A Just Walk (run, hike, etc…)

"…to the Rock that is higher…"


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A Home Away From Home: the Relentless Chiang Mai 24-hour Endurance Run

Dear friends,

Here is the write up about the 24-Hour run I put on for FUN, as well as a fund-raiser for Relentless. However, no photos are found on THIS page because I’d have to go back through and re-load all the photos again here, which I won’t do in the interest of time and saving consternation. I encourage you to click on over  to the page on Relentless where I’ve posted the full deal. The event was truly special for everyone and we all did have fun! It was a lot of work but so worth it in the end! I’m so grateful for all your thoughts and prayers and for all the help by volunteers here! I’m also very grateful for all the donations that came in for Relentless!

Again, I’d like to encourage all of you who follow this blog to also follow the blog on Relentless, as well as the Facebook page to keep  up with what I’m doing.

Blessed to be a blessing!

On 25 May at 2pm, the first wave of runners started off the line for the Second Annual Relentless Chiang Mai 24 Hour Endurance Run. It was quite an international group, with twelve different nationalities represented among the 42 participants. Even so, ultramarathon culture transcends all others as the main aid station along the looped course became a home away from home – even as the many expatriates already call Thailand a home away from home.

Located near Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, Huay Tung Tao Lake is encircled by a 3.7 km, nicely paved asphalt loop. The gently rolling road provides just enough diversity to keep the muscles interested, and there is enough shade to keep runners cool for much of the way.

After the swimmers, picnickers and fishermen packed up for the night, the full moon came out so that nobody needed to wear a headlamp. Crickets and frogs joined the chorus. Magical.

Runners had the option of running 6 or 12 hours, and four teens participated in the 3-hour kids’ division! A relay option for teams of up to eight people was offered for the 24-hour time, but nobody took advantage of that – everyone wanted to go hard-core solo!

Another unique feature was that the 3-, 6-, and 12-hour runners had the option of starting at either 2pm, 6pm, or 10pm. Some of the participants wanted to start earlier and get their run in, while others cherished running through the night. This timing also helped to spread out the runners and give the 24-hour people more company through the night.

This event pulled the absolute best from everyone. It was never about “winning” to beat another person – as there were no prizes for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. It was all about challenging oneself – an opportunity to push further than previously attempted. The top 12-hour finisher had never run further than 55 km before his remarkable 85 km distance! Nearly all of the runners set a personal record, either in the most distance ever covered or the fastest time it took to cover a certain distance. Most set personal records of over 20-30 km.

A timed event, unlike a distance-oriented event, gives participants the opportunity, when they are tired, to take a break. They eat something, drink some coffee, stretch, and re-evaluate. Then they are ready to head back out for more. It was a safe environment in which to push themselves further than they thought possible. It was exciting to be a part of an event in which so many people came away having bettered themselves and achieved something great.

The aid station crew was no less exceptional. Many friends and relatives of runners volunteered their services and helped crew everyone – not just “their guy.” The kids who ran the 3 hours also stayed up most of the night and were the most cheerful and helpful crew ever! Several volunteers (including the kids) took laps with runners they had met only a few hours prior to keep them company and encourage them along the way. This was most helpful during the hot, middle part of the second day when we were all flagging a bit.

Finally, another remarkable note about this event is that it was a fundraiser for Relentless, a project that fights human trafficking through health care. Although this was a small event, approximately $8000 was raised, over $3000 of that by a single participant!

I look forward to hosting this event again next year and I hope that those of you who may be traveling through Southeast Asia looking for an ultramarathon will consider joining us next year!


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Catching up on 2012

I hope that this finds your new year a happy one so far! Although I want to jump ahead and start discussing this year, I still have some unfinished business to write about 2012.

RELENTLESS After returning from the States in November, I dove into deep water preparing a series of workshops on child abuse and neglect for residents at Chiang Mai University School of Medicine. Please see this post on the Relentless weblog for more about that. Another few days in Bangkok in December saw some partnerships down there solidly come together.

The heavy cotton skirt got pretty hot, and I had constant wardrobe malfunctions, but it was a lot of fun. All the smiles were worth it!

The heavy cotton skirt got pretty hot, and I had constant wardrobe malfunctions, but it was a lot of fun. All the smiles were worth it!

RUNNING The Chiang Mai Marathon was held on 23 December. Due to some injuries and health issues, my training had not been what I had hoped it would be so I thought of a way to take the pressure off myself and not take myself too seriously: run in costume! A friend of mine had the perfect idea to run as a Thai school girl! I called a colleague who works in a children’s home and asked if I could borrow one of the girl’s uniforms. Perfect! It was immediately culturally recognizable, and very perplexing (and funny!) that a farang woman would be running in such an outfit! I still did OK – good enough for 3rd place in my age group which gave me an extra $100 towards my vacation fund.

URBANA The workshop series took me right up to 24 December and on Christmas evening I boarded a plane to speak at Urbana. The conference, for the first time, had an emphasis on health care ministries and I was honored to be invited to speak on human trafficking, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as sit on a panel of cross-cultural health care workers. The talks went well and I was talking with students for an hour after each session! Otherwise, I stayed pretty busy with my own work, networking, and meetings – Urbana is a great place for that!

