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A picture paints a thousand words right?

When I first started writing The Fat Girls Guide to Running it was anonymous and I never posted photos of myself for fear of judgement. A few years later though I realised I had to be brave and start posting photos.

Why?

Because having bigger bodies be visible in sport is so important…if we are going to dispel the myth that sport is only for slim women, or that having a larger body is something we should hide.

I am a real advocate for celebrating women in sport, and sometimes I come across photos that are so powerful I just want to share them. The lady in today’s guest blog post has found herself in a few of these over the years, the story behind this one is such an important one…so here it is…

Race photos when you are a plus sized runner are usually a sticky subject.  By their very nature they are unflattering: you are in lycra; you are exercising so may well be sweaty and out of breath; and if you are anything like me you will only spot the photographer once they have already taken the photo so don’t have a chance to smile or pose.

On the weekend of the 16th and 17th of June I took part in an event called Hope24, near Plymouth, where you complete as many 5 mile laps as you can or want as a solo runner or in teams.  I had heard good reports of the friendliness of the event and loved the ethos which was repeated on social media in the run up to it and over the weekend.

In their own words ‘it was never intended as a race, but as a festival, a social gathering of like-minded people.  Whether you are an elite runner or a beginner, your own challenge is against yourself.  Therefore, we support all our runners and motivate each other.’

Looking at the race photos a couple of days later I came across what is probably the most unflattering photograph of me I have ever seen.  By rights, I should really hate it and want it wiped from the face of the earth but you know what, I don’t, I actually really love it, it makes me giggle, I have shown it to numerous people and even shared it on Instagram.

The reason I actually love the horrendousness of this photo is because of what it means to me and the moment it was taken in. It was the end of my 6th 5 mile lap, I had completed 30 miles over the 24 hours.

I had set myself a target of 6 laps but almost stopped at 5 as it was going to rain, I was tired and just wanted to pack my tent up and drive the 90 mins to get home. For a change, I didn’t take the easy way out, with the encouraging messages of some friends from the Clubhouse (who had been messaging me keeping me company all weekend) I went out on my 6th lap.

Shortly after I started the lap the rain came down and I got soaked. When I came round and saw the finish line after 1hr 48mins of walking in the rain to my surprise I felt completely overwhelmed and I had to try really hard to not burst into tears.

I don’t think I realised the effect setting myself a goal and actually achieving it would have on me.

Last summer at Spitfire Scramble, a similar 24 hour event I attended as part of two TFTR teams (one of the most amazing weekends I have had with the inspiring warriors of the Clubhouse) I chickened out of doing a final lap for various reasons. Then later in the year I attempted to do the Loch Ness marathon, struggled early on and my head completely went and I pulled out at the half way mark.  Those two things have played on my mind ever since and really damaged my running confidence.

So I have decided to completely celebrate this photo. I am very proud of the person I see in that picture, it is me having dug deep, pushed myself and achieved my goal. I completed 30 miles (ultra distance) on my own, the last 5 miles in the rain, I was emotional, tired and wet and a complete badass!!

An absolute BADASS!!!!

Look out for tomorrows blog post about The Spitfire Scramble which Mandy took part in this weekend as a pair. This is Mandy at last years event…what a picture hey?

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