Running Across Africa - Ultra-Adventurer Véronique Chats About Long Distance Running Trips
Here at RaceMob - we’ll occasionally hear about incredible feats. Sometimes - they just seem too incredible to be real. Like in episode 17, when we talked to the world record setting ironman athlete will turner.
Well this story is just as incredible - and it comes from someone with so much heart and passion. Vero had no idea what the impact that a $50 treadmill was going to have on her life. When she first stepped on that simple machine, and took her first admittedly awkward steps - she had no clue that 13 years later - she’d have completed some of the most grueling ultra distance races in the world. And in the midst of planning a 13,000 km trek across the continent of Africa to help raise money and awareness for access to clean water.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- Why a marathon didn’t seem quite enough for this ambitious athlete
- Her initial struggles and her mindset to finally break through
- How she ran across Japan with her daughter biking at her side
- Why this African trek means so much to her
Links references in this Show
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
And I was in this state of, I was not in the same world because I said, is it me? Did I really do that? Wow.
If I can be that strong, I would just give it a go to know how strong I can be. And even though if I knew I was running and I didn't care if the time, because it's not really, like, it doesn't matter. And like, I don't care.
But the only thing I was is I always say that to my clients. You, you stronger of what you think you are, and it's just a matter of doing it. But when you, you feel it yourself, it's something else.
Kevin Chang [00:00:36]
Hello and welcome to the race. My podcast. This is episode number 28.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and the founder of race mob. I'm joined by master motivator, founder of two legit fitness co-chair of the Tazi 100 R R C a certified coach USA track and field certified official the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
Here at Reece mob. We'll occasionally get some incredible stories. Like in episode 17, when we talked to world record setting, Ironman athlete will Turner. Well, this story is just as incredible. And it came from somebody with so much heart and passion.
Pharaoh had no idea when she bought this $50 treadmill, the impact that it was going to have on her life. When she first stepped on that very simple machine and took those well, admittedly awkward first steps. She didn't have a clue that 13 years later she'd have completed some of the most grueling ultra races in the world.
And be in the midst of planning, a 13,000 kilometer Trek across the continent of Africa to help raise money and awareness for access to clean water.
In this episode, you'll learn why a marathon didn't seem quite enough for this ambitious athlete. How she initially struggled and the mindset required for her to break through. How she ran across Japan with her daughter biking along the side.
And why this African Trek means so much to her. If you'd like to support Vero on this incredible journey, receive coaching from her, or you just want to follow her on social media. Then you can find all of the shownotes online at race mob.com/podcast. This episode is brought to you by erase mob and inclusive community for endurance athletes. If you like our podcast, you'll love our YouTube channel, where we keep you up to date with news for the running world and give you tips that will help you improve door running. Check us out by searching race mob on YouTube and subscribe today.
And without further ado, here's our incredible conversation.
We are so excited to welcome Vero to the race mile podcast. Welcome Pharaoh to the podcast.
Thank you so much, Karen. And thank you so much, coach B to have with me today. It's so fantastic for me to have the opportunity to be with you and to all your audience. It means the world for me. So thank you very much.
Kevin Chang [00:02:56]
Fantastic. you came onto our radar because of a monumental journey that you're about to undertake next year, and we will get to that in just a second, but let's first talk about how you got into running in general. And I know people can probably tell from your accent, French Canadian.
now living in Singapore. So, I mean, tell us how, how you got into running in general.
Thanks Kevin, for your question. It's so funny because sometimes people think that I born with running shoes with the reading that I did, but in fact, it's not true.
Thirteen Years ago now. I didn't know, even what's running was, and I wasn't net it's a bit low in my, in my life.
And my husband got the opportunity to have a treadmill for 50 Canadian dollars because almost nothing. And I said to my let's bring the, the treadmill home. And he said, no, if I were too little without having any place to get this threadmill in, in any way, you don't know running what the hell you will do with the treadmill.
So I argued with him, and I win the battle of the treadmill. So I get the treadmill on, but the reality is I never ran in my life. So I couldn't like, I was like, okay, what do you do with this treadmill? So at that time, I used to ask my best friend, Google, what do you do? You start running? So I pop up in this.
Run the walk strategy. So I started running for one minute. And after that, I just increased two minutes until I was breaching 45 minutes. It was my goal. And at that time I had no proper running shoes. I hadn't nothing like really nothing to running. And I was looking people outside telling us I cannot even run outside because they are too professional.
They are too fancy wear the t-shirt. I couldn't even picture myself going out. And then run with them. But I said, that's for 45 minutes, I get my first pair of shoes. So I went to the running boutique. I said, okay, let's have my first pair of shoes because my goal was done. And I asked the guy the salesman, can I have my running shoes?
So I got my running shoes and I said, what can we do in terms of goal and running? And he said, you can do some race, but I had no clue what a race was all about. So he showed me a book on out to run a marathon from beginner to expert. So to run a marathon that's looks good. And I remember the phrase of the salesmen.
Look at me with big eyes and said, you know, every day a professional runner cannot do that. Even like you have to be really, really experienced to run a marathon. You have to really consider it and do really carefully. And I said to the guy it's written from beginner to expert, so I will follow the beginner plan and I should be fine. You see
everything to discourage me to buy this book, but as I am, I buy the book, I buy, pair of running shoes. The next day I was doing the training and it was one of the most difficult trainings that I had in my life. I didn't know what was wake up at five and my kid was little, so I, and I was working so all organized the training around all that.
And I didn't know what was ill training all about, but I learned from Helen from the book and what happened. Six months after I did my first marathon.
Kevin Chang [00:06:08]
Six months. Wow. Just like that incredible
Bertrand Newson: [00:06:12]
Vero, where was your first marathon?
Quebec city marathon. Because I'm from Quebec and it was funny because it was really, really, really odd at that time.
And I think I was one of the last runner to finish the elective all was like wrap up the marathon and for me. In fact, I really didn't care. I was so, so excited to finish that I was in the estate of gratefulness and likeliness. And even now I tell you the story and I have, I came my emotional because it's like it was yesterday.
