Hampton Court Half Marathon and 10 Week Countdown

(As always, this is not a 68,263-word race review – DON’T WORRY).

I entered Hampton Court Half Marathon last minute, due to experiencing extreme FOMO. A brief recap of the race:

Hampton Court Half was a brilliantly organised race and hands down my favourite half marathon thus far. The course was varied and scenic, the pacers were fantastic (shout out to Phil), it was perfect running weather, I nabbed myself a PB and of course, I got to run with some of my favourite people.

My only complaint is that the promised high-quality medal that I was looking forward to (because I am a medal fiend) was of such poor quality that as soon as I put it on, it ripped in half. The same thing happened with my replacement medal, and others were clearly experiencing the same issue as the volunteers began collating a pile of all the broken but beautiful sheeny shiny medals. First world problem’s aside, it was a great morning and two days later I’m still on a post-race highhhh.

With sub 10 weeks to go until London Marathon, I’ve realised that I feel significantly stronger (both mentally and physically) vs. this time last year when training for Brighton Marathon. This will be my third marathon, and something feels different this time.

This is partly down to nutrition and hydration – for the first time, I feel like I’m eating and hydrating properly during my long runs (when I say properly, what I mean is that I’ve finally found what works for me). This will be put to the test next weekend when I run the Thames 20, and there is an 86% chance that I’ll be eating my words/vomiting on a friendly marshal by mile 16.

It’s also down to the simple fact that I’m taking my marathon training a lot more seriously this time around. Instead of scheduling in tempo runs and interval sessions and then deciding seconds before my run that I am ABSOLUTELY NOT capable of running that fast, I’ve just been getting on with it.

However, arguably the most important factor is that I have a stronger support network and am lucky enough to be surrounded by people who will push me when the going gets tough. I believe this is particularly important when it comes to endurance running (which I would class as marathon distance and beyond) when often the struggles can be more mental than physical.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in a long and slightly convoluted manner, is that I’m really excited to run the London Marathon. This is the first time that I’ve truly believed in myself, in terms of my running ability, and despite the ridiculously early starts and dreaded long runs, I’m looking forward to the final 10 weeks of training.

Are you running London? Do you have any tips? (I recently asked someone this and they told me it was the most underwhelming race of their life and that I would probably hate every second of it. If you are going to come up with any similar helpful tips, I would politely ask that you keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you and goodnight).

January/Winter Gratitude

I have found January to be a very exciting yet overwhelming month, with starting a new job, marathon training, buying my first little flat (!!!), a variety of volunteering commitments, financial struggles (new flat = permanently in the -£ for the next 86 years), etc.

Like many others, I have found myself counting down the days until January is over and we’re one month closer to spring. However, I also believe that by wishing time away you miss all the great things that are happening right now.

Something that has really helped me over the past couple of months, and in general when I’m feeling overwhelmed, is the five senses mindfulness exercise. This is an exercise that I discovered during CBT, focusing on bringing awareness to each of the five senses (I promise this isn’t as wishy-washy as it sounds).

This exercise involves isolating one sense at a time, essentially allowing you to reconnect to the present. I have a list on my phone that I refer to whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed – this list is too long to share, but here are a few of my favourites: 

Smell

Old books, new books, all the books.

Taste

Sipping a cup of tea. I know I’m supposed to say herbal tea, but that would be a lie – I am, of course, referring to a classic English breakfast.

Sound

Listening to Fleetwood Mac. Obvs. My marathon training playlist is also quite spectacular.

Sight

Experiencing the sunrise on a morning run. Reading screenshots of positive messages sent by friends and family. Looking through photos of inspirational places I have been, or any photos that trigger great memories.

Touch

Taking a warm bath. Spending a couple of minutes stroking a dog/cat/any animal that isn’t a tarantula.

All the above are simple things that I can do to calm my mind. Usually, I will pick one sense and focus solely on that – for me, taste and sight are usually the most effective self-soothing strategies.

I understand that there are many different versions of the five senses mindfulness exercise; this is just what works best for me, and of course, you need to work out what works best for you.

I know a lot of people are feeling a little bit wintered-out (I don’t think that’s a legitimate phrase but urban dictionary says it is soooo that’s that) – so why not give this exercise a go?

