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Samantha Gash – Interview

Samantha Gash – Interview

Samantha thank you for giving me the time to interview you. I am sure you are quite a busy lady!

Just a tad busy at the moment, but more than happy to chat to you!

Tell me about running before 4Deserts and what changed after?

Well, I have been ‘running’ since 2008 when I completed my first marathon, but when I decided to do the 4Deserts I had no idea how to prepare for an ultramarathon. Because I was so inexperienced, I really used each race as an opportunitiy to learn as much as I could from all of the other competitors. It was such a bizarre feeling to be considered an experienced multistage racer by the third event (Sahara Race) aother competitors would be asking for advice on how to pack the backpacks. I still felt like such a novice.
I liked running before the 4Deserts but I believe I was more intrigued by the adventure component and the opportunity to explore places that had such a hostile backdrop.
What has changed since completing those four races, is that I know I can push my body and mind pretty far if I am committed and motivated.

What advice would you give someone that wants to run these big Multi-Stage races? I mean most people think we are crazy!

Oh boy, I would say if it is your first multi-stage race these are my tips:

  • Test out a range of nutritional options for the ‘running’ and the ‘recovery’ during the stages. It is important to get used to consuming calories (either in a liquid or solid form) whilst you are moving. [I personally use Infinit nutrition whilst racing (which is a customized fluid solution) and turbo super-foods during recovery.
  • Also test out your gear, everyone is different in their needs so don’t get phased if other people suggest something that doesn’t work for you. [I personally use injinji socks as I never get blisters with them, Brooks Cascadia trail shoes and CW-X compression tights/shorts.
  • Train with your pack, but slowly build up the weight!
  • Build up your training to do some back to back training days.
  • During your first race I always suggest holding back on the first two days. You are going to have so much adrenalin to go out hard, but I have seen far too many people ‘blow up’ because they forget they are racing for 6 days.
  • Incorporate and strength and mobility program into your training to build strength and a resilient body and reduce the chance of injuries and weaknesses.
  • Think strategically: eat before you need to eat (in small quantities), drink before you need to drink and as a beginner to multi stage racing walk before you need to walk.
  • Drop your ego at the start line and prepare yourself for the fact that all of your plans may go out the window.
  • Embrace the idea that you can do better in the race if you allow yourself to talk to other people and work as a team to get through the stages.
  • Stay positive and remember that you chose to take on this adventure!
  • Have comfort in the fact that my favorite ultra runner hails from your country (Ryan Sandes): running multistage running is in your DNA.

In your opinion what does it take physically and mentally to be a successful ultra-runner? Not professionally but just making it out alive to run another race.

You have to really want to do these types of races. There is going to be a lot of opportunities where your body is hurting and it seems completely reasonable to your mind that you should simply pull out to stop the pain. However, if your WHY for doing the event is strong and you don’t entertain the idea of pulling out – you can push further than you thought imaginable.

Tell me about your freedom runners project and what inspired this journey ?

This September, I am running 2350km across South Africa’s Freedom Trail with UK ultra runner Mimi Anderson. We plan on tackling the trail by running on average two marathons a day and expect to complete the distance in 32 – 33 days. Although I am super excited to be running in South Africa, I can’t imagine I would want to run so far if it was purely for myself. Essentially Mimi and I are using the run as a mechanism to raise awareness to the fact that roughly 1 in 3 South African girls don’t attend school during menstruation. I have been very fortunate with educational opportunities and I truly believe that education is a means out of disadvantage and a way to reduce poverty.
Our goal is to raise $50K, which will be used to establish a social enterprise business in the Free State. We have partnered with global NGO Save the Children, who will gainfully employ a dozen South African women to manufacture reusable sanitary pads and distribute them at low cost.
This has been the hardest project I have ever been a part of, and I think Mimi feels the same way. The training is challenging but what has been harder is pulling together the logistics and social enterprise. We hope to have raised $25K before we start the run and then raise the final $25K during the run itself and in the month afterwards.

What will be next for you after freedom runners and will you come visit us in South-Africa in the future?

I have a few loose dreams for after Freedom Runners but I have not let my mind entertain those thoughts. I have needed every ounce of my mind, body and soul to pull this project together. I cannot wait to get to South Africa. That is going to be a dream come true to be able to run for over a month in your beautiful country. I have some amazing friends in South Africa and I cannot wait to reconnect with them before, during and after the run.

Samantha thank you and good luck with freedom runner’s project! Any Shout-outs?

I would love for everyone to check out our pozible campaign which is a way that we plan to raise another $12K for the social enterprise – http://www.pozible.com/project/183111
It includes a campaign video, but you can also see it here – http://vimeo.com/98837316
Also if people would like to donate directly they can do so – https://donate.savethechildren.org.au/FreedomRunners
Our website is www.freedomrunners.org

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Pieter Steyn

Founder at Ultrarunner_ZA
Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.
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Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.

2 Comments

  1. Phew. A really tough challenge lies ahead for you, Mimi and Samantha. Blows me away just thinking of it. But I know you’re going to do it, no matter how tough. What you’re doing is for others – not yourselves. Amazing. Will help where possible!

    Reply
  2. I think when you stick to your WHY and you are helping others in need…thats when you will truly discover what you are capable of.

    Reply

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