes, and so, so many lessons to be learnt. Am I scared? Probably more than I have been in my life, but if you’ve followed me for long enough you’ll know that’s just the way I like it, living at the edge of my comfort zone. Am I excited? Hell yes! If you’d asked my 25 year old self if she would ever take on such challenges, she would have laughed in your face. But, here I am, just a normal kiwi woman about to take on another big challenge.
We are going to keep talking about domestic violence, that won’t stop and I won’t apologise for using this platform to push my agenda, because it’s an important agenda, and we haven’t talked nearly enough. So we will talk, we will rally, we will laugh in triumph and cry in empathy, and we will make a difference.
If you are ready, then I am ready, the Miler-Series chapter is complete – it’s time for chapter 2, Tanya and the Giants.