Wildlands:Gina's Journey

Comrades2018 race route

“At school I used to bunk athletics and any kind of sports day. You see, I was one of the rounder, chunkier girls, and felt that if I had to run, the other kids would probably end up laughing at me. So, I stayed away from the field and track. 

During my years, I ended up on the wrong side of the other track and developed an alcohol addiction. For me, alcohol was my safe place. If people laughed at me then, it was okay. I could numb out all the hurt and pain that they would project – real or not. I lived in fear.

Like most alcoholics, I got to the place where enough was enough and my life was unmanageable; I was tired of just existing, not living at all.  I got to my rock bottom and I reached out for help. 

One of the pre-requisites from my help was to start exercising. So, I joined a gym and every morning at 5am I would be on the treadmill. I would always make little goals for myself and extend my running time on the treadmill and would always feel so proud of myself when I pushed myself that little bit extra.  Whilst on the treadmill, I would gaze out of the window of the gym and see morning road runners and I so wished that I could run on the road like them! It would be a huge dream of mine to be able to learn to run on the road.  Even better, to one day run that huge race – The Comrades…

Time passed and my sobriety grew. I have been so blessed in my sobriety and my biggest gift (besides running) was meeting my future husband. Life is truly amazing. It just so happened that he is a runner who has run back to back Comrades. Pete then started teaching me how to run. I started from humble beginnings, of lamppost to lamppost. I then eventually entered my first 21km with him in November 2014. Since then my dreams have just continued to grow! No longer am I simply existing in the fog of alcohol or in total fear and anxiety – I am now living free.

I have been trying to qualify for the Comrades since 2015, but the time was not right. I needed to get more running experience and build up my speed and endurance. What I have learned is that consistency is truly key.  I can proudly say that I have qualified in September 2017 and will be running my first Comrades in 2018 in support of the Rhinos.

I am no longer a taker in life - I now am able to give back – the charity I have chosen is WILDLANDS. I am a proud Rhino Runner. To be able to support a charity whereby the cause cannot speak for themselves, gives my heart great joy.  We need to give back to the beautiful earth and living species that don’t have a voice and are endangered and which we take for granted every day.

To all of you, live your life to the full, follow your dreams and give back –this is the gift of living…not existing!”