It was one of my most beautiful running experience.
Bertrand Newson: [00:06:46]
And look what's happened since that day. It's catapulted you. Running all across the globe and doing so many wonderful things that we'll get more into as well. So congratulations on that first marathon and having the courage one to get some running shoes very important right now, especially during the holidays for people who want to go and buy some shoes, they're there.
We have some great referral links, et cetera, et cetera. This is about you. Um, and the importance of committing, deciding, challenging yourself, believing in yourself when even that sales person at the running of boutique, you know, maybe somewhat kind of discouraged you maybe didn't feel that you were ready at that time, but you knew something within yourself.
You wanted that challenge. You accepted that challenge with all of the busy-ness of life as well, family working and having to get up earlier and altering your schedule because you probably projected, you know, what, if I followed the plan. Which you had that ultimately you would cross the finish line and you did so again, congratulations.
Thank you. You coach for this, this point. And I think it's totally right, because I didn't really think about that. But when you think backwards, that is exactly what I did to step up on myself. I work on my mindset. Because it was not always easy. Sometimes I didn't want to go out and in Canada, sometimes the weather is not that good.
So I go out and day in, day out, even though it had had some crisis with the kids, my goal was so crystal clear, even though no one would think it's realistic. I just go for it and this kind of mindset. I think it's follow me from all my life since then. So I never think about that, but thanks for the comment.
Kevin Chang [00:08:21]
Talk to us about where running, took you next, you know, after that marathon, what ended up happening? Where'd you go with it?
Thank you for the question. And. I cannot stop laughing because when I look back on my background, I feel that like totally random, because like she pulled, like, they they're really good runners.
They have like their, their plan. Uh, the argument is like, okay, let's do this. I will crush this, but I never been, I never been like this ever. So what happened? After Quebec. I said, okay, let's do another one because it was so difficult. I didn't know if I can do it a second one, but the only way to know if you can do a second one is doing it.
So three months after I was doing my second marathon in Maine in the second one, don't ask me why I cut my time of almost 45 minutes. Wow.
from a time of five something. My second marathon was for maybe 20 something like this. On the second marathon, I was totally hooked and I had like a fantastic weekend made with the family.
For me, running was never about competition. It was just about gratefulness and be really, really like in the States of almost hi. That's I can do all those things because I never even imagined that I can do that because like, when I was really young, I was kind of a bullied and overweight. So it's not something that I would have been thinking to, to be good at.
Kevin Chang [00:09:52]
You were a little bit overweight maybe before you started running. So did you end up losing a lot of weight, um, through that first run? Or how has your health before and afterwards?
I like when I said that I was overweight, it's more like when I was really a kid, like when I was a kid, my nickname was blue whales.
So it was kind of a big four. So it's where it's at. And when you get bullied at some point it's become yourself. You don't see a difference between the words that you listen to from the other people and what you think you are become you. So I always see myself like, like big in a certain way. So I carry on.
My life. Good. But it's how is back in back of my mind? So I never even think that I would have been able to do all those fantastic things that I'm doing since then. So it's just, uh, doing what I feel was right.
Kevin Chang [00:10:41]
So you go from that second marathon and we know that you're now globetrotting, right? Now you live in Singapore. I know in between Singapore, you were also in Africa at one point you were in the middle East at one point, I think. So. Tell us, where did the journey take you?
I did, uh, around 20 marathon after my second, my second month.
Kevin Chang [00:11:03]
got bit by the bug, huh? Wow.
And so what I, I said that's like totally random.
It's exactly. Ah, Yeah, I'm a big fan of Disney. So I heard about the Disney world marathon and I, we were in Canada at the time and say, let's just do this. It's a middle of winter. And they would be having a great vacation there. So I registered for the Disney marathon just for fun to go with the film. So I trained for that and it was just awesome experience.
Uh, we just love that. And after that I did other marathon with friends. It's just like an opportunity to the marathon. I go, I was not even like a concerned about anything else. I put the training in because I think it's really important, but I never do like a big thing as hell. No, you don't have to do this.
I just do stuff that I love. It was just this. And my goal was. To have this famous Boston marathon qualification. But the thing is, I was a bit too slow. Like my fastest time was four hours, but I was younger, so I couldn't make my qualifications. So I said ok, the marathon becoming a bit too much competitive and the mindset and the people.
And I don't, I don't feel that I like this competitive thing. I said, okay, I cannot do faster. So what else can I do? The only option that I stopped is going longer. So just before we move in the UAE, I decided to do a 50 miles in Canada. So I did that. And I remember the first time I it's 50 K for me, it was like the end of the world, because I couldn't even imagine that you can go further than 32 K.
Well, I came back home. I remember I said to the Tony, I did 50k! Then when I finished my 50 miles, uh, the day before, of course I didn't really sleep. And I was really, really, really stressed. And I said to the people of the organization, Oh, I'm so stressed out. I'm not sure if I can do it and all those kinds of stress.
And then the day of the race. Oh, the organization came and run with me to make sure that I was okay. And it was such a fabulous experience. And again, I was probably one of the last one to finish, but I didn't care. I was so emotional. Like my eyes full of tears. And if I knew it, I would, I love the, the traditions.
So it was my first big tremor. Does your
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:24]
family run as well?
Yes and no. My kids are pretty much in running and my husband is it's sometimes they are supposed to, I think I'm. The only one to be really like, kind of in running,
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:39]
but you have fantastic
support. Yes. And my kids really helped me a lot for making this a Africa project altogether.
So I'm really, really happy about that.
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:49]
So, 50 K Mark 50 miler.
Yes. Is Kevin asked
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:54]
a bit about weight loss in the past. What about diet? How has your diet changed if you're, you know, you're running more longer, what are you doing for fuel to sustain all the energy needs?
I was kind of an okay size and then okay.
Health when I start turning. So like, my overweight was more when I was young, so I stabilize it with time. When I started running, I didn't really pay attention on like that. I need to do something different on my diet. It's very more come with time now. It's totally a different story. If you ask me what I, what I eat, I know what it's preferable to eat.
