Running for Good is a concept which redefines the objectives of running and is the reason and rationale behind my whole career as an elite athlete which spans 3 decades, 4 world records and events ranging from 5km road races to ultra stage desert events. I simply run to create for myself a platform from which to speak out in a positive, proactive and peaceful way for what I believe in and to be afforded a voice to articulate why.
In 2016 the Award winning film director, Keegan Kuhn, translated this into a documentary about my personal running journey as he found the concept of using this most pure and raw of disciplines as an effective voice and vehicle for change both unique and inspiring. It was an idea and ethic he was passionate about sharing in the hope others might see that to challenge yourself for the good of others offers a greater opportunity to find extra depth to an individual's personal potential .
After the film came a book and now the Running for Good Ultra is the obvious progression in our endeavours to facilitate permanent and lasting change for the good of all. It aims to simply liberate people from their pre-existing ideals and ideas and add another dimension to their running. Rather than just being out there for times, trophies and personal health we want them to consider how their running, and indeed day to day lives, impact not only their own individual circumstances and well-being but those of others and their environments too.
Water poverty could, quite literally, become one of the most imminent threats to our global community and that of future generations if the imperative to halt - and ideally reverse - climate change is not addressed immediately. Obviously, the Sahara Desert is the most extreme of environments and one where this issue, among many others, is now being acutely felt but it is, by no means, unique to that geographical location and is spreading, like an unseen enemy, throughout the world with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Mohamad and I live on different Continents and are from totally different backgrounds but we have many common bonds beyond our love of running and concern for our planet and its inhabitants. We share a belief in the empowerment of all people from whatever background, gender, ethnicity or faith to enhance their specialization of knowledge to make change in their own demographic for the benefit of all . We want to show, very graphically, this is a problem which is facing everyone as a global community, rather than just one which is confined to the most extreme locations. These are the places that are facing and feeling this threat first and are at the acute edge of the crisis right now but this will only spread in the months, years and decades to come if we don't make drastic changes immediately. Hence the very visual articulation by the runners who are not only racing each other and the race clock but also combating the added momentum of the ticking of time which is rapidly running out for any change to be effective.
We have chosen to invite only runners who have an immediate and 'vested' interest in this geographical location as we would like to give opportunity on an individual level for those athletes who would otherwise most likely find themselves overshadowed by more familiar commercially sponsored Western based runners.
We hope this will give encouragement and inspiration to others - especially young runners - in their country to see the massive impact and opportunity afforded through the positivity of sport. It also gives them a chance to speak passionately and freely about a subject which is very familiar, pertinent and relevant to them and their family, friends and country folk. It also negates the need to offset carbon emissions in bringing in foreign runners. Local runners, competing through their own country's terrain, highlighting climate and societal issues which impact them directly in the immediate but which will affect us all in the future if not addressed.
So, quite simply,,the Running for Good Ultra is about taking the model of running and using it for the good of others, the environment, the future as well as the individual.
Fiona Oakes - April 2021