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Birthdays, Running, and Clean Water for Africa

Blog

Birthdays, Running, and Clean Water for Africa

Sarah Stanley

desert-2.jpg

This is the week! The week of my birthday. The week where I’ll ask people to celebrate my birthday with me by helping communities in Africa have access to clean water with Blood: Water. (You don't even have to run 100 miles!) The week where I'm going back to where it all began. The week where I’m counting down the days and hours to the start line of my 4th 100 mile ultramarathon.

For those of you new to me, here’s a little background. 5 years ago I ran my first 100 miler to celebrate a milestone birthday (can you guess what it was?) and I finished that race in 24 hours, 58 minutes, 3rd place in my age group and 7th overall in female. It would take me 2.5 years to attempt another 100 miler (the scars from the first were pretty traumatic!) and that race ended in a DNF because I missed the cut off at mile 80 by one minute (after running/moving for 24 hours). After mentally recovering from that loss I once again entertained the thought of running another 100 miler and toed the start line of a race course that was beautiful but oh so very brutal. 20,000 feet of elevation gain at above 9000 feet on rugged, remote trails was one of the most difficult races I’ve ever attempted. No words will do that race course justice. None. Sadly, injury took me out at mile 45 (and 15 hours of running) and once again the letters ‘DNF’ became seared in my memory. Even harder to accept was the feeling that I let the cause I run for (Blood: Water) down. But thankfully that feeling wasn’t true. Many people in Africa got access to clean water because of this run and that’s what mattered at the end of the day (or night because this is an ultramarathon after all).

I enjoy celebrating my birthday in a positive manner. A few highlights from the last few years include road cycling from Washington, D.C to New York City plus a half marathon in 2010 in support of Orange Laces, in 2011 I rode my bike again this time from San Francisco to San Diego in 2011 in support of Kids on Bikes, and in 2013 I ran 34 miles solo in support of Compassion. Doing something athletic in conjunction with causes that truly make a preventative difference is how I prefer to celebrate my birthday. (Although if someone wants to make me an organic, made-from-scratch birthday cake I won’t object :))

 

Finishing Lean Hose 100 Mile Ultramarathon on August 23, 2009 at 6:58 am. (24 hours, 58 minutes)

Finishing Lean Hose 100 Mile Ultramarathon on August 23, 2009 at 6:58 am. (24 hours, 58 minutes)

So the week is here. The miles and miles have been put in. Preparing myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Lots of real, organic, whole foods have been consumed. Visualization has been consistent. Will 21 years of running pay off for me? Will I am able to manage feet blisters that always seem to plague me on 100 milers? Will I be able to keep the negative voices out of my head when the pain is horrific? Regardless of those answers I will give it my all when the gun goes off at 6:00am MST on Saturday, August 23, 2014. As I toe the start line of another 100 mile ultramarathon knowing that I’ll have moments of agony and joy, pain and happiness, doubt and confidence, low lows and high highs, hot weather and cold weather, what will keep me going is the cause in front of me: clean water and clean blood for Africa.

Running 100 miles at one fell swoop is not an easy task and I would appreciate your encouragement and positive support along the way. Leave a birthday greeting in the comments below or on any of my social links.

And lastly, my birthday is this Friday, August 22 and I’d love nothing more but to have you celebrate it with me by giving directly to Blood: Water! They have a few campaigns going on so pick one that speaks to you.

This year Silvercar is sponsoring the ride to/from South Dakota so be sure to follow our social platforms for the latest updates, photos, and other interesting tidbits along the adventure!

p.s. super grateful to Erich for crewing me- again!- at yet another ultra. I couldn't do it without your support.

xo

Cover photo taken by me on one of my training runs.