The purpose of life is to have adventures.
After I ran Voyageur 50 mile trail ultra in July 2014. This is the race that saw Break the Stigma Project Running Team being born, Mr. Chris Martin from Paragon Billing, our sponsor, talked to me about this Badwater Cape Fear Race in his beloved Wilmington, NC area, in Bald Head Island.
His idea was to fly the whole team to this race and run it. I didn’t know what to think of it at the time. I didn’t think it was possible to get the 4 of us there – we all work or go to school or both. But, last December Chris sent me a message once again and this time he wanted to get all the people ready and a commitment from everyone to fly out to North Carolina. All worked out well and on 5/20/15 we were on our way to Badwater Cape Fear, Bald Head Island North Carolina.
We arrived at Bald Head Island; I don’t think we were expecting much of this place. Sometimes it is nice to just go to a place that one has not heard much about and just discover it on your own, I sure felt that way. Just being near the ocean for a couple of days was a plus for us.
What I didn’t expect was to absolutely love this place from the second I stepped on it. The first thing I loved about it is that there are no motor vehicles allowed in this island, just golf carts and bicycles. It was great! This was obvious to me while running on the pavement the next morning- I could breathe!
We arrived later in the day, our friend Kim made a call to the race director and he was Ok with us to come over and pick up our bibs, even though it had been over one hour since the pick-up time was closed. Chris, the race director was very welcoming, which it made us feel very well.
The day of the race we were up and ready to go. The day was cool and a little breeze in the air. Perhaps cold for the locals, but not for a bunch of people from Minnesota and Wisconsin- we were in paradise baby! We’ve been running on negative temps all darn winter, anything over 35 degrees feels like summer at this time of the year for us.
I loved that the National Anthem was played right before the start of the race. I don’t remember the last time I heard the National Anthem being played prior to a race. It gives you a nice motivation to go for it.
Mike and Jake had a plan, it was to win this race, or at least give it the best shot at it. April is a great runner and competitor, I know she also wanted to enjoy it and take it easy. I am by far the weakest link on this team, I just wanted to have fun and meet people.
I ran with Chris Martin for a while until I had to stop for an early bathroom break while still on the pavement. Chris kept on going. I ran with this person, Todd from NC, even though he is from Philly, great person. I enter the only portion of trail we were going to run in the island- it was like being home in Northern Minnesota, I went as fast as I could, I loved it!
Once I got to the beach I was able to run with Breanna for a few miles. What a friendly and amazing human being she is! I am so impressed by her. I asked her if she would love to run for team BSP in some capacity. She said yes. Already a winning situation, thank you Breanna! You will hear more from this amazing person soon.
I wanted to make sure I would stop at the aid stations and say thank you to the volunteers, without them the races would simply stink. So, thank you volunteers once again!
All along the way out and back the runners in this race were a bunch of grown children having fun. You would not think this was an ultramarathon and at times hard by how many smiles, high fives were given to everyone along the way. It just made me relax and have even more fun. This is my only race of the year for me and I wanted to make it a good one to remember, for all the right reasons.
After I was done running I went for a short run again, back to the beach. I wanted to loosen up a little and also see some of the runners and cheer them up. Once I got back to the finish line there were people wanting to inquiry about Break the Stigma Project and the reason for it. I spoke to people who have been affected by Mental Illness in so many ways. The support and kind words were amazing, very kind people.
After winning the race Mike was asked how it felt to win the race. His words (not word by word) were that it is not about winning but to be here sharing the space with the ultra-community and spreading the word on Mental Health (BSP didn’t pay him to say that I promise).
Break the Stigma Runners are great runners. You may not have heard of them previously as their races are mostly in the Midwest. But, they are great runners and they are most importantly amazing human beings, all of them. That I can promise you! They are great ambassadors to breaking the stigma of mental illness.
The race was amazing for all of us. We got good results in the positions with 1st and 2nd in the Male and 2nd in Female 51 miles and 7th in the overall 50K. But, for us the biggest winner was Mental Health and the opportunity to open up the conversation even a little more.
Chris and Laurie and the rest of the Badwater peeps put on a great race and in the process found a place that it is as close to paradise as it gets in this planet- everyone should consider taking part of this event every year. Plus the money raised here is going to the BHI conservancy – no way to lose here!
Break the Stigma Project was born while running trails in Minnesota one day in July 2013 and since the project has been growing and reaching out to so many people- we want to educate everyone, from both sides of the spectrum that it is ok to talk about Mental Health issues that affect us all.