HOLIDAY After Urbana, I made an 8-day lay-over in LA where I stayed with friends in Santa Monica, CA. It was my first true holiday since attending Breathe in 2010! I ran on the beach and in the mountains every day (a total of 101 miles)! I saw movies, went to art galleries, and basically didn’t use my brain for the entire break!

BOOKS I can’t let 2012 go without mentioning some of the best books I read last year and making these recommendations to you!

  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a most excellent book! In fact, I was preparing an entire blog post to discussing this, but I got really busy so I dropped it. Perhaps if I have time to write in the future…
  • Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden is another gripping true story of the only person born in a North Korean labor camp known to have successfully escaped.
  • The novel of the year for me (perhaps the only novel I read) was Byzantium by Steven Lawhead. Not a new book, but if you haven’t read it you are missing out.
  • Other notables include The Other Side of Normal by Jordan Smoller (psychology) and Waterlogged by Timothy Noakes, MD (endurance hydration).

There is, of course, much more to say and reflect upon between these sterile lines of text. There is more I’d like to share with you. Unfortunately, by the end of the year my margin got totally eaten away by a number of things outside my control (and a few things within it). Now I’m trying to re-establish a better rhythm of life for this year. However, just catching up from a week of vacation can be enough to cause burn out! I’ll not let this happen.

Do take care, and please send me a note…


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Fall Tour 2012

I will soon be returning to the States for over two months but the schedule is packed! Below is a brief overview of where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. The dates listed are fairly firm. However, opportunities for speaking at particular venues in those places are still being worked out. I hope that there will be an opportunity for me to meet as many of you as possible. If I’m going to be in your area and you would like to meet with me or host a gathering, please let me know.

SEPTEMBER

2 -6         Arrive Fort Wayne, IN

7-8          Hallucination 100 mile ultramarathon in Pickney, MI

9-11       Novi, MI. Speaking at Christ Covenant Church

12-15     Ft. Wayne

16-29     Sacramento, CA attending a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam training for healthcare professionals presented by the California Clinical Forensic Medical Training Center, UC Davis.

30 – 3     Orange County, CA

OCTOBER

4-10       Los Angeles area, meeting with community groups of Pacific Crossroads Church as well as meeting a number of other people involved in counter-trafficking efforts.

11-13     Lincoln, NE Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at University of Nebraska-Lincoln I’m giving a talk on health and human trafficking

14-16     Denison, IA meeting with supporters and speaking at a local church

17-18     Ft. Wayne

20-21     Tussey Mountainback 50 mile ultramarathon

19-23     Upper Darby, PA (suburb of Philadelphia) to meet with Interserve HQ

24-27     Nashville, TN meeting with Abolition International

28-29     Fort Wayne

30-3       Grand Rapids, MI

NOVEMBER

4              Fort Wayne (LWCC)

5-7          Indianapolis, IN

8-10       Louisville, KY Global Missions Health Conference (I’m a Dean and Speaker)

11-12     Ft. Wayne (GCC)

13           Depart for Thailand

I’m very much looking forward to seeing so many of you!


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Run for 24 Hours of Justice

Dear friends – just a reminder that the Huay Tung Tao Trek 6/12/24 hour Endurance Run is just 10 days away! I’m making this an opportunity to raise funds for RELENTLESS by asking people to pledge a monetary amount per mile (or kilometer) that I run. More details can be found on this earlier post. Whether or not you donate, please do think of me and my friends as we push ourselves to the limit for a good cause!

HTT Trek flyer


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For The Boys

Relentless

Last week we had another clinic – this time with Urban Light in Chiang Mai. As my friend at Urban Light has beautifully written, it was “more than just a medical clinic”. I highly recommend that you click over to his blog to read what he had to say about the day.

We saw 14 of the boys who regularly participate in the activities at the Urban Light center. The “clinic” was held at the center during the hours when the guys are normally hanging out, learning English, working or playing at the computer, etc. Some of the guys also participate in a baking class (at another site), learning kitchen basics, baking techniques, and other life skills.

The clinic was of course to be a way to bring health care to the boys who don’t normally have any health care: they have no money, they may face discrimination, and seriously…

View original post 180 more words


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Running for Justice

Hello friends!

Many of you know that I like to run long distances. I love challenging myself to see just how far I can run with the time and resources that I’ve got. Many of you know that is how I came up with the name Relentless. The more I do these ultra marathons, the more I want to do the next one. Unfortunately, there aren’t many ultra marathons within a reasonable travel distance – most of them require international travel – which I don’t have the time or money to do. Therefore, why not make my own ultra marathon event? Just for FUN! In China, I organized a Cha-Bu-Duo (“close enough” in Mandarin) 10km run for my friends, and it was a blast!

