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Superhero Foundation Blog

I’m excited to be supporting Jamie McDonald (AKA Adventureman), along with 3 of my colleagues, in his epic journey across the US. He is truly an inspirational human being! He has overcome debilitating childhood illnesses and is now pushing his body to extreme limits, dedicating his life to helping sick children and their families to get the best possible care.

My own motivation for running comes from my family. We lived in Sudan until I was 6 years old and our lives changed when my sister Sahar, who was 1 at the time, suffered from cerebral malaria. It is the most severe neurological complication you can have after contracting malaria. It was a miracle that she survived. We came back to the UK to get the best medical treatment for her. Now 25, she is living with autism, cerebral palsy and scoliosis and it’s thanks to the NHS and dedicated care workers that she has a good life. My youngest sister Hanadi was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005. She went from being a healthy active 5 year old, full of energy, to wheelchair bound. She was in and out of Gloucester Hospital where Jamie was treated as a child, until she passed away on 22 June 2006. I run in her memory, and I run for my sister Sahar who is not able to use her legs.

Running has given me confidence and immense gratitude for all that my body does for me. Our bodies are truly amazing, but most of us lose connection. We get bogged down in our minds and sedentary lifestyles, forgetting to take care of them from the inside – out. Running has become a natural way for me to switch off and focus inward, whilst still being aware of my surroundings. I’ve grown to enjoy it as a mediation, without the distraction of music blasting through headphones. Amongst the sights and sounds of the busy inner city, I listen out for the bird song as my soundtrack.

I accomplished my first half marathon back in 2010 in the US, whilst working at a summer camp in Massachusetts. That time was an enlightening experience for me, and travelling alone for 4 months helped me become less introverted. My husband and I also got married in Nevada in the Valley of Fire National Park, just outside Las Vegas in September 2015. We have run 3 half marathons together and he has been lucky enough to get into the London marathon. So when the opportunity to run a marathon with Jamie in the US came along, I took it!

My training for the marathon is going well so far. I’ve completed the 18 mile milestone, and am looking forward to getting 22 miles done, ready to hunker down and rest in the week leading up to it. My mind and body have been kind to me and I have not experienced any physical barriers or pain. I think this is down to lots of yoga, a plant based diet and plenty of massage! The training has coincided with a fantastic holistic massage course I’m currently on. It has been ideal developing a deeper understanding of the human body and how to stay healthy and strong whilst running.

– Saffa Freebrey, Web Content Executive at Unite Students