SIMI HENDERSON

Can you tell us about yourself? What should we know about you?

I am very lucky to have moved around all my life. As I was so often in new places I spent lots of time outdoors exploring and taking advantage of whatever happened to be on the doorstep - mountains, rivers, snow, lakes, beaches….

Traveling before uni I fell in love with Australia and decided that I would move here one day. In 2006 I did and after being in central London for a few years rediscovered being outdoors and all the opportunities for adventure here. 

A friend convinced me to try a marathon in 2009 and I was hooked! Last year I started running with Run Like Crazy and discovered trail running and ultra endurance
- even more fun!

How did you hear about The Trail Beyond and what do you like about the project?

I heard about the project through Femi, one of the Run Like Crazies who inspired me to get off the road onto trails and amp up the distances.  

Gender based assumptions affect both men and women and projects like this are really important to inspire and empower women and to breakdown stereotypes and provide new female role models.

What does your fitness routine look like?

I tend to train most days and usually have an event in mind. I’m enjoying longer distances at the moment - 100km is next and hopefully a 100 miler next year. My week looks something like this: 80-100km running – a mix of speed sessions, short and long runs; 80km cycling; a strength session or two.

Do you have an inspiring story to share with us?

At the end of last year my friend Jill started running. She doesn’t do anything by halves and decided her goal would be the Red Run - a 250km or 150km six-day stage race across the Simpson Desert to raise money to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. I couldn’t resist the challenge.

From signing up the experience was incredible, everyone got behind us, training with us, helping us fundraise and keeping us smiling. Along the way we met Team Edie who inspired us - as a team they raise awareness and show the world Type 1 does not stop you from achieving anything you want to.

The run was beautiful, over the six days we ran across sand dunes, open gibber plains, clay flats, station tracks and salt lakes.

The first day gave a taste of what was in store and I blew up in the middle of clay flats with the sun beating down. After a few hellish kms I found my happy running place again and finished smiling. By day three I was in my groove with the heat under control and the massive advantage of my feet still in tact! You couldn’t get the smile off my face.  

158km down - we headed out before sunrise for the epic 84km day.  We started in the dark wrapped up in thermals with head torches eerily lighting the way. Watching the changing colours when the sun rose over the desert I realised for the hundredth time that there was nowhere I would rather be. Then it started to get hot - one foot in front of the other. At 50km I saw Jill who had just finished the final marathon of the Little Red Run, smashing her time and placing 2nd female, high fives and hugs and
I was reenergised!

At 64km my partner surprised me cheering me into the aid station, more hugs and high fives and I headed off over the last of the ankle rolling gibber plains smiling. Then it was hot again and mentally tough. Finally I came over the last sand dune and could see the red tents in camp, just a speck in the distance. As they got bigger I realised I was really going to do this.

Crossing the finish line was such a high, an incredible feeling of achievement. I signed up for the run as a personal challenge but it became about so much more, as a group we raised a quarter of a million for Type 1 diabetes research, I made friends that will last a lifetime, saw one of the most beautiful places in Australia and rediscovered the freedom that running gives you.

Who or what do you turn to for inspiration?

I am inspired by all my friends and family, but it was my friend Jess who showed me that very little is impossible and life is so much more fun when you take everything you can out of each moment.

Heartbreakingly she couldn’t keep achieving the impossible for herself and passed two years ago after living with blood cancer from childhood. She wasn’t a runner, but she was a traveller and photographer and I often feel like she is with me at events when I’m watching a spectacular sunset, running along a beautiful coastline or around some amazing city. 

What challenges did you overcome to accomplish what you did?

Food. What to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat! So much trial and error but I got there eventually.

Injury. I’ve had quite the collection of injuries this year including a sprained rib, suspected cartilage tear and a weird niggle in my foot which means sometimes I can’t put weight on it.  I’m also pretty clumsy off the flat surface of the road and now have permanent scars on my knees, hips, elbows and hands!  

What advice would you give other women and girls to get out there and achieve more than they thought possible?

Get out and try, you really have no idea what is possible until you do.

If it’s running, just run. Start with 1km on the treadmill or around the block, and keep adding to it. If you have to walk try to walk less the next time. Don’t set time goals to start with, just let your body work it out. There’s plenty of time to hammer yourself chasing PBs later on!

What do you get up to on a Sunday?

Depending on what I’m training for I’ll either back up my Saturday long run or try and get out for a cycle. We usually have friends over for dinner on Sunday so we’ll head to the markets to get food and spend the afternoon cooking up a storm.  

Do you have an inspirational quote to share?

“Life is short, do something crazy!”

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