Kirsty is joining our team for 2018 as our first ambassador from New Zealand!! At 47 years young this inspiring woman is doing some incredible thing!! Have a read of her story!
Hello RLAG community! I’m Kirsty from Whangarei Heads, New Zealand. I’m a runner who goes short, medium, long, and ridiculously long distances on road and trail. I would absolutely love to have the opportunity to participate in the CCC and I’m very excited to have been selected as a RLAG ambassador. My primary goal for the coming year is to be more adventurous!
I live with my partner, a teen, a tween, 12 sheep, 4 ponies, 2 cats, a dog and a goat. My partner and I operate a small business that we run from home. As a family we like to spend time in the outdoors enjoying nature and exploring our country and others. As a kid, sailing and swimming were my sports. Running did not feature and I did my best to avoid most athletic activities at high school.
Having said that, at 47years young, I joined an athletics club for the first time ever this year and have found great camaraderie. Although I did run a few half marathons in my late 20s, I feel like I really started running at 42yo. That year, my brother was getting married in Bali and I decided that I needed to make some changes. At the time, we were home schooling our children so I had little time-out during the day. I started with one of those 12-week transformation programmes involving resistance and cardio training as well as making changes to the way I eat. And I have to say the results I achieved were well above my expectations!
On returning from Bali, I needed another goal. Running was something I could do from wherever I dropped the kids off for their sport and activities. It didn’t involve any special equipment and, therefore, must be relatively inexpensive, I reasoned. I entered a half marathon and another. And then I decided to go just a little further … I entered the Tarawera ultramarathon 62km distance. I was SO scared and SO excited! And SO scared as the date drew near. It turned out to be the most amazing experience, introducing me to a wonderful and inspiring community of athletes from all walks of life. The next year, I entered the 102km distance.
Since then, I’ve run distances up to 115km on road and trail. I run, and volunteer, at my local Parkrun
(Parkrun Whangarei) and my longest distance (115km) was a charity event which I organised with my
daughter to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ and Youthline in 2017. We called our event “The Longest Night” and it happened in mid-winter. I ran through the night from June 23 rd to 24 th , with the 15hours of darkness an analogy to enduring and recovering from depression, illness and times of hardship with the support of good people. My run through the night was made possible with the support of my partner and kids and around 45 friends (some of whom I’d not met until that night) who took turns either running, walking or riding their bikes while I got through the darkness, being cold and wet in the rain, being unwell, and exhaustion. The process of running ultra-long distance seems to have many analogies to the ups and downs of life and, for me, The Longest Night was a very powerful experience.
I love the way endurance events show us that “if it’s not impossible, it must be possible” (as said by Mal Law, ultrarunner and ultra-awesome champion of the MHF of NZ) and that we are capable of so much more than we often give ourselves credit. I find my biggest challenge is making the decision to start and the next thing is getting to the start-line healthy and injury-free. I’m not fast, I don’t get on many podiums, sometimes I can’t fit in every training run because it’s “just a run” and there are numerous other priorities, and both the training and the events frequently hurt, but physically and mentally, running has made me a stronger person. As well as fitness and strength, running has given me the mental strength to deal with “stuff”.
Training gives me head space to think things over and work things out. Taking part in ultra-distance events has given me the confidence to know that even though it will be difficult and it will hurt, if I just keep battling on I will get there.
My first big event for 2018 will be an 85km trail run on the west coast of the South Island in February. Eleven weeks out and I’m equally excited and terrified of the prospect but that is part and parcel of the adventure. Who knows what other opportunities will arise in the coming year.
As an RLAG ambassador, I hope that I can help inspire a few people to be more active, more adventurous, spend more time in the outdoors, or stretch their perceived boundaries, regardless of age and gender. When someone achieves something they previously thought impossible, amazing things can happen. So, be brave, be confident, be free, be passionate and compassionate, aim to make the impossible possible and run like a girl!