Please do let me know if you try this (or if it’s something that you already implement) – I would love to hear what your thoughts are and whether you think this is a helpful tool.

Balancing Marathon Training with Life

As week 4 of marathon training commences, thus the mileage steadily increases, now seems like the perfect time to talk about marathon training vs. life/work/family/social commitments etc.

Here are four things that I implement, or at least try to implement, to help ease the maranoia.

1.Run EARLY

This is stating the obvious, but it’s arguably the most important point.

On weekdays I wake up between 4:30am – 6am (dependent on my schedule for that day), partly because running first thing is my absolute favourite, and partly because often that’s my only available time slot to run. 

I must admit that the early morning runs are more appealing over summer, and sometimes I genuinely resort to slapping myself around the face to force myself to get out of bed. Slapping aside, I know that running always sets a productive and positive tone for the rest of the day, and that alone is all the motivation I need to just get on with it.

2. Meal planning (not meal prep) 

I rarely (i.e. never) meal prep, and I know I knowwww I should. Obviously if you do meal prep then that’s great – but personally, spending a couple of hours on a Sunday to prep my food for the week just doesn’t appeal to me, and there are other things I would rather be doing with that time.

However, I do roughly plan out my meals for the week. I’m a ravenous beast after long runs (to be honest I’m a ravenous beast most of the time) so I find this ever so helpful. 

3. Run-commute

This is something I will be able to do as of March (currently there’s not a shower in the office, so it would be a little unfair to subject my colleagues to the smell of my sweaty self all day!)

I used to run commute for part of the journey when I was working in Central London and it was a GAME CHANGER; raising my energy levels before work, saving some £££, and not being squished up against a commuter’s sweaty armpit on the tube are all huge pros.

4. Don’t be afraid to say no

I am terrible at this and often find myself committing to a million different things because I don’t want to hurt or disappoint anyone. As a consequence, I sometimes end up cutting a long run short, or not being able to focus on a session as in the back of my mind all I’m thinking is “I only have 20 minutes to get to XXX location as soon as this is over”.

Of course, this can and should be applied to all areas of life, not just running. However, I find it particularly challenging when marathon training to juggle all the things that I feel I should be doing.

Sometimes it’s okay to put yourself first and say no – taking care of yourself is NOT selfish.

I want to conclude this post by emphasising the fact that I know I have it easy compared to some. I have friends who have three kids, high pressured jobs (some work multiple jobs) and various other commitments – yet they still make the time to fit in a 20-mile run on a Sunday morning. These people are my inspiration, and if they can do it, I absolutely can do it.

How do you balance marathon training with life? Do you have any tips?

National Running Show 2019

The National Running Show is the UK’s biggest running expo, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham. After hearing great feedback from some friends who attended the 2018 event, I was really keen to get involved this year.

My honest feedback is that it was…okay. Really, really okay. Here’s a little summary below:

The Good

  • There was a superb lineup of speakers including Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Jenny Baker. I wasn’t aware of Jenny Baker prior to the expo, and hearing about her journey was really inspiring. Paula Radcliffe was a brilliant speaker of course; I was ever so keen to meet her in the VIP area but alas I’m not a VIP, and the queue was far too long.
  • Based on feedback from last years show, the variety of brands was much greater this year (Saucony, Ronhill, On, 2XU, Asics etc.). Most brands were offering some fairly hefty discounts, and I was delighted to finally find a pair of running gloves that are thicker than rice paper.
  • The tickets were very reasonably priced at £10, and like many others, I obtained free tickets through England Athletics.

Andddd, unfortunately, that’s about it for the pros.

The Bad

  • The expo was much smaller than I had anticipated, and the layout felt disjointed, making it difficult to navigate. It would have made more sense to group categories together e.g. a designated space for nutrition, a designated space for interactive activities, a designated retail space and so on.
  • Although there were over 170 brands, I was hoping to see some of the larger retailers such as Adidas, Nike, etc.
  • For the love of all that is holy, BRING SNACKS! The food was very pricy, which was to be expected, but this was ££££££££ (all the dollar bills).
  • Upon casually browsing (stalking) the #runshow19 hashtag from the previous day, it looked like there were some great freebies on offer. In reality, I came away with a small porridge sample and a broken pen.
  • I really, REALLY love running and everything to do with running, but the National Running Show just didn’t do it for me. It felt quite corporate, and there wasn’t much of a buzz. It’s worth highlighting that I attended on Sunday, and it seemed like perhaps Saturday was a better day to go in terms of the general atmosphere and excitement around the show.

