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Wild Women on the Run: Update

Wild Women on the Run: From the Wild Coast of South Africa to the Great Wall of China and Back | BY : Lisa van Wyk

Wild Women has been life-changing for many women, it has empowered women to challenge themselves and believe that anything is possible. Our invocation is that this legacy of faith and giving, mixed together with fitness, fun and girl power, will only continue to grow over the years, in the hope that many women will be touched and blessed by what Wild Women really stand for. – The organisers: Kim van Kets, Lucille van der Merwe, Lisa van Wyk, Janet Badenhorst

The idea of Wild Women on the Run (WWOTR) took root in the imagination of Kim van Kets and Lucille van der Merwe, whilst sipping coffee in Lucille’s kitchen, discussing Kim’s recent expedition Tri-the Beloved Country. Kim boasted about the beauty and magnificence of South Africa, but mostly of the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, aka the Transkei. The seed was planted and grew very quickly into a herd of 17 ladies, some of whom had never run before and were willing to tackle an epic adventure of 100km along the Wild Coast from Mazeppa Bay to Glen-Garriff over three consecutive days. Organising an event like this requires dedicated volunteers and it did not take too much persuasion to get Lisa van Wyk and Janet Badenhorst in the mix to assist in the organising of design, logistics, apparel, routes, accommodation and transport. At the time, we didn’t fully grasp what this running sisterhood would grow into. It all started as a low key plan to get women into trail-running, or back into running. To debunk the myth that the Wild Coast was an unsafe place to run, to show mates that it really is the most astonishingly beautiful coastline and to guarantee a running experience devoid of whippets in lycra.

None of us fully understood in 2012 the pseudoscience of running, sunlight, rock pools, blisters and champagne. Or the enormity of what was in the process of unfolding. Wild Women has most certainly introduced many women to the joy and freedom of trail-running, but that has really only been the beginning. It has done so much more. Over the last 8 years, we have watched as women have transformed their bodies, minds and spirits. We have been overjoyed to see them begin to love and respect their bodies because of what they can do, rather than how they look, and to grasp that their bodies are machines rather than ornaments. We have seen some of them dig really deep, push through the pain and build the kind of strength and confidence that at times did not seem possible. We have seen them face their fears, jumping off cliffs, swimming sharky rivers and being vulnerable with other women. We have seen them learn to play again, after being responsible for adults and holding things together every day for decades. We have seen them battle and win the fight against depression. We have watched women give and receive love and acceptance and truly celebrate each other’s successes and mourn their failures, some for the first time ever. We have seen women mobilise like an elite army to help one of their sisters who are in trouble. They have all inspired and motivated us on a scale that we could never have imagined.

and being vulnerable with other women. We have seen them learn to play again, after being responsible for adults and holding things together every day for decades. We have seen them battle and win the fight against depression. We have watched women give and receive love and acceptance and truly celebrate each other’s successes and mourn their failures, some for the first time ever. We have seen women mobilise like an elite army to help one of their sisters who are in trouble. They have all inspired and motivated us on a scale that we could never have imagined.

Since 2012 WWOTR, has become an annual event. More than 60 different women have participated in the runs, many of them multiple times. We have cemented our ethos, which is built on 3 pillars: Love your body for what it can do rather than how it looks. Love and support each other and give back to your community. We have raised a great deal of awareness and approximately R700 000, to date, for the two NPO’s we support: African Angels Independent School, located in Chintsa, Eastern Cape and Busfare Babies Birth Centre, Hamburg, Eastern Cape. Both of these organisations are run by women and support their respective communities with little to no support from government and rely completely on the generosity of others.

One of our 2016 Wild Women, Lisa Micklewright, started an off-shoot of WW in Grahamstown, namely The Sole Sisters. Their vision is to turn their running and their energy into an empowering celebration, advancing the self-esteem and the financial security of vulnerable women and children. They are ordinary, brave women, who are inspired by faith, fun, caring and courage.

Lucille van der Merwe moved to Beijing in 2017 with her family, where she met up with a wonderful local hiking guide in 2018. This is when the dream of running along the majestic Great Wall of China began and ultimately inspired the Wild Women on the Wall – China edition. This inaugural event took place in April 2019, two weeks before the Wild Women on the Run – Wild Coast edition. There were over 12 nationalities of women that participated and as a special luxury, the other founders, Kim van Kets, Lisa van Wyk and Janet Badenhorst flew out to China to run the Wall and support Lucille on this awesome quest of taking Wild Women across the globe.

For more information: www.wildwomenontherun.com