Running: For So Many Reasons

Yesterday I ran ten miles in Paris. I circled the arc, passed under the Eiffel tower, and wound my way along the Seine to Notre Dame. I dodged tourists, tripped on cobblestones, and spent a lot of time thinking as the French summer sun shone on each of my steps.

I often run in cities as an alternative to sightseeing. Over the pat 20 years, jogging tourism has become my wandering way of choice. It’s pretty amazing how much ground you can cover in a half marathon in Havana, and how well you’ll know Amsterdam for the rest of your life when you’ve studied its streets in anxious anticipation in training for your first marathon.

I’ve run in dozens of countries. But yesterday I wasn’t thinking about any of them. I wasn’t even thinking about how pretty Paris is on a sunny summer Sunday. I wandered the arrondissements with my mind focused on one unusual and far away place: Sudan.

I called Sudan home back in 2005 when it was one big country with a half dozen or more major conflicts. Living there was both amazing and oppressive. I’ve been a runner as long as I can remember, but Sudan was the single season I can remember where I never ran a single step.

Sudan wasn’t a running country. Sudan wasn’t safe. Anywhere we went, two blocks or two hours across the desert, we traveled in convoys of Land Rovers. Walking was forbidden. Running wasn’t even remotely an option.

Sudan is two countries now, but pretty much little else has changed. When 2 million refugees and displaced people become the status quo for a decade, the national news doesn’t really make the news anymore. And I sadly have to confess that as the years have passed, Sudan has mostly slipped my mind–until three weeks ago.

Hanging out at Halima’s House, West Darfur 2005

Worlds Collided

Nearly 15 years ago, way before I ever went to work in Sudan, I first heard rumors of an amazing relay race in Oregon called Hood to Coast. Teams of crazy people work together to run 199 miles from the top of Oregon’s Mt. Hood all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Since I’m crazy and I like amazing races, I added it to my invisible bucket list. I never imagined that I’d someday call Portland home, and I doubly never imagined that one day I’d get a call from a former colleague asking me to run this race to raise money and awareness for Sudan.

Sometimes you know things are meant to be. I immediately said yes.  I barely stopped to consider that I’d have to train to run at least 20 miles and that I’d have to work pretty hard to raise thousands of dollars.

As you’ve probably experienced in your own life–even when things are meant to be–there is no guarantee that they are going to be easy (or even fun). Most of the great things we accomplish will require the most blood, sweat and tears. When I lived in Sudan I knew I was in the right place, yet it was still the hardest place I’ve ever been posted. Running 20 miles on August 22-23 is going to be hard (and hopefully fun), but because it is for Sudan, I know it will be worth it.

Truth: most things that are worth it are hard. They will cost us something.

The cost to give access to clean water to one person in South Sudan is approximately $50. (In Paris that’s about what it costs to get 3 bottles of Evian in a restaurant).  My goal is to raise enough money to give clean water to 10 people for each of the 20 miles I’ll run.

What access to clean water in Sudan looks like

Would you join me? You can sponsor a mile and give clean water to 10 people ($500). You can sponsor water for one person ($50). And of course, if you’re budget is smaller than your heart, you can always #Give10.

(note: if you want to give an amount that isn’t listed in the donation choices, scroll to the bottom and select other. It shows $50 as a default but will let you designate any amount when you select the option).You can donate online here or message me if you have any questions. It’s all tax deductible and the money will go to World Vision- and organization I know well having worked with them for more than 7 years!

Just as it takes a team to complete a relay, it takes all of us working together to make a difference.

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