At a company event in September, my colleagues dressed me up as the Statue of Liberty as part of a teamwork game we played. I took it as an opportunity to be lazy and not move, as befitting a statue–but little did it cross my mind that just a few months later I would be excitedly plotting my way to the iconic city where the famed statue resides –the land of freedom, liberty, challenges, and possibilities!
It all began with a simple subscribed email newsletter from Amnesty International Australia–Team AI were going to run the TCS New York City Marathon 2015 and they were recruiting ten runners to be part of the team. To qualify for the race, each runner had to raise funds for Amnesty International Australia and the targeted amount must be reached one month before the race day. The furthest I had ever run in my entire life was a mere 15 kilometers, and that was only one time–but hey, this was a chance to contribute to a humanitarian cause (something close to my heart) AND join runners from all over the world to break personal boundaries at, of all places, New York City! Suddenly I had a bucket list. As I got ready for work that morning, I managed to send an email to the organizing company via my phone while applying wax to my hair. I had to find out, first of all, if I would be eligible to join the team since I was not an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Meanwhile I had already downloaded the information pack, and my excitement started to grow even before I knew if I was eligible for sure. And by the evening, I had already found a running group I could train with regularly.
A day later, I heard from the organizer: “We would be excited to have you onboard even if you are not an Australian citizen!” So I wasted no time and submitted my registration form, and went to the bank the following Monday to make a direct deposit of my registration fee. The girl from the organizing event company had even arranged for a phone call with me to discuss details. I was going to run the New York City Marathon and raise funds for Amnesty International Australia! Who cares if I was not Australian, human rights issues transcend all boundaries!
But alas, it turned out that my road to NYC was about to present its first hurdle. The next day, at 11 am Malaysian time sharp, my phone rang, showing an Australian number on the screen. “You’re right on the dot!” I exclaimed happily. But the voice on the other end did not match my enthusiasm. Jade sounded as warm over the phone as she did in written communication, but her tone was very apologetic as she began…”Oh Alexis, I’ve got some terrible news!”
She had found out that only Australian citizens were eligible to join the team because apparently the marathon organizer allocates a certain number of places for runners based on the countries they come from. She apologized profusely and offered to help me find alternative ways to get into the marathon and also combine the charitable side of the endeavour. I was naturally disappointed but it also meant that I simply had to do a bit more research to find other options. If one door had closed, another one might just open.
I could just arrange my own trip to New York if sight seeing was all I wanted to do, or even just purchase a marathon travel package from an adventure/sports tour company that is registered as a NYC Marathon international travel partner. But I would not let go of the part where I could make a contribution and a difference. (And also maybe to be more honest and less altruistic, it was also the challenge of fundraising that had really piqued my interest — rallying friends, family and colleagues, or maybe even strangers to support the cause and my bid to run a marathon would certainly be stepping out of my introverted comfort zone.)
Thankfully all it took was a bit more research on the TCS New York Marathon official website, and two email messages later I found myself registered with Team for Kids, a group of runners from all over the world that raises funds for New York Road Runners to help underprivileged children in the US and Africa lead healthier lives.
So it is finally official–I am going to run the TCS NYC Marathon 2015 and fulfil my pledge to raise USD 2,620 for Team for Kids by October next year, one month before the race day.
That would certainly be the culmination–but till then, my road to New York City will be paved with disciplined running practices and fearless fund raising efforts–no doubt one of the most exciting adventures I will ever embark on, considering the last time I ran on tar road was when I was in high school and the sports teacher made us run a 3-km route around the school.
But this was not the first time I threw myself into the deep end without knowing if I could swim, and also not the first time I bit off a big chunk without being sure if it would be more than I could chew. So let’s see how the whole adventure pans out!
I will be updating this space as I have decided a create a running diary of sorts to chronicle my journey. These are the steps I have taken so far:
1. Update my iPod with new running songs
2. Run 3 kilometers on the treadmill two days ago
3. Inform my boss about my adventure so he would not be taken by surprise when I start rallying my colleagues (and him!) to donate
4. Get acquainted with my online fundraising page
5. Make a donation of USD 10 myself towards the cause, which leaves me with USD 2610 more to go.
If you would like to learn more and donate to the cause, check out my secure online fundraising page here!