I try to be more low carb, high fat. And not eating too much carbs cutting on my, my sugar. So it's what I'm trying to do now. But at that time I was just learning. So it was like trial and error. So now I'm more about eating more vegetables and less carbs.
Kevin Chang [00:14:49]
We know that you are planning a journey of running across Africa in the summer of next year.
When did you know that you could run these ultra ultra long distance events? How did you figure that out? How did this all come about?
It's funny because when, uh, after my 50 miles, we straight that moved to the UAE and we lived there for six years and it's where I did my first, one of the miles. And my first one that drove miles.
In fact, I ate it. It wasn't one of the worst experience ever at the, the second part of the race. I was dreaming of a wheelchair know
it was okay. I enjoy it. I wasn't the UK with friends and I, it was so nice, but the second part, I. It's a wall. And so it's really, really, really difficult. And at the end I finished it. I was really happy to finish it, but the experience I hated it. And as far as after the race, I had no like success, no feeling great, but I, I did a wonder to myself.
You see? Yeah, I should have been happy, but I wasn't. And I said, occasion, should I quit running? I was almost on the door to quit running, but I said that would be a shame because you don't know, um, many, I worry about running of training. I think, I think the training is also part of the journey then the race itself.
So I said that would be kind of sad to waste all the training that I've done. So to make sure that I will love, like if I stopped running, I will make sure that I try another race just to make sure if it's my choice. So I, I choose three months after the Berlin great wall, uh, 100 miles. And I like to do something with meaning.
So for me, it was the perfect race. It was meaningful. Every race you ran for the miraDry of someone. So it was really impersonal and it was in Germany. So I knew that it would be really well organized. I cannot get lost because I get lost everywhere. So second thing. It was flat. So I said, okay, let's do it.
So that was my second one, run miles. And even the day before I did what you shouldn't do on the race, you know, I'm not, I don't remember the big, big building with the intro of stuff in Berlin. You know what I mean? So I climb this building. Yeah.
It was walking all around the city, but I was so happy because I said it's I'm in Berlin. I never been, I was just happy. Just like great. I was so happy so that they have served for the race. I didn't even like, I didn't slept really well. Everything was hard but I felt really, really good. So when I started to the race, I was like, wow, I'm in Berlin.
I do this race out of the Kia. So I was just running happy and enjoying the scenery, uh, feeling like in a state of, I would descend the city and I was just good. So I keep running. And at the end of the race, when I, when I finish everything was doing fine, it was middle of the night. And when the feeling of finishing was so good, I couldn't even imagine that I was so, so strong.
And when I learning I was going strong and I couldn't believe myself. So when I finished the guy at the finish line said your third female overall. Wow. That was my reaction. My reaction was to laugh. Incredible. So I laugh and I argue, as I said, it's not true.
I laugh. I argue. And as a German, well organized, he came back with a piece of paper with my name, my bib, and the place on the race. So he said with the paper, I knew that I was searched the minutes overall. And I just cry. I cry all the tears that I could possibly have because I couldn't believe it. And you have a goal that you don't even target. It's just happening. This feeling is special.
Kevin Chang [00:18:57]
That's incredible. Can you talk through a little bit, I guess that first a hundred miler, what do you think was it that you hated for you in pain? Was your body shutting down? Do you think it was all mental? Can you pinpoint it all these years later? What was it about that first race that, you know, almost means you quit ultra running altogether?
And I, I think it's what you said. It's, it's held about that. Yes, because I get lost. And when you get lost, you, you, you lose a little bit of like big, find your momentum. And you, you, you start to be stressed. The first part of the race was really, really great. I was a new case was really green and it was really great.
But the second part, my buddy was really, really difficult to end though, because it's, I think to get difficult for my side. And when you get physically difficult, we are connected. So my mind was really, really negative. And I was like, uh, on the victim part of the, the road, not the empowerment, but luckily I never think about quitting because it's not on my DNA.
I would have like killing this race. Um, but I was on the merge. You get it. I was really not comfortable of my, uh, of my league.
Kevin Chang [00:20:09]
Now you've been to Berlin hundred miler. Finished third overall. So now it's clear that, okay. There's, you know, some of the training, some of the systems as you put in is working, you know, you can complete this distance. So walk us through more of the journey we want to hear. Where did it go from there?
The other story is it's funny because I met. I really a nice German guy during Berlin. And I was just chatting and said, I want to try a longer distance if I can. So I said, okay, I have to.
Kevin Chang [00:20:40]
Bertrand Newson: [00:20:41]
I'm still thinking with your, your husband buying the
Bertrand Newson: [00:20:47]
treadmill, not knowing how to work the treadmill, then getting, you're getting up to 45 minutes going to the running botique.
Getting the book, the person didn't want to sell you the book, you know, six months later running your very first marathon and we're talking about a hundred miles and Oh, what's next. Wow. Wow. All right. Share away.
Thank you, coach. We appreciate this. But in fact it's all happened randomly. I never even think about how you, uh, your point of view, because for me, I'm just doing stuff you see and see let's just doing it.
So I was asking the guy because he was really experienced. There's a lot of race. And I said, I want to try a longer. And I said, okay, I did a fantastic race in Japan called a cycle. I mean, sheet, and you should do it, but it's just on the invitation-only. Tomorrow during the race around here, we give you his number and the guy come back on the day after really to get me the name of the race director in Japan.
And he told me the race is really cheap. You sleep there within the house of the race director. It's really awesome. You met other people. And I said, There was some, and I love Japan. I'm a big fan of the Japanese culture and people. I love that I'm in, but the fact is, you know what? The worst thing, I didn't know the cutoff, I didn't know.
I didn't know nothing. And I register and I get my place. So everything was fine and I was just training easy. The race was in April, so I know in February, but everything was booked, like my tickets and all that I know in February that the cost of West 36 hours that you have at big mountain in the middle of the night.
