Earlier this month Cassandra took on the challenge of a life time to help support The Hibbs Lupus Trust.
Cassandra, who lives in the US, decided that, despite suffering with lupus, she was going to take on a gruelling 160 mile run AROUND Kilimanjaro before attempting to climb to the summit of the world’s largest free standing mountain at 19,341ft!
We are delighted to say that Cassandra completed both challenges as well as climbing to the summit of Mount Meru. Thank you Cassandra for your amazing support!
Here is what Cassandra had to say about the experience…
“Solomens or Brooks, Solomens or Brooks. It’s a tough decision for day one of the eight day stage run. My coach calmly reminds me to go with the shoes that leave the least blisters but after 20 miles, is there a difference? Really? Feeling anxious but prepared, everything is in place from the Smartwool socks to the Aleve. Little did I know that nothing could have prepared me for the 8 days to follow. I’m talking Tarzan style steep valley’s, over and over again, waterfalls, swinging vines, monkeys, and farm after farm. Just when you could swear you are in the middle of nowhere, an unattended toddler sitting in the grass patiently waiting for his mother who is gathering grass for her cows and sheep. In the States, this would be called into child protective services. Here, it’s incredible to see, children no older than 3 or 4 carrying large jugs of water and working. Yes, working hard on the steep terraces and fields and not throwing tantrums.”
“As the days blended, we ran, walked, and crawled every type of trail imaginable. Tall grass, rocks, red choking dust, river, dirt, pine needles…you name it, we ran it. Each day ranged from roughly 20-30 miles with challenging elevation gain. Just when I would think ‘ok, that was the last valley for sure’ BAM, another descent and BAM another steep crawl out. This was life as I knew it until we got a little relief for 2 days on more manageable terrain. Eventually my body began to swell from overexertion to a point that my shoes hardly fit but I didn’t come all the way over here to whine about swollen and blistered feet did I? So I would pop an Aleve, suck it up, and occupy my time by perfecting the ‘run and snap’ picture taking. It’s quite and art once you have it down. Getting a little too cocky, I was in the middle of a ‘run and snap’ photo and ended face first in the blade grasses. It’s grass on steroids in these parts. Turns out I got a photo before I hit the ground. But you get back up and pretend it never happened, smile for the next photo, and keep running.”
“By day 5, we were so dirty, our skin was actually growing over the dirt. But I had the routine going without much thought. Wake up early. Eat as much as I possibly can until I just about throw up. Run. Drink water. Run, run, run. When we arrive to camp, survival routine kicks in. We are brought bowls of warm water for washing. Scrub, scrub, scrub. Eat as much as I can and stop just before puking. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Repeat. Aside from the daily bodily abuse, I found comfort in the human connections that I made without even speaking each other’s language…it is really quite amazing. Talking comes easy to me so it was very refreshing to use other forms of communication to build a bond besides words. Facial expressions, hand gestures, tears, hugging, gift giving…all ways of communicating we sometimes forget. A simple smile and eye contact can go a very long way. I learned how to trust in a way I never knew existed. To trust others. To trust myself. To trust that I can do anything I put my mind to… like saaaaay, run around Kilimanjaro AND summit Kilimanjaro even with Lupus fighting my every step. Sometimes your biggest fear can become your biggest blessing in life.”
You can make a donation is support of Cassandra’s efforts via her JustGiving fundraising page.