Overall, I would give the National Running Show a generous 5.5/10. I would potentially consider going back next year if the organisers pull something spectacular out of the bag. The event needs to be bigger and better – more exhibitors, more relevant exhibitors, more samples and more AMBIENCE (favourite word).

2018 Review and Self-Reflection

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as no doubt you have read 86 million ‘2018 self-reflection’ blogs already!

2018 was a weird but wonderful year, and I wanted to share some of my highlights/poignant moments, because it’s important to celebrate success and not shy away from it.

January

I began training for my second marathon, taking on the Beast of the East and freezing my bojanglies off for 4 months.

February

Perhaps a menial highlight, but I discovered that I really like curry – it’s been pretty life changing!

March

I took part in my first 20-mile race, in which I threw up on someone’s shoes but then proceeded to eat three slices of cake.

April

Putting pen to paper and sharing my thoughts is something I greatly enjoy, therefore after much internal debate I started this blog!

May

A key learning rather than a highlight – DON’T suffer in silence. In May, I confronted my mental health issues after almost a decade of self-denial. Acceptance of this has been an overwhelmingly positive turning point – I may write a separate post about this at a later date.

June

I started running with the 5am club and made some fantastic, inspirational, slightly crazy new friends.

July

I took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, which is something I’ve wanted to do for many years. I’m so up for the National Three Peaks Challenge this summer – is anyone keen?!

August

I quit my job in order to pursue my passion – this was terrifying, but I am so, SO glad that I took the plunge.

September

I took part in the Great North Run, which wasn’t particularly great, but I did run my fastest half marathon with very little training which gave me a much-needed self-confidence boost.

October

I travelled to Malawi to join Dame Kelly Holmes and a team of 20 on the 2018 Orbis Challenge. It’s impossible to sum up this adventure in a couple of sentences… just. incredible.

November

Ahhh, the month of unicorns – I finally got my tattoo cover up and I blooooody love it! (Sorry Dad. Sorry Grandma).

December

I volunteered at Crisis at Christmas, alongside an amazing friend who I met this year. If you’re interested in finding out a little bit more about this, check out my latest post.

To summarise my year…

I realised that health & happiness is all that really matters. I recognised the importance of positive friendships (female friendships in particular) and became more aware of the influence that other people were having on me. I also made a conscious effort to be a little bit kinder to myself.

Before this gets waaaay too deep and meaningful, I’ll simply wish a (slightly belated) happy new year to you all! Thank you ever so much for supporting my blog, and I hope you will continue to read my ramblings in 2019.

Love,

Mell x

Why You Should Never Comment on Someone’s Food Choices

(Just me with a bread roll, you’re welcome.)

Last week, over a period of three days, I received 12 comments on my food choices. These comments came from the same three people – here are a few of my favourites:

“Mell’s eating chocolate! Bet that makes a nice change from all the rabbit food? HMMM?”

“Do you weigh out your water too?”  (This comment is made to me every morning when I weigh out my oats, followed by said person laughing hysterically at his own joke. Every. Single. Morning.)

“Oh, for god’s sake, what’s the point in you coming if you’re not going to drink?!”

A few years ago, when I first began making changes to my diet, I would simply laugh these comments off. Sometimes I would panic and make up excuses regarding my food choices – “I’m not drinking tonight as I’m taking antibiotics” was a classic.

The truth is that I no longer wish to drink on a regular basis, and I weigh out my food because I want to ensure that I’m eating enough to fuel my running – it’s as simple as that. Obviously, I shouldn’t have to justify my eating habits. I’m genuinely curious, why do you care what I eat?! Perhaps this is a cultural, gender or generational thing?

Weight loss/gain comments come under the same remit. I was recently congratulated (?!) on my weight, informed that the reason my running has improved is due to apparent weight loss, and advised to “keep up the good work.”

Just a polite reminder: “You’ve lost/gained weight” is not necessarily a compliment; in fact, this comment made me feel extremely awkward. I know that I’m not alone in this, and I’ve had numerous conversations with friends who have been put in similarly uncomfortable situations.

