I have a friend named Rhonda-Marie Avery. We haven’t been friends for long, but she treats me like I’ve known her my whole life. Along with being my friend, she’s a Mom, a massage therapist, a runner, a cyclist, a swimmer, and a massive dreamer. Rhonda dreams the kind of dreams that would scare the shit out of me. I chalk this up to a disadvantage that I have – I can see, and Rhonda can’t. Sure she can’t see many of the obstacles on the ground that she runs on, but she also doesn’t see the things that make me frightened of dreams like hers. She doesn’t see limits, she doesn’t see boundaries, and she absolutely has never seen the word CAN’T. I’m sure that this is her performance advantage and what makes her such a total badass.
One of Rhonda’s dreams is about to come alive. At 4:30AM on August 4, 2014 while most of us are asleep, she will take the first of so many steps towards running the entire 885km Bruce Trail in Ontario from Tobermory to Queenston. This journey is called Envisions, and she has a lot of reasons to do it. She is raising awareness and changing the way people see “disabled” sport and the athletes that participate in it. She is doing it to raise money for Achilles Canada, an organization that enables disabled athletes to participate in sport. She is also pushing herself into and beyond what any of us can see is a massive challenge.
I want to share a story that really opened my eyes to what a challenge this is for Rhonda. Its so much more than the obvious difficulty of running more than a marathon a day for 20 days on rough, rocky, rooty, hilly terrain (while getting chased by bears if you listen to what Rhonda is actually scared of!) That was what I saw as her obstacles. I have run these trails. I know that I have to stay totally focused on seeing the terrain or else I’ll be laid out flat on my face. I picked Rhonda up one day after she had hiked the last 20km to memorize the terrain, twists, and turns in hopes that her and her sister could run it by themselves, without guides, on the last day. She wasn’t sure it was possible to go it alone… I knew that this was a super tough stretch of trail so I wasn’t that surprised. She explained why. At the 15km point there is a road crossing. I cross it all the time as it falls in middle of one of my “home” trails. Its a road with relatively fast traffic, and not great visibility. I’ve never thought anything of crossing it. Rhonda covered 20,000 metres of trail that day, out of the 885,000 metres she will cover in August. She went over rocks, roots, steep switchback uphills, and short sharp descents. The only thing she wasn’t sure about was 15 metres of flat, smooth asphalt. I was blown away by how ignorant I was to how hard this thing actually was for her. I have seen what I thought were all of her challenges – those are only part of it. I haven’t stopped thinking about that conversation since that day. It really changed my perspective, and I hope that learning about her journey will change yours.
Rhonda is an amazing woman, doing amazing things, for amazing reasons. I am proud to know her, I am inspired by her, and I can’t wait to run with her in August. Please follow along, and join us on August 23 for a final day celebration at Queenston Heights Park – the 885km point on the Bruce Trail.
If nothing else, check out the 8% No Limit webpage – http://www.8percentnolimit.com/
Check out Rhonda’s GoFundMe page if you want to contribute any amount to her fundraising: http://www.gofundme.com/Envisions-On-The-Bruce
Check out her Envisions Blog to get some insight into who she is and what she’s doing: http://envisionsonthebruce.blogspot.ca/