And I remember saying I cannot do that. I, I can't, I just can't it's too much because it's the equivalent of . So it's the same, same, all the same as parts at home, but different cutoff. And I said, I cannot do that. I just did like two, one. I did. I think at that point I did three, 100 miles. That's it? I'm like the kindergarten of the trauma.
It's just impossible that I succeed this. I was like this to just not go when I look back, if I didn't buy my flight tickets, I think I would have not gone.
Kevin Chang [00:23:04]
And what was the distance? So you said 36 hours cut off 250, 250 miles. Oh, 250 K. Wow. Wow.
Wow. Wow. At the end I finished 10 female overall
Kevin Chang [00:23:21]
with a mountain in the middle? Is that what you said?
And all that because, um, like I said, uh, we met some people all around the world. Come. The other runner and the supporter of other owner, I've been by myself. I had no support, um, myself, but the other runner was with their family. And now that's a week creates really a outspending finding, even with people that I didn't know, five days before.
And what happened is because of this climb, like the spirit that we have altogether during the race, the support of other runners that he could have been even in the front, because they were faster than I, you see, because I had no clue if I could finish this thing, like had no clue. I remember at that time I had like, um, Online training plan and the plan that he was giving me, uh, I was okay.
I do that. And to really, to French guy, really like almost elite guy told me, well, if you do that, do you know what? You will not finish this? So the day before the race, they took maybe two hours at least to explain, okay, at this point you do this, that they take the race and they give me. A straight plan and you say, well, you have everything.
You need to do this race. You have to go ta ta ta, believe in you, you have everything go and finish it. So I had first this plan and during the race, all the family of the other runners was waiting for me in every aid station when they could have been waiting for their people. Wasn't faster than I.
Because again, I was one of the slowest in that race. So in every eighth station there was waiting for me. And at some point I said, Oh, I'll be timing. And they were just telling me, just keep going. You're good. You're good. And they get any big arguing, every aid station and the, the major points, the matrix all made me finish it.
I had just one more marathon to do before we finished. And Ellen and her mom, uh, there are two posts from Estonia, an Estonian runner. And just before it was so funny, like I finished, but 32 K to go on 250 K it's a lot. It's like massive. You like kind of fed. Okay. So they were in the bus, they were seeing me and I was like, this.
And I, I was not doing good. Like, I was really dead and Ellen saw me in the bus. I don't know what she, she, she managed, but she managed to make the stop stopping. Uh, so she came to me and she said, well, you are doing. So great. You're so amazing. And she could have said Vero, you look like...
because it's once a reality. So she said, Vero, you look amazing. You did so well, you have to keep going. And do you know what running it's easier than walking, even if you run. And she was like, show me the, to run and. She did herself Spartathlon so she know exactly what I felt at this moment. So she showed me to do this and you have everything you do, and don't walk you, you, if you work, it's not good.
It's more painful. And I remember saying to Ellen, I promise you I will not walk. And from this time I remember I was crying. I was literally crying and said, what I do this it's too much. But at that point, everything stopped. And I was just focusing. I promised Ellen that I will not walk. I promised Ellen that I will not walk.
That was my mantra. And I remember I walk at some point because it's really, but I said, I promised the land that I did not worry. I would just walk this because I cannot, but I, and after that I was just doing this and I finish one hour before the concert.
Bertrand Newson: [00:27:10]
Wow. Wow. That's great. You know, Vera, the coach in me wants to rewind just a bit.
You had the training plan. And then you had the, I think you said the, the French men say that, you know what, that's not going to work for you. What was the difference between what you were, you had as a plan and what were the most useful changes they made that you felt helped you doing your 250 K journey?
I it's a good question. Thanks for the question. If I look back the main difference. Is because plan itself. Of course, they tell me to be faster of what I can do you see? Like, obviously, because the plan say the cake do it at six 30, but in reality you cannot do sprites that long or secular mushy at six 30, you just can't, it's not possible.
So the plan was six 30, but I think the major thing who made me succeed in, because I did it twice, it's the spirit of the races. Because when you realize that those two people are okay, more accomplished or
Bertrand Newson: [00:28:14]
seasoned. Yeah. Yeah. Even like Warren was Elliot when he was younger. So I give them a lot of credibility that my coach was good.
I don't, I don't want to say anything bad, but they was like on top of the league. So that was one. And I think the major thing is when you know that someone thinks you can, they were believing me. More than what I think I believing in myself. So I was thinking, wow, those two guys who are for me, the top of the mountain of believe I can, I was just catching the sparkle in their eyes and the energy, because it's held about the energy and it's held about interconnected with people.
And it's why I did this race so good because. It was just full of love and energy and high energy intensity, but all on the positive side. So to answer your question, I think it's a mix. It's not about pace to be quite honest, because when you discuss about the race strategy, yes. You discuss about pace, but it was not the main thing.
And on the day of the morning of the race, I remember. Uh, we were not on the same wave and they come to me and they give me like the big, big org and they take time to look at me in the eyes. And he said, Vail, you got this finish. Don't let the race got you do and get it. And at some point we overtake because of the way and said Vero go and just knowing they were there and everything, I felt like a lot because it's a really difficult phrase.
So you have to be on top of your mental, if you're not on top of your mental, this kind of racing. You're done. So when I was just a little bit down, I was thinking too,
Bertrand Newson: [00:29:57]
great to share the power of the human spirit and someone believing in you. It's one thing to get yourself into the race.
To the starting line, but naturally we have that anxiety and self doubt, but for somebody else to look you in the eye or to give you a Pat on the back and say, you got this, it just does something to you. It, it awakens you in a different way. And as you set your friend, when you promised her that you wouldn't walk and th the mantra.
That you used as well. You know, I've got to keep moving forward. I got to keep my, I don't want to walk and certainly, you know, there's some Hills in there, but, um, those little things in breaking the race down into smaller digestible segments and not looking at how much has left, but just focusing on where you're at much like we do in life at times.
Sometimes we think of everything when we just need to calm down. And focus and see what's right in front of us and work through those different scenarios. So really good.
