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SB's Kim Ingleby running marathons and changing lives in Sierra Leone

posted on Friday, 13th June 2014 | find under 
Sweaty Betty Bristol Ambassador, Head Coach and Founder of Energised Performance, Kim Ingleby is one of the UK's leading Mind Body Experts and an all-round fitness inspiration.

Well and truly taking herself out of her comfort zone, Kim tells all on her incredible trip to Sierra Leone, where she ran her most challenging marathon to date, raising money for well-deserving charity, Street Child.

What inspired you to do this marathon in particular?

I saw the Sierra Leone Marathon on Twitter last year. It looked like an amazing opportunity to do something different, raise money for a great charity and visit a country I wouldn’t normally visit. One of the key values of my company Energised Performance is to raise money for charity, so as the company turns 10 years old this year, I wanted to do something different and inspiring in celebration. Exactly a year ago on the day of the marathon, I contracted a form of Weils disease which has led to a complex neurological medical mix, so I knew this marathon was set to be a challenge nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.

Why the STREET CHILD charity? 

Through Energised Performance, we have raised nearly £40,000 for a wide range of charities.  STREET CHILD is a small charity making a big difference to children on the streets of Sierra Leone. They provide education, support, counselling and a role model/team for the child, and have developed unique, sustainable programmes that integrate the child back into their family when possible. Having seen the projects firsthand, I can see the real difference the charity is making to the lives of so many vulnerable children.

Can you talk us through race day? 

Race day was crazy! We were up at 3.30am for breakfast (oats and protein from the UK), and the buses collected us around 4.15am to take us to the local stadium in Makeni. Think of the images you see on Sports Relief with even more intensity, noise, smells and chaos – that was the start line! It was 27 degrees (even at that time in the morning) and torrential, electric storms had thundered through the night, so the humidity was high too. 

As we started the race, I had no idea what to expect and was fully intending to just do the half-marathon route at a slow pace due to my complex medical condition and the blazing heat. At 6am, we were jog-walking through Makeni as the locals cheered us on. Many are very aware of the work STREET CHILD does, so there is huge support, yet white people (especially with blonde hair and blue eyes) still provoke a lot of interest. As we snaked our way through the red dirt tracks through little villages, jungle paths and fields I felt like so lucky. When else was I going to experience such a remote, beautiful and challenging route? 

As we reached the point of the half-marathon, I thought, ‘if the boys will walk/jog with me, then I’ll push on and do the marathon.’ Never in any of my mental strength plans had I thought it would take any longer than 6 hrs 30 mins, so when at 7 hrs, we still had 1 hr 30 mins to go, I honestly thought I was beaten. But I drew upon inner courage, support and sheer stubbornness and carried on… and at around 8 hrs 30 mins we crossed the finish line, with the medics and a few locals staring in disbelief. I still don’t know how it took so long as we never really stopped - a lesson learned in the impact of heat, humidity and expecting the unexpected! 

To read Kim’s full story, click here.

What were the most memorable moments from your trip?

It was a life-enhancing, thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging trip. The children’s faces, their complete happiness and ability to be in the moment, smile and laugh will stay with me forever. The scenery and the people, their absolute basic level of living and unwavering family values, and their support and kindness for each other. Eating a mango with a local lady 7 hours into the marathon, and the ladies who I showered in a bucket with, who loved my SB harem pants and vest tops so much that I left some with them when I left!

What will you take away from your visit to Sierra Leone?

I will take so much away from Sierra Leone - especially the ‘live in the moment’ approach to life of the local people. I overcame my fears and lack of confidence following my complex medical mix, to realise that I can still do amazing things, and I will. I’m proud that we have raised so much and feel so grateful for the opportunity I was given.

How much did you raise for the charity?

It was my aim to raise £2,250 (enough to build a school) and I’m very nearly there. This will provide enough funds to build a basic school; giving children a place to go and learn, have fun and feel safe. Thank you to everyone who has donated. You can still donate at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/energisedperformance
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