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The Next Big Race: Sri Lanka

The next big race is quickly approaching for Team Runwell!
Patrick Bowles, Walter Bortman and Runwell Founder Linda Quirk have trained for months. They’ve run for hours, sometimes with full backpacks, sometimes on treadmills. They’ve meticulously packed and unpacked all the supplies they will need for the 6-day 7-stage 4Deserts ultramarathon covering 155 miles of stunning countryside and pristine beaches in Sri Lanka.

Runwell had a wonderful 2015, but the year marked the passing of both Quirk’s parents, just under a year apart. “I was faced with the opportunity this year to question my own mortality and question my purpose, and I really want to use this race to reconnect with the purpose we all do this. It isn’t about how much money we raise but how we grow from the experience. I want to get back to those roots; to how it all started. It was a thrilling, fun environment for me that I thrive in and grow from every single time”

Set to begin on February 14, competitors will traverse a great variety of terrain, scenery and landscapes, weaving through tea plantations, cooling pine forest, vast green hills, waterfalls, local villages, beaches along the Indian Ocean, Buddhist temples past and present and into the Yala National Park, home to elephants, water buffalo, deer, wild boar and sloths.

Bortman, two years sober this past November, says the toughest part of training has been trying to find a work-life-run balance, “Getting prepared for this race has been such a journey, and I feel I’m already a different person as a result. I have had so many challenging things transpire in the last few months while trying to train, and I’ve learned a lot, he says. “This has turned into a process of self-discovery, I expect to continue this process through the race and hopefully well into the future.” 

Quirk, at 63, will be the oldest woman competing, “I've had to work a little harder, but the training is very specific, no more junk miles for me at this point, it's all quality miles. My head is there and my head is always thinking my body is in tune and it's not always the case. I've had to learn more patience and learn to not be so hard on myself.”

For Bortman and Bowles, this will be a first, and Quirk is thrilled to be a part of this experience with them. “One of the things I’m most excited about is to see the transformation, this experience will change their lives and open their world and the possibility of going outside their comfort zone and knowing they can do it.” 

Quirk feels compelled to prove to anyone that they can achieve endeavors they would never expect to even attempt. Walter nor Patrick believed this was possible in the throes of their addiction because of physical and financial constraints. “Don’t let life get in the way of exploration and growth. Anything is possible.”

You can send words of encouragement to individual runners through their daily blog posts or you can visit the Email a Competitor page to send them an email. The 4Deserts website will be updated daily with results, photos, stage updates, breaking news and features, and updates will be posted to Runwell's Facebook and Twitter pages. 

There's still time to donate! Check out Patrick's and Walter's individual fundraising pages to contribute to their journey and help someone suffering from addiction get the help they need. 


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