And in fact, I'm not a elite runner. So for me, it was my first big, big, competitive race that I was doing. So I suppose really, really scared at some point.
And knowing that all those people were for me the top of the month. And I believe in me, It was something, something special. And I know without a doubt that's, without all those people, I'm not sure if I would have doing it. Like I know I will probably won't. So I, I offer those people a lot of love, a lot of my, of where I am now.
###### Kevin Chang [00:31:21]
Are you enjoying the show, help us out by sharing the podcast. You can win some cool prizes like headbands, wristbands, training programs, shadows. And more, especially if you're part of an existing running group online community, or have friends that you think will enjoy the show, get your personal referral [email protected]/referral,
Bertrand Newson: [00:31:41]
That's what, what makes the running community so special. That's what's continued to inspire you and propel you to some of the incredibly cool and wonderful things you're doing for others and really paying it forward so we can get more into that.
So after this 250 K I have Japan in back of my mind, I wanted to run across the country, but I was too shy. I had too much block inside of me to really make it happen. And what exactly happened is. I was in the UAE at that time. And I was working in a job that's I didn't like at all.
And I was stuck in this, in this nine to five job. I had to wake up at like three 34 to just put my training in. And I had to put my kids at school back and we, as a value we never had made or something. We want to make our own life and our value. So, uh, I came back, I had to make the dinner and all that.
So I wasn't like kind of crazy life when you don't have to. And it's too to think about what's coming next. And just before the one of the mines in Berlin. Uh, that's the story that I had to go to have a medical check. And during this medical check, they see that I had like a little heart murmur in my, in my heart.
So it was really, really like, it's not about how big it is, but I think it's one of the best events that happened to me because. I said to myself, is it really the life that I want get stuck in the job I ate in the country that I found really, um, superficial in some way, uh, to just do a life on autopilot when I never come in myself to do that, you get it.
So I saw that I was there and I said, okay, what's next? I said, even though if no one thinks that I can do this, Uh, run across the country, know what I will do it in the worst case scenario, I would come back and I will enjoy it. My, my journey anyway. So after having this medical appointment was a big, big, big wake up call because life is going so fast that if you just go without, even take time to reflect.
And I did that in two minutes, I do have lots, like it was clear crystal clear like this, even remember the secondary one that was. And I said, I have to do a change. And I remember really well, my big role model is Terry Fox. So I said, if Terry Fox is able to do it with one leg, I have my two legs. I want to come back in one piece, but I will do it.
And it's exactly what I did everyone at that point, because I'm smiley funny. I don't take a lot of, uh, competitive stuff. I don't talk a lot about like, what is your pace, blah, blah, blah. I'm just me. Okay. So people around me didn't really believe that I can do that because it was, my commitment was three months, 3000K.
I didn't know what I will, I will cope with that. And self-supported all, uh, we, we, I have my 10 have everything and last minute my daughter wanted to join me. So my daughter was with me with her bike. She just turned 18. So we literally slept everywhere. Life was for us. You get it. I went into the most beautiful place and I truly believe that we are all interconnected, but it's with all the settings, with how our interactions with the people every day, people stop us to ask us because we had like the big Canadian flag at the, we have like the, the bicycle, the baby stroller and the big Canadian flag and said, well, Two crazy girl.
We said, we just want to do that and to explore and to see if I, if I can do that. So, and people invite us in their house. I cannot even count how many places we went. And even though if I don't speak a word of Japanese, we have this fantastic app called Google translate. So we discussed with them with this. It was just fantastic.
And at some point I almost lost my daughter. It was, yes, it was serious. And I was like really, really, really panicking because we were on a mountain and I slept, lots of car. I said to my daughter go first and at the traffic light, just wait for me. And I was running the traffic light.
No Cadomin and I continued running the second traffic light. My daughter was not there. And I started to be really, really, really panicking. And the thing that you have to understand is all the phone and everything. They know where it was. Yes. With my daughter.
Bertrand Newson: [00:36:07]
Wow. So I had absolutely nothing just like me and my little bag of waters.
And I said, what can I do? And all my son said, She, she had an accident she's kidnapped and she wouldn't be with them with the Japanese mafia somewhere, something. And I came back from, where am I from? And I did that a lot and I, I didn't see her. And at some point someone call my name "Veronique san, Veronique san" and I said, wow, if she know my name, it's probably that she has my daughter.
And when I see that, when you, you, you have like stress and you, you just relief. I felt like all my buddy become jello. You get it. So I come in the car with this lady. And we went to and I was like in the mood between, I give her a big, big hug, but I was so like where the hell you were
Bertrand Newson: [00:37:05]
and how much time was she out of your presence? How much time was he missing or away?
To be honest, uh, coach V I don't know, because when you have at that point of stress, it's not about time. It's, it's kind of, if I was in another zone, I couldn't imagine that I, and I was thinking, okay, I need to go to the police. Uh, where's the police, I didn't have Google maps.
And I just like, because your mind has to be. Focus because you have two choice. If I would have choose to be for me, I forgot my daughter. I would love not going anywhere. You get it. You have to, you I'm power. You, you, you are the victim. You, you cannot be in between, so you have to choose in life. So I had to be strong and go, go forward.
So I had to be empowered and said, okay, this is what's happening. I need to acknowledge it because it's just what it is, what actions I did. So my head was just like, moving like crazy. And when I saw her, I said, this, this is it. So when I saw Ca... at the top, I almost, uh, it was like, okay, bye. We see.
So thanks for finding my daughter. And she said, "do you really think that I will let you go with all the emotion that you've been through today? Just come, I will have you for the night." So that was one of the most beautiful connections that I had, and she was an amazing singer and she was singing in English.
And she was so active because she could sing in English with me. And so I could understand what she was like staying. And she had a son I'm of the same age as my daughter. So the evening was so nice. She cook us a fantastic meal and she even like give us some beer just to have fun. We laugh. And the next day when it was time to go, uh, we both cried because it was something special.
