Susie Stephen started running at aged 11. She spent two years as a graduate student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff from 2000-2002, running competitively with the Division 1 cross-country and track programmes, but then took a few years off from serious running to travel and work. Also a certified Yoga instructor she is currently competing as part of an amateur women’s running team organised by the clothing company Oiselle, and an athletic ambassador for iTakeBioAstin, nuun and Hemp & Honey + along with looking after her blog and coaching site Longrunergy and jumped at the chance to join the Climb For Nepal Challenge.
What are you aiming for during this challenge?
Personally my goal is to raise funds for the campaign that will help in the supply of food to the people of Nepal affected by the April earthquake. As part of that, the second goal is to climb to the highest peak on the island of Oahu and count the feet scaled towards the goal of #ClimbForNepal – to reach the height of Everest before the month of June is out! To help I’ve recruited some friends who are always up for a challenge.
What is motivating you (and your group) to do this challenge?
A huge motivator is to support people hit by natural disaster. A further motivator is to do a climb that would be a fitting tribute to the departure of running-friends who are moving from Hawaii to Colorado. As a final big climb we decided that a group run/ hike/ climb to the top of Mount Ka’ala (Oahu’s highest peak at 4,025ft), starting from the beach, would be perfect.
Do you have any personal connection with Nepal or a story you would like to share that is driving you during the challenge?
In 2000 just as I was leaving England to begin a two year stint with a D1 college running program in the US, my Dad also undertook a major running challenge and set out for Nepal to run the Everest marathon. We both tracked each other’s progress via the intermittent web access he had back then, but in the process learnt much about new cultures, and what it’s like to travel and run in a different country. When my Dad and I both landed back in the UK for Christmas at the end of that year we shared many stories, and ever since I have hoped to travel to Nepal. One day I’d like to visit and run the trails, but in the mean time I am happy to support a country that was so welcoming to my Dad.
This means a whole lot of time running/walking or trekking and sometimes endless hours of going upwards, what are your tips and tricks for keeping the mind and body going?
There is no doubt about it, climbing is tough but I’ve found that yoga breathing techniques really help to focus the mind and keep the body moving forward. It’s also sometimes a good thing to just stay relaxed, try to take light steps and if you can – use your arms too. I also set visual targets on a trail up ahead of me – and then once I reach them it’s like a mini-milestone along the path to the top. Breaking a climb into smaller sections takes away the mental pressure of one long uphill.
Will you have any special support during the challenge?
On the day of our Sea-to-Summit attempt on Oahu, we will have a support car on-hand, and waiting at the end of the day with a cooler of icy colds drinks – hopefully with some watermelon! Apart from that we will be self-sufficient, using nuun electrolyte drink and probably carrying light snacks such as dried pineapple, granola bars and maybe a few of the small Hawaiian apple bananas.
Anything else you would like to add?
Not right now!
Ed Note – We can update you that on the weekend Susie and a group of friends successfully climbed from the sea to the summit of Mount Ka’ala – a huge effort!!!!
To support the Climb For Nepal campaign through donating or joining go here