When I was 8, my Dad noticed I never seemed to get tired on family walks and signed me up for Little Athletics to help me burn off some energy. I loved it, and I’ve been running ever since.
While I was never the fastest, I loved training with friends, being outside and challenging myself, and was known for being the one who turned up to every training session.
I was lucky to have grown up in a supportive and empowering environment where I was encouraged to be active and adventurous. I’m really proud to be a Free to Run ambassador so I can help women in tougher environments experience the freedom and empowerment that running has brought me.
Working on disaster and crisis response in the humanitarian sector, I am regularly reading and hearing about the enduring impacts of conflict settings, particularly on women and girls.
In cultures where women are expected to stay indoors, going out for a hike or a run simply for the experience is almost unthinkable.
In Australia, many women (like myself) lead comfortable lives and run to seek a new challenge. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan, running is an escape from the challenges of day-to-day life.
I spent six months of last year in Papua New Guinea supporting the PNG Government’s COVID-19 response.
While not even close to comparing to Iraq or Afghanistan, I faced more restrictions to my running than ever before.
If I wanted to go for a run on the streets by myself, I had to arrange for a security car filled with four guards to follow behind me as I ran. As you can imagine, this was very problematic when I was running up steep hills, and lots of stalling transpired for the security car… Most of the time I would run laps around a small compound to avoid the awkwardness of trying to run at a reasonable pace. Having access to a security service was a real privilege not afforded to most local women in PNG, so I saw very few local women out running, and certainly not by themselves.
The experience reminded me how lucky I am to have such freedom to run in Australia and running has taken me to some pretty amazing places.
In 2017 (aged 22), I ran 4000kms in 100 days from Cooktown to Melbourne for a multicultural storytelling project called Bounding Plains to Share. For every day my friend and I ran, we shared the story (on social media) of someone we’d met who had arrived in Australia as a refugee, asylum seeker or migrant.
Inspired by the people I’d met along the way, I set up a small pilot program called the Refugee Marathon Project, where newly arrived Australians (mostly from Afghanistan) were paired up with experienced runners to train for a fun run.
Since then, I’ve taken on lots of ultrarunning challenges, including the 240km Coast to Kosci race, and most recently, running for Australia in the IAU Asia-Oceania 24-hour championships, where I ran 214.59kms to finish with a silver individual medal and a team gold.
Running has taken me to some amazing places and helped me meet some incredible people. I’m excited to be supporting Free to Run to continue delivering programs that will empower women in conflict settings to discover adventure and reach their goals in all aspects of life.
I’d be very grateful for your support.