It was just that
Bertrand Newson: [00:38:58]
Kevin Chang [00:38:59]
Which year was this that you were running across Japan and
Kevin Chang [00:39:03]
- Wow. That's incredible. And how many years after the first 250 K as you were in ###### Veronique: [00:39:09] the year after? I did my first two, yes. I I'd say the same year, 2015. So on, it was in 2000. It's in April, 2015 and I was running Japan that like summer 2016 ###### Kevin Chang [00:39:24] and 3000 kilometers in three months. You said you were averaging like a marathon a day, is that right? ###### Veronique: [00:39:30] The real statistic is 3010K. in 72 days. Why we decide to make it quicker is because my husband and my son was joining us at the end. And as I said, I'm a big fan of Disney and you have Disney. In Japan. So I want to have, I wanted to have more time to enjoy my, this Disney vacation. That's it, it was not even something competitive. It was just, okay. Let's, let's make it. And everyday we were like, eh, averaging all the kilometers we did. And another at that's who was really, really touching me. The end of the run, it was really, really cold. We were kind of lost somehow and it was really cold and we said ok, we have to find like a hotel or, um, the night because we will die of cold. So we went from the police station because the police station, Japan are really, really friendly. They do everything to help you, like most of the things that happened in Japan. So we went to the police station and we said, can you help us? We tell the story. And they said, unfortunately, everything is booked because it was like late on the evening. So what they did is they clean up their own changing room and they open up there. Like the Tiffany that we can see. So we sleep an eye in the police station because of them ###### Kevin Chang [00:40:51] is incredible. That's fun. That's a great ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:40:54] story. For many reasons. It's very appropriate right now, you know? So, yeah. ###### Veronique: [00:40:58] Do you know what I, when I look back in this period and why it was so important. Yes, I did like this incredible number, but I experiment humanity as its best. And because we are so busy in our life, we often look, what is going wrong, then what is going right? And, uh, because we look at ourselves in terms of, I don't have enough, we all parts of the same. And planet, we are all created the same thing. So I think what made this experience special is I experiment humanity as is best. And when I finished, I was happy. Yes. Because I succeed. But to be quite honest, I was mostly sad because I have it's this kind of experience. It's beyond words. I cannot even explain how it is. And yes, for me every morning, I didn't know where I would wake up. And see all those beautiful scenery. Japan's, pen-pal stick as a complete wonderful. And I think this time, and when you run, you are just yourself because you don't have fancy makeup, you just run. And the people that you met is you are raw. So when you give yourself the permission to be totally. In contact with your essence and what you have inside you attract the same thing. You give permission to the people in front of you to be the same. So it's exactly why this adventure for me, even now, it's so important and I'm so grateful to have them. ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:42:26] I can't stop smiling. I can't stop. ###### Kevin Chang [00:42:31] So now you've done these ultra long journeys, but you're also, you've gotten faster, right? I mean, you were just telling, talking to us about this. Malaysian race. Talk to us about the run across Malaysia. I, and I mean, you're no slouch anymore. You're not getting up there speed-wise. ###### Veronique: [00:42:48] Yes. And thank you, Kevin, for the question. So yes, last year it was one of the race wise. It wasn't one of my best, best race that I did. It's Kelsey, to see. I don't remember because I know I said from coast to coast from Malaysia for those 44 K and again, I entered totally randomly because there, right. Okay. ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:43:15] I'm thinking about getting out for doing a 10 K tomorrow. I have no freaking excuse at all. Coach V is not making a damn excuse for the rest of 2020 because of Vero's energy. All right. I'm going to have to get off this podcast and go run right now. I'm so fired up, ###### Veronique: [00:43:34] man. Did you really want to know how I entered this race ? ###### Kevin Chang [00:43:42] Please. ###### Veronique: [00:43:45] Okay. So I did Japan and I did, uh, some other run in Malaysia, someone 250 K. I did really great. I won. It was really nice experience. So I met the race director of this run during this race. So I did, I came back in. Did you have a history? So at some point like before last year you sent me a message and he said, Oh, you have to join this 444 K you will love it. It's an adventure race. It's fantastic. And I said, she'll come, do you know what I want to train for my dream race? Who is Spartathlon so if I cannot do both, because one is in July and the other one is in September, and I said, Okay. I, I just can't. I'm sorry. I can't. But you said, do you know what? If you will be, you will love it. It's just fantastic. It's from ladadada and he said it's at your own pace. You just go easy. You will love it. Go. And Because I really, I have a lot of admiration for this person. They were coming. Is it like, I think it's the best and a real mentor for Colin in Asia. Everyone like know him and you don't know. I think he is anyway. So it's my, my running mentor. I have a lot of respect for him and he said, well, do you know what you can do both. I know you can and that at the end, because it's so friendly and so easy, love every athlete equally. So I said, okay, I just go for it. Anyway. We'll have fun for a few days on the mountain. And I asked him, is it flat? Yes. It's flat. Don't believe someone when they say its flat. So I started the, I started to sort of just 44 K. And I was really, really like impressed because all the people was really, really competitive. You have a lot of fun in Europe and I chat with someone who said, I really want to finish in this time. I don't want to sleep rather than Laura and everyone like, and that's that scares me. That stress me. I didn't start with like, okay, what I can do with that. So, but the ability that I have is when I start, I closed the door of all this. I have the ability to be where I am with my gratefulness, with the pleasure that I am doing this. So as soon as I start, I was just like, the first day was difficult because it was not that beautiful. But after that, we, we are in the mountain is it's fantastic. And the second day you wake up with the sound of the orangutans and you know, how many people can have the privilege to see that and Malaysia is really beautiful. We, I run in the most. Beautiful place that I never could never run. And I felt so, so privileged for. And so for the first two days, I was the last runner on the crowd because everyone wants to push it and to be first. And I was the one who slept the most. And I remember the second day, how the runners was "ohfff". And I said to silicone mine and the last one. Okay. And he said, no worry though, you will do it. You, you do your own style, you will do it. And in fact, he was right because I just overtook people. And on the third day he called typed to back up. And then the, the eighth in Southeast Asia is kind of a big deal. So the eighth was pretty bad, but for me, I was just running and being it. I was just getting faster and faster. And then the day before the end, my husband, he was there as support the East side elephants. And I didn't see it, but I could hear the song of the elephant. I remembered it the last day. We think we saw a baby tiger, but we were not sure. I remember seeing the baby tiger. I didn't do. ###### Kevin Chang [00:47:25] That'll get you running fast, ###### Veronique: [00:47:26] Because if the baby tiger is there... ###### Kevin Chang [00:47:29] The mom is not too far behind! ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:47:36] Wow. ###### Veronique: [00:47:37] And we saw like a crocodile that proclaimed on the pets. And you said again, if it's theres one crocodile out there, how many are cause I, and I'm from Canada. So for me, even if I'm here, I always have every day, I have this sense of privilege living at a row that I never take it for guarantees. So where am I? I I'm in those kinds of sceneries. I always remember the Canadian eye inside of me who says, wow, how many people have the opportunity to sing that? So the last day a CEO said, because he had all the people and he said, you're, you're the leading one. And I, I kind of knew with, because the, the last, the, the day of the elephant, I knew that I was quite strong, but I didn't know where. So the last day I knew that I was. The first one and it's, I think it's the first time in my life that I said, okay, I go for it. I it's the first time. So let's crush it. And so calling, he asked me to set a case, just go for a two hour sleep. Even though if you don't speak a lot, you, you are able to go fast on the last day. So on my last day, and what also happened is I'm not young and I'm a female. So often people. Don't believe and don't think that I wouldn't be so strong. So during this, during the race of time doing, when people see me, they just see me as casual. Because when I run, I always smile. I say hi to people. I chat. Like I might be. So people didn't really believe that I was like kind of a strong competitor. So the last day, the guy who was second. It was targeting me. It says this lady will not win. And for the first time I said, do you know what? I will give, whatever it takes, I will give everything. I have to just go for it. Not because I wanted to win. It was just like, I can do it and I will see how far I can go. So the last day of this 444 K, I think we had like. Ack to go. So if she made the calculation, so the first marathon of my day, I did it in four 35. Can you believe it? Wow, because I was so determined and I said, this one, I knew that, that the other guy was kind of angry at me and I said, ha ha. And it's, it's where the mental is. One of my biggest learning, because when I started running, I was always thinking about the other guy was asking, where is he? Where I am in the race, blah, blah, blah. And I stuck to myself because I found my cows inside of me. And I said, I'm just making myself worse. Because the only thing that I put in my mind is where's the other guy is. It's rubbish. So I stopped it and I said, do you know what? We are both in the same position? If I'm tired, he is the only thing that I can control this year and now, and how far I can push. And I knew that I was in good position because if in the worst case scenario, I need ambulance, they have an ambulance. During the race I knew I was, I was safe. I said, in the worst case scenario, do you know what? I will walk by, go for it. And as soon as I decide to just clean my mind and be totally immersed in the present, I was like the best of what I can do. And when I arrive at this marathon, I remember my husband said, you know what? You will win. You can stop and take coffee, take your time. And I said, it's no one. And nothing. Will they educate me how far I can push myself? And I was in this state of, I was not in the same world because I said, is it me? Did I really do that? Wow. If I can be that strong, I would just give it a go to know how strong I can be. And even though if I knew I was running and I didn't care if the time, because it's not really, like, it doesn't matter. And like, I don't care. But the only thing I was is I always say that to my clients. You, you stronger of what you think you are, and it's just a matter of doing it. But when you, you feel it yourself, it's something else. I was just like, crushing it. And for the last 10 K. And you are. I arrived and I was just crying. I didn't cry because I won. I cried because I give everything I have. And I literally, when I speak about this race, I literally changed from the start to the end because I reached a point in myself that I never know it takes this. And if you look on a global scale, my mission is to make the world a better place. But everything has to start by yourself. So if you are more in contact with what is inside of you, your essence what's made you human. If you contact with that, you are able to change other people, but I'll start by you. So during while I was crying, I said, Wow. I reach a level of myself that I didn't even believe that it exists. So for me, this race was by far my best race and left her that, that I was so happy. It's not even the term. I was not feeling in this world. I said, wow, did I just ###### Kevin Chang [00:52:37] do it's crazy. I mean, You crushed the competition, right? I mean, you crush the competition, men, women, probably people what like 10 years younger than you, 20 years younger, maybe. I mean, yes. You destroy people. Right. And a cassette, I think you told us course record of some sort. So yeah. I mean, ###### Veronique: [00:52:58] I did the course record, I think eight hours. ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:53:01] Wow. Wow. And for strategy, I think this is very important for listeners and athletes being confident, but also being smart and conservative in the beginning and not being so fast so soon that their strategy and being able to conserve and manage energy. And build up momentum where other competitors may be out and going and push, push, push, push, push that takes experience and patience and trust. And a lot of times, even in shorter distances, five Ks, 10 Ks, halfs, and fools. Sometimes people are looking to get out the gates quick and lose energy. You can lose a race early, but you can win a race. Late. Great job, Vera. Great job. So ###### Veronique: [00:53:43] thank you. ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:53:43] Yes, Africa on the horizon. Some are 2021. Again, it's one thing about the journey, but again, share with our listeners, the mission behind the goodwill gesture you're doing and giving back to the communities as you navigate across that continent. ###### Veronique: [00:54:01] Thank you. And thank you both of you to get me the opportunity to talk about this, because for me, it's my, it's my life's mission. Uh, it's everything for me. So what I will do in Africa will be running from Alexandria to Cape town. That means 13,000 kilometers, more than 13 countries. The number of country will be decided at the end. Because, like you mentioned, uh, coach B. My goal of this run is to give clean and safe water to people. I am so privileged to be team with a nano filter. It's an African company based in Tanzania. And what they are doing is a filter with the manual technology. They create a filter for a specific, for every soild in every country. So they will like when we will be. In Egypt, apparently it's not that complicated. They just have to change the nanotechnology in the filter. So they changed the nanotechnology. They implemented for the right soil in Egypt. So in every country we will give filter to people and they also get two benefits. One, they get water. So in every filter, like it's kind of a station, it's not just one filter. It's like big, big filter. And in this station, Entrepreneur