This may sound like a trivial issue, but it is closely linked with harmful societal norms about women’s bodies.

Criticising somebody else’s food preferences, or their weight, is an invasion of their privacy.

If you are genuinely concerned about someone’s eating habits, then, of course, that’s a completely different issue. If you are simply projecting your own negativity insecurities onto others, then I would politely (but not that politely) ask you to mind your own business.

Some people love to judge and condemn others (shout out to Hortencia), and I still haven’t worked out the most effective way to deal with these comments. Any tips on this would be much appreciated, as the festive period is rife for “OOOOOH should you be eating that?!”

Christmas Sadness ft. Indulgent Guinea Pigs

Amidst the copious amounts of Christmas gift guides, clever marketing tactics and delicious recipes, I wanted to touch upon something that I wish was discussed more often.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve felt differently about Christmas. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but volunteering at Crisis and my trip to Malawi are certainly contributing factors. DON’T PANIC, I haven’t turned into a massive Scrooge; my values have simply evolved with age, and that’s completely natural.

I adored Christmas growing up, surrounded by family and friends and unnecessary amounts of tasty treats. I’m incredibly privileged, which perhaps gives me no right to have Christmas sadness, but nonetheless there it is simmering away like a sad brussel sprout.

We’re all aware that Christmas is a celebration of mindless consumerism at its finest. I came to terms with that a long time ago, but I think it really hit me this year when somebody asked me (in early October?!) if I had finished buying all my Christmas presents yet. No, Hortencia, of course I haven’t you raging lunatic.

A small part of my Christmas sadness comes down to the fact that most of the festive celebrations that I loved so much as a young whippersnapper are no longer in existence. The main part is my internal eye-roll when Hortencia boasts about spending £3500 on her guinea pig. It’s the unrealistic expectations of perfection, the unnecessary pressure to be happy, the set of rules and regulations that can be so difficult for a lot of people.

I know I am being hypocritical; over the festive period, I will most certainly be partaking in activities such as visiting Winter Wonderland and spending £92345 on a mug of mulled wine which contains 1% wine, 99% water.

I’ll also be volunteering* again, running a LOT, working, and of course spending time with my favourite people. I will be gifting people with experiences rather than mindless tat/unwanted presents and cards.

I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy; I know that I’m not doing anything ground-breaking and of course I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about enjoying Christmas! However, I do believe that you should focus on whatever makes you feel happy and fulfilled, rather than what you feel you ‘should’ be doing over the festive period.

In the least dramatic way possible, Christmas will never be what it once was for me, and that’s a good thing.

*I will write a separate blog about Crisis and some of the other charity work that I will be doing. I would like to emphasise that I strongly agree with the mantra ‘Volunteering is for life, not just for Christmas.’

Gender Inequality in Cross-Country Running

When I was 6, I went to my first ever Arsenal match with my Dad. I can remember the day SO clearly, partly because my Dad covered my ears throughout to block out any “rude words” shouted by other fans, but also because this is the first time that I was exposed to any form of gender gap.

I struggled to concentrate on the game as I was too busy asking questions about Arsenal Ladies FC;

“Can we go and watch the ladies next time?”

“Why have I never seen Arsenal Ladies on tv?”

“But WHYYYYY does nobody go and watch the ladies?!”

I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness that at the time I didn’t really understand and proceeded to sulk the whole way home. Twenty years later, I felt a similar sense of sadness upon discovering that women’s races are often significantly shorter than men’s at cross country events. *

In January this year, I along with 3000 others signed a petition calling for equal distances among men and woman. I’m unsure as to what (if any) steps have been taken since the petition was put into action, although a bit of Googling has resulted in a very vague update that UK Athletics is working towards equal distances.

I want to make it clear that I am a HUGE fan of cross-country. I love that it’s not elitist, I love the general excitement/team spirit/build up, and most of all I love running through the mud and sludge. I am getting mini palpitations of excitement just writing this!

However, the unequal distances baffle me. I have questioned this matter many times and am always greeted with a response along the lines of “well, it’s a very traditional sport.” I’ve also been informed that a lot of male runners would prefer a shorter distance… no comment.

There is no logical reason that I can think of that justifies this discrepancy, and quite frankly it worries me that 6-year-old Mell watching the football feels the same as 27-year-old Mell running cross-country.

