Turning 30 is a big deal, right?! I turned 30 in December, and over the last few months, I’ve been thinking over an idea for how I can celebrate this milestone in a memorable, fun, and purposeful way. This is it:
As most of you know, I recently discovered running. Transforming from someone who hated running, to not being able to shut up about it, it really has become a core part of my life. Through running, not only have I become healthier and fitter, I’ve made some incredible friends, rebuilt my self-confidence, found a love for sport and an inner determination that I really didn’t know I possessed. I’ve come a long way since my first race.
I remember so vividly the first time I ran in the forest. It was the furthest I’d ever gone before, and, though my body ached and I had to fight to take each step forward, I couldn’t stop smiling. Moving your body across miles, through mud, up hills, solitary in nature, taking in the woodland smells, noticing the birds, feeling my heart leap as it started snowing. There’s nothing quite like it.
I’ve told you what I love. Now let me tell you what I hate. Social injustice. Sexual violence. Slavery. I’ve been volunteering, supporting, campaigning, donating, and basically trying to make a difference to end sex trafficking for almost a decade now. I guess you could say I hope it to be my life’s work; if I can make just a small difference to ease the suffering of someone enslaved – it’s worth it. If I can contribute knowledge that puts forward best practise policy and leglisation – it’s worth it. If my financial support helps to raise awareness, prosecute traffickers, protect victims – it’s all, so, so, worth it.
Bringing together what I love – running – with what I hate – sex trafficking – what better way to meaningfully celebrate my birthday than to raise funds and awareness to combat sex trafficking?
My chosen charity is an incredible organisation that I’ve supported for many years. A21 fights trafficking and forced prostitution globally, through prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership. Particularly crucial at this point in time has been their response to the refugee crisis at the Greek border, where thousands of Syrians cross daily. A21 has developed an innovative new system to provide filtered drinking water to those who are fleeing the trauma and violence of war, along with meeting other immediate needs, such as food, clothing, and offering trafficking awareness advice and support. Check out their website for more info.
30 races might sound like a lot, but surprisingly, it’s kinda not. I’m part of a great running club and I race most weekends. So, I hear you ask, what’s going to be special about the 30 I choose for my challenge? Good, I’m glad you asked. My criteria for my 30 races to celebrate 30 years will be:
-> Scary – out of my comfort zone, reminding me why I’m doing this.
-> Challenging – I’ll have to really push myself to finish it. Because if A21 can do the impossible, so can I!
-> Iconic – interesting enough for me to bore you all throughout the year with updates and race reports!
Have you got a race in mind for me? Throw me your ideas – perhaps sponsor me to do a specific race?! Bear in mind that I’m covering all race entry and travel related costs, so although I’m up for anything and would love if you have a particular race you’d like me to run, I’ll also need to make sure it works for me, and that I’m able to fit it into my schedule, so I can’t make any promises!
Through this challenge, 30 races for 30 years, I’d love to raise awareness about sex trafficking, as well as fundraise for A21 so they can continue their incredible work. I went away for my 30th, partly to avoid facing a new decade! So this is my way of acknowledging that I’m now “in my 30s”! If you’d like to celebrate my 30th with me, rather than buying me a drink or singing “she’s a jolly good fellow”, please consider making a donation to A21. I don’t massively like asking for money, and I definitely would hate for anyone to feel obliged or awkward about donating/not donating – please only give if you feel like you really want to, and honestly, I won’t be offended if you don’t! But more important than financial support, I hope you’ll follow this journey with me as I take on 30 races that will test me to my limits, that you’ll learn more about sex trafficking and what you can do to help prevent it, and that you’ll be inspired and challenged to use what you love to stand up for what you care about.
CLICK HERE donate to my 30 races for 30 years 🙂 THANK YOU! xx
PS/Disclaimer alert! I’m hoping to complete this journey/challenge before I turn 31 in December, or at least by the end of the year. However, I also have to be realistic about the possibility of injury, or university/work commitments clashing with races and being unable to fit 30 races into my calendar in the remaining weeks. So although I plan to finish this challenge in 2016, please don’t be too disappointed in me if it continues into 2017, okay?! Despite this being on my heart to do since before my birthday, I’ve delayed in launching it because I was trying to plan it carefully, fearful of not being able to finish what I set out to do, and wanting to make sure that I am able to honour my commitment. I’ve planned out 15 of my 30 races, but the truth is I don’t know yet what other races I will be able to fit in and when, so it is a faith step for me. But I didn’t want this to stop me from doing this challenge, and 15 races for 30 years just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!