An ultra marathon distance event, however, requires quite a bit more organizing so I decided to make the race a timed event, as in, how far can participants run in the allotted time? I want to see what I can do in 24 hours, but to get some friends running with me, there will be 6 and 12 hour events as well. My friend’s kids want to run as well, so a 3-hour kids division will also be offered! This event is designed as a “fun run” with participants anteing up an entry fee to help cover the cost of rentals, food, water, and other necessary items for the race. It is not a fund-raiser for my project per se. Other runners are welcome to raise money for their own projects in a similar way as I am. We plan to start our adventure at 6pm the evening of 20 July 2012. We will all be running through the night (cooler that way) and some of us will still be running all through the next day.

For this 24-hour endurance event, I’d like to raise money for my project Relentless (www.gorelentless.wordpress.com). Specifically, I would like to fund medical outreaches to red-light districts and after-care shelters for abused and trafficked people. The money raised through this event will help outfit my medical kit with supplies and medicines such as a blood-pressure cuff, extra stethoscope, scale, eye-chart, commonly used over-the-counter medications, disposable clinic supplies (e.g. gloves, swabs, hand sanitizer), and other items. I could also help fund the expenses of Thai volunteers (nurses, doctors, etc.) who are willing to travel with me to these places. If you have any questions about how the money will be used, please contact me directly.

Please consider pledging a certain amount of money per kilometer run. Yikes! (You might think) Katherine could run quite a few kilometers in 24 hours! I actually don’t know what I can do, since I’ve never done anything like this before. However, knowing that I can raise more money with each step I take will motivate me to push myself!  My goal is to run 100 miles (about 160km).

Upon completion of this even I will inform you of the distance covered and the total pledge amount and the details of how you may choose to give. Donations can be made through my sending agency Interserve by this website:  https://capitaldynamics.com/interserve*, or by check mailed to Interserve USA PO Box 418 Upper Darby, PA 19082-0418. I can also accept cash or a transfer via PayPal and I will issue you a receipt from Interserve for your donation to Relentless.

What I need to hear from you is how much you plan to pledge and the method you would like to use for donation to help me keep track of the person and amount.
 
Please return the following information to me via email pediattude@gmail.com or gorelentless@gmail.com.
 
Name______________________ Email:_____________________________  pledge _________ per km
Preferred method of donation: online or check donation to Interserve_____   PayPal ______  cash_____
 

Thank you so much for your support in this RELENTLESS effort!

Katherine

*note, some people get an error message saying that this is an unsecure site. If that happens, please visit the Interserve USA website for more information.

24 hours of:

justice.compassion.service.joy.freedom.hope.love.patience.endurance.shalom

kindness.humility.peace.sacrifice.perseverance.forgiveness.promise

fun.truth.encouragement.focus.courage.passion.relentlessness


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Songkran and other Hot (season) Activities

This weekend is the Thai New Year and the Songkran Water Festival. Basically the entire country is in a giant water fight and NOBODY is immune to getting wet! It comes at the peak of hot season and the water splashing is quite refreshing!  Chiang Mai is one of the go-to places in Thailand to celebrate. I have been in other places in Thailand during Songkran, but I have never seen anything like this! The moat that surrounds the old city is lined with people and the whole city is jammed with cars all around the moat and roads leading to/from the central city, and pretty much anywhere one can find a station of people ready to douse whatever person or vehicle comes along.  It’s such a fun time, and perfectly good and right for everyone to soak a perfect stranger.

Think about it, grown-ups and kids playing squirt-guns and others riding around in the back of pick-up trucks with drums of water throwing buckets of water and cannoning everyone. It is license to PLAY – it is generally good clean fun and everyone has a great time. I remarked to my friends that it looks totally ridiculous to see adults with enormous brightly colored squirt guns running around. It IS GOOD to let go and get ridiculous sometimes – it is good for the soul indeed. Thailand is known as the land of smiles and this festival shows them off brilliantly.

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The work is growing steady and sure. I’m networking like crazy in Thailand and am currently involved in a couple of networks of organizations working in counter-trafficking and general child-protection efforts. Within these networks, I’m working on developing some tools to assess the medical/health needs of the organizations, planning some trainings, and learning much about the current situation in Thailand. Meanwhile I am doing a few “red-light” clinics and am developing more with other groups. The international projects and travel have slowed a bit – this is a blessing as I need and want to focus on Thailand. Even so, the ones going are keeping me pretty busy! I still go to Cambodia fairly frequently (my next trip is in early May) as the medical advisor for the Chab Dai Coalition.

One of the upcoming things I’m looking forward to is that I’m going to start mentoring a Thai Pediatric resident who is also in my Friday night small group. She just finished her internship and has a couple more years to go. I’m also learning a lot from the couple of doctors who lead our small group, and it is a refreshing time (and helps me with my Thai language as well).

Of course I’m still running! I launched ChUG – Chiang Mai Ultrarunners Group – to help bring together those few hardcore runners who like to go long. It has been fun to have others to run with on Saturday morning long runs. Since long races (there is a 10k many weekends throughout the year) are few and FAR (as in distance) between, we sometimes hold our own “Cha-bu-duo” races – like the marathon we did for our friend whose goal is to run a marathon every month. He couldn’t find one that he could do in March, so we did one with him, complete with homemade medals!

Three of us are wearing our Chiang Mai marathon shirts as a kind of team uniform.