*This post focuses specifically on cross-country running in England. In Scotland and the World Cross Country Championships, equal distances have been implemented. 

Am I a “loud woman?”

A couple of weeks ago I read an article* about “loud women” (whatever that means) and immediately felt compelled to write about it. Whilst I wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a “loud woman’” and obviously this is a ridiculous phrase, there were many aspects of this article that resonated with me and I wanted to share a couple of them.

  • Loud shaming

I can’t count the amount of times I have been told to use my ‘inside voice’, both as a child and as an adult. Approximately 70% of the time the person telling me to be a little bit quieter has a very valid point; of course, there are certain situations where one should be quiet, and I definitely need to learn how to whisper!

However, being told to use my ‘inside voice’ always brings about a familiar sense of shame – the feeling that I have spoken out of turn or embarrassed myself in some way, when in fact this is just my voice, booming out like a big old foghorn.

Am I being ridiculous? Am I being over-sensitive? Perhaps, but I do believe that loud shaming is an expression that should be recognised and acknowledged.

  • What is a loud man?

Obviously loud men do exist, but I think the word ‘loud’ has a different meaning across genders. If I were to simplify it, I would say that loud men are confident, go-getters, intelligent and attractive. Loud women, on the other hand, are overpowering, intimidating and somewhat hostile…perhaps even irritating?

I am being rather presumptuous here, as I have based this purely on personal experience, and the experiences of those close to me.

Therefore, I would love to open this discussion to a wider audience. I would also be really interested in hearing your thoughts in the context of running** (of course!) so please do get in touch!

*The article was written by Viv Groskop, author of How to Own the Room: Women and the Art of Brilliant Speaking

**Gender equality in sport has always been a controversial topic, and one that I am interested in exploring in later posts.

My blog has been nominated for the Running Awards; if you’ve enjoyed my posts, I would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to vote for me. Simply go to Blog (Personal) > Mell Telka > VOTE VOTE VOTE.

Tough Mudder; A very Tory pastime

Just over a month ago I completed my first Tough Mudder Full, and in doing so ticked another goal off my 30 before 30 list…only 15 more to go! Apologies for the belated blog – due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to post after the event.

Prior to TM, I thought it would be interesting to review some feedback from others…it turns out that there are some VERY strong opinions on the TM events!

Here are two of my (almost) favourite comments (my actual favourite comments cannot be shared with the public as they were so offensive):

“I’ve never heard of this ‘Tough Mudder’ or similar events, now I know that if I see events like this on my travels, I know it’s a bunch of knobheads pretending to be hard men and I can avoid them”

“A very Tory pastime”

Although a lot of the feedback was hilarious, I was and still am a little perplexed about the outrage that TM has caused. I have read some terrible event feedback on a variety of races, but nothing like this…who are all these angry individuals?! Why are they so full of rage?!

Contrarily, I thought that TM London South was a fantastic event; it was exceptionally well organised, it was both a physical and mental challenge, and I did not come across a single moron on the course which is a very rare occurrence. In fact, all participants that I encountered were quite the opposite of moronic.

My only criticism would be as follows:

  • Why is it called London South? It’s most definitely not in London.

(This is a rhetorical question, we all know that this is simply a clever marketing technique.)

  • ££££££££££

The fact that I forked out £140 still gives me palpitations. This amount does not even cover bag drop, parking etc. I was also perplexed to discover that TM charges spectators £10 for the privilege of watching participants crawl around in the mud like sweaty little piglets.

Would I partake in another Tough Mudder? Probably not, purely because I could run four marathons for that price.

Do I think it’s a very Tory pastime? Quite frankly I have no idea, but I did thoroughly enjoy that review.

If you have taken part in any of the Tough Mudder events please do let me know your thoughts!

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My blog has been nominated for the Running Awards; if you’ve enjoyed my posts, I would really appreciate it if you could take a moment to vote for me. Simply go to Blog (Personal) > Mell Telka > VOTE VOTE VOTE.

My Winter Resolutions

I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, purely because I don’t see the point in making a resolution just because I feel like I HAVE to. I don’t want to make resolutions based on the expectations of others or the need to conform to societal norms (which is what I have done in the past.) I would rather make goals/resolutions throughout the year because I WANT to.

