Two years ago I stepped out into the unknown to start running 16 kilometres of beach in every country of the world and to talk about sexual violence. Nobody said I was crazy but I’ve been asked many times where I find the courage to give up everything, and put all my finances into creating a dialogue around something that most people don’t want to talk about.
To be honest, I didn’t think about finding courage. I had seen how my own personal story reached rape survivors around the world just because of a single newspaper article. There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be something much bigger. I needed to find a way to reach every human on earth and to become the voice that inspires hope for those in silence. I wanted to find a way of exposing the truth about sexual violence: that there aren’t any stereotypes; that it isn’t just a women’s issue; and it’s something that affects all of us in some way. The more we talk about sexual violence and rape, the closer we come to finding peaceful solutions and ending this global epidemic that affects 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men and more than 630,000 children every day (yes, that’s every day!).
So instead of finding courage, I went into strategy mode and brainstormed ways that I could get people of the world to join me in this peaceful dialogue on sexual violence. Beach running in 230 countries just made much sense! And so began Footsteps To Inspire.
On 18 July 2016, I ran my first beach in South Africa, it was Mandela Day and a beautiful sign from the Universe that I was on track. That first run was much harder than I thought and I realised that I had a tough journey ahead me. Running 16 kilometres of beach is a lot like life: unpredictable, constantly changing and full of rough patches. As I moved on to the next countries, I held a strong vision close to my heart. Come what may, I would remain open and inclusive, I would speak only in peace, and Footsteps To Inspire would become a global movement.
39 countries and 40 beaches later, I can say that this vision is just getting stronger. Three weeks ago something extraordinary happened. People and communities in 28 countries and 42 locations around the world gathered together as part of Footsteps To Inspire’s 1st Global Run. There were no hard or fast rules. Everyone was welcome and could walk or run any distance between 5 and 16 kilometres at any time of the day, wherever it was safe to do so. The only requirement was to share photos and videos using the hashtag #footsteps2018 and #footstepstoinspire. The purpose of the day was to honour survivors and support this global effort to peacefully end sexual violence.
Seeing all of the photos and videos come through on the day and even during the week after this 1st Footsteps To Inspire Global Run made me realise that we had created a movement. It is no longer about just me, the rape survivor who is running beaches around the world. It is about us and how we can use sport to come together and help make our world a safer place.
Footsteps To Inspire has a long way to go. There is a serious need for funding and I still need to reach the remaining 190 countries. I have complete trust in whatever lies ahead and deeply grateful for all of the kindness and generosity people are giving along the way. Biggest thanks to the incredible runners of Johannesburg South Africa and Townsville Australia who joined in on 22 July and helped raise AU$700 for the cause.
Donations are deeply appreciated and you can support Footsteps To Inspire any time of the year via the crowdfunding campaign: just click here!
If you are excited about this global run and want to get involved for the next one, mark your calendars —> Footsteps To Inspire Global Run 2.0 is on Saturday 18 July 2020.
If that seems like a long way off, not to fear, there are plenty of ways to join the Footsteps To Inspire movement and you are more than welcome to run with me when I’m in your country. For regular updates and the run schedule follow me on Facebook and signup for the bi-monthly newsletter.