BENEFITING: Free To Run Inc.
Do you remember the feeling of your first race? First bike ride? First soccer game? Sometimes I try to think about what my life would be like without running... and I can't. Running has become so integral to who I am, how I think, the goals I make in life, how I interact with others, and how I deal with failure. It has made me stronger, resilient, and more confident. The thought that I might never have had the chance to experience the challenge and joy of running, the camaraderie of racing, and the feeling of achieving something I thought was impossible is, well, almost unthinkable! That is why I am using my racing this year (Western States Endurance Run, 100 miles, and Tor des Geants, 200 miles non-stop) to support opportunities for women in Afghanistan to be able to experience and benefit from the power of sport and the magic of running. This year, for the third year in a row, Free to Run will be facilitating the participation of women and girls in the 10km and marathon races in the Marathon of Afghanistan event (date not disclosed for security reasons, but I will tell you as soon as everyone has completed it safely!). In 2015, we trained and supported 50 females in the 10km and 1 woman (our ambassador, Zainab!) in the full marathon. In 2016, these numbers grew to 100 females in the 10km and 5 women in the marathon. This year, we want to see these numbers even higher as we garner more support in the community and from parents for female participation in sport. This is no small task. In order to pull this off, we have to work closely with families, authorities and community members to ensure that training and participation can be carried out safely and with their support. To ensure a balance of participants from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, we fly our participants in from different provinces (road travel is too dangerous). And this year, like last year, we will be carrying out a number of other sports and leadership activities in the week around the event to foster social cohesion, peer-to-peer learning, leadership and fun. Please help me support this event. And know that your contribution will directly and positively affect the lives of women in Afghanistan.