Don’t worry, this is not yet another goal-setting guide. I just thought it might be interesting to share some of my winter resolutions and hopefully inspire you to have a think about what you want to achieve over the next couple of months.

Reading 

I have always been a massive book worm. When I was a young whippersnapper, I handwrote hundreds of books; when I was 9, I even wrote my own spin off Harry Potter series (Tamara Jenkins and the Eagle Cauldron, absolute classic) accompanied by some very questionable illustrations. Basically I was (and probably still am) a massive geek with a very overactive imagination.

I frequently set myself reading goals, and for the next couple of months this involves reading more non-fiction, focusing predominantly on feminist non-fiction. I’ve just started reading Rise Up Women! by Diane Atkinson which explores the fight for women’s suffrage and will also be reading The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic.

Do you have any non-fiction feminist book recommendations? If so I would love to hear them!

Running 

MORE STRENGTH TRAINING.

I have always ensured to supplement running with strength training, and in the lead up to London Marathon I want to focus on this more than ever.

That’s all I need to say on this one!

Embrace Fear

I have been contemplating a change in career for over 2 years but have only recently been brave enough to go for it.

What’s been holding me back? It has nothing to do with fear of failure – it’s more to do with the expectations of others RE not following the career path that I have worked so hard on for the past 10 years.

None of us like to disappoint people, especially those close to us, and my change in career has disappointed a surprising amount of people. The internal battle of wanting to pursue my passion whilst feeling incredibly guilty has had a detrimental impact on my mental health, and in all honesty, I am still struggling with this.

However, I have finally come to the realisation that my career choice is nobody else’s business. I still have a long way to go, and some big decisions to make, therefore my key goal for the next few months is to be brave, embrace the fear and pursue my passion – I’m super excited for what’s to come!

When do you set goals/resolutions? I would love to hear from you!

Malawi Diaries Part 2: Cycle Challenge & YODEP

The second part of my Malawi Diaries will cover our visit to YODEP Village Community Project and our next challenge – the 55k Zomba Plateau Ride (climbing over 6000ft!)

I am a (very) nervous cyclist, therefore I anticipated that this would be my biggest challenge of the three. However, this brutal mountain bike was tougher than I ever could have anticipated, both physically and mentally.

Much like the Mulanje Mountain run, the route was very technical and therefore tricky to navigate. There were two options for the cycle, 35k or 55k, and in my head I was always going to complete the shorter ride (which was still an ABSOLUTE beast.) However, upon approaching the 35k split (whilst gripping onto my handlebars so tightly that I was beginning to lose sensation in my fingers), I was encouraged by my wonderful teammates to go for the 55k.

My biggest cycling fear is riding downhill, and this was downhill like I had never seen it before; steep, rough terrain with large rocks, holes and various other obstacles. We cycled through forests, streams and picturesque waterfalls – the views were INCREDIBLE.

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Although I wish I could say that I began to relax as the ride progressed, my honest feedback is that I felt anxious for approximately 90% of the Zomba Plateau challenge. Anxious is probably an understatement – I was sweating like a pregnant warthog.

However, it was an incredible experience, and I am very proud of everyone that completed it and so thankful for all the encouragement and words of wisdom from our fantastic guides. Despite my fear of the bike, this will not be the end of my cycling ‘career’ as I am far too stubborn/motivated/crazy to give up – plus, I’ve committed to take on my first triathlon next year!

Another highlight from my time in Malawi was our visit to YODEP Village Community Project.

YODEP (Youth for Development and Productivity) is a nonprofit community based organisation, established to help address socio-economic issues encountered by orphaned children, women and youth.

We received a very warm welcome upon our arrival at YODEP including allllll the singing, dancing, smiles and laughter.

A 5k run around the village really highlighted the strength and resilience of these amazing children – some ran in flip flops, some ran in odd shoes, and some ran in no shoes, but this most definitely did not stop them! These kids are SO fast and so talented, and with the right support and opportunities, could potentially go on to become world-class athletes.

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This was another eye-opening experience, and one that I will never forget. It was a pleasure meeting the kids at YODEP, who not only displayed exceptional sporting talent, but were also so welcoming, curious and kind-hearted.

If you are interested in helping YODEP, please let me know and I can provide further info!