who will take care of it. And usually it's a female entrepreneur, so I feel a lot of connection. Like I'm an entrepreneur myself and my machine male. So they will take care of the filter to make sure that everything is doing right, because they have to make sure that the technology inside the filter is doing okay. So this is the part of this. And the people in the village and in the city will get access to water for the first time in their life. And for me, because I was in Senegal like 15 years ago, it was not related to running, but it's where I found running because I stopped people for the first time running in so difficult condition. But they were all at D. And I said, if those city galleys people are able to run, I can run too. So I had a lot of inspiration from my time in Africa. So anyways, so long story short, I was in Africa and the family that I was living in didn't have any water, but they have kind of a chance because they have a water, like a sink, but their water coming down was not safe and clean so that people was drinking, unsafe water and unclean. And what happened was, is. They have illness because of, and I think it's insane that now in 2020, we are allowing the people around the world to getting sick because of unsafe water. When we have it as normal, we just go in the toilet and we drink water and we think it's normal for everyone, but it's not. And I even had like this bucket of water in my, in my head. Well, I follow other people in them to have one it's it's so heavy and all are doing that. It's mainly female and kids. So all those kids cannot go to school. It's massive. The impact of do not having clean and safe water. And I was thinking when I wasn't saying, yeah, I have to do something against it. And I was feeling even the shame because I had like this pill to convert anything, water. So I said, our me, I can doing it. When I see that with the other people, we are all the same. We're all human. We are all interconnected in my life. I cannot see that happening again. So it's my first mission is to give clean and safe water to people. And my second mission mission is like I just said, we are all interconnected. And sometimes because we are coming from a rich country, we look at it at this, from up at the people from Africa, because somehow we are rich, but they are even recharged the, of what we think they are. I rarely see people so friendly, so warm, I've been invited to people. I didn't know what they would eat the next day, but I was there. They say, come, come and we celebrate together. We eat together. His sense of humanity that you don't get that much in any other country. I said, how we as a human, how you position yourself? Is it just because. We are rich that we are no, all the mental health that we have in the Western world is that good proof. So my second goal is to make sure that the people around the world, and it's why I really wish to think with filmmaker, because I want that the people see it's not about me, it's about them to see how. We are all interconnected. We are all the same hand. When you run, you don't have any friends. Like I said, we don't have any fancy makeup. You are just yourself. So when I am myself, I give the permission to the other person to be themselves. So I want to see the most of magical human connection creates. And show to the other people around the planet. This is also humanity at this best. So our can we move forward and we grow as human as we are all together. So it's my second goal. And the third goal is running ###### Bertrand Newson: [00:59:01] so profound and inspiring. Thank you for doing your part in droves to make our world a better place. And we love you for sharing your story with us. For opening up, and how running this believing in yourself and trust in your passion, where it can take you emotionally and spiritual. ###### Veronique: [00:59:22] Thank you. And for me, um, this run, because when you go on this journey, It's not just like people saw you will come back now, after that, I cannot come back to the, the life that I am now. I can't, I will be transformed and I know it. And it's also one of the reasons that I will do it doing it. And like I said, you have to be willing to be open to transform yourself first because when you are open to transform yourself, Do you know what you give the permission to the other people to open yourself in you create a better world. So after Africa, I want to have a few months off. And, but after that, I want to carry on India Southeast Asia and, uh, understood that more Western country because. We will need to carry on this momentum and to make some more awareness about this, that water is for everyone. And, uh, what is the consequences for all those people that they never live? It's all these kinds of stories that I will have from my SIM. Although those people that impact their life, that impacted their, the way to go to school. Their relationship, their family life. It's something that we need to go out and say, okay, as a human now, even though it's, we are in the difficult periods, how can we go stronger together? ###### Bertrand Newson: [01:00:39] A hundred percent mission-driven vision, purpose, passion, and a full heart. We salute you Vera. We really do. And, uh, you have our full support. We'll help share your wonderful mission and looking forward to seeing. As you progress and get that journey started officially in the summer of 2021. The race mob family is here for you. ###### Veronique: [01:01:01] Thank you for having me. And can I just say something? I didn't get my number of sponsor yet. So if it's something that it's helpful to you as a sponsor, or I'm like, I'm a one woman show. I do this project all by myself. It's a big, big project. So if you are appealing to elk in any kind of way, I love people and. Just telling me. And if you have some connection with the big sponsorship or something that can help feel to people I'm there. ###### Kevin Chang [01:01:30] Fantastic. Yeah. I mean, we will definitely help in any way that we can. And, um, we'll make sure that we share the links. Where can people find you online if they want to help? And help support this mission. And I also know that you, you just mentioned you have a book coming out as well. If they want to support you and hear more of your story as well, tell our audience where we can find you ###### Veronique: [01:01:50] online. Thank you, Kevin. Uh, it's all about my, my website is dot com and on the social media is the same. And as a professional, I'm a peak performance coach. So I help people to take massive action. Get the momentum. I. And also I love working on the mindset because I think it's really, really important too. So it's one angling to people to help them to reach like the best success and their best life altogether. So it's what I'm doing as a business. And also, if you go on my website, you will see all the information about Africa and about the campaign that I'm doing with nano filter scalp, who is called thirst for life. So it's, it's really, it's my baby. ###### Kevin Chang [01:02:33] Fantastic. And we will have all of the links online. Thank you so much Pharaoh for joining us on the podcast. We really, really appreciated the whole story, your whole story and everything that you're doing. This was just been incredible. So thank you again so much. ###### Bertrand Newson: [01:02:47] Going out for a run, everybody. ###### Veronique: [01:02:50] I'm going to run. Thank you, Kevin. Thank you, coach. You already sent the sticks. ###### Kevin Chang [01:02:58] I hope you enjoy this episode of the race mob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at mob.com. Please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.