‘Dare Mighty Things’
“When I first talked to Sophie, she inspired us all here, particularly me, with her motto – “Dare Mighty Things”. I think we all have a dream deep down to do something out of the ordinary, a real challenge to test our limits or do something completely extraordinary. Sophie has accomplished this. I loved her story from the start and the fact that she was inspired by our crazy barefoot runner, Aleks, who is running from Northern Norway to Tarifa in Spain – over 7000 kilometres! Now, at the end of her journey, she has inspired me once again. I hope she will continue to do the same for others. Maybe Sophie Rooney is just one of those amazing people.” – Richard Pearson, Founder & CEO of PledgeSports.
Some people are bound by records, others break them. Sophie Rooney is a record breaker and an all-round example to anyone who has an ambition in life.
After setting off for Norway in August, Sophie returned home last week as the first ever woman to run the – a 3,630km route covering the length of Scandinavia.
To learn more about her history-making experience, PledgeSports Founder & CEO, Richard Pearson, caught up with Sophie.
Here’s what happened when Richard Pearson (RP) met Sophie Rooney (SR) – Enjoy!
RP: What was the one thing you missed most while doing your run?
SR: This is a tricky one because it changed a lot depending on where I was in the run.
For the first few days, where food was rationed due to an absence of shops, I definitely missed food the most. The ability to have a hot meal in a warm and dry environment is definitely something which I took for granted before.
As food became more accessible this was less of a worry. In fact, faced with a choice of supermarket goods, I reached the point where I was happy to eat cold food all the time, and I actually threw away my stove when I reached Sweden for the second time.
Other things I missed were being warm and dry, my dog and even sometimes, my family.
I think it was more a case of what I looked forward to being rid of as opposed to what I missed. I looked forward to not having to wake up cold, not having to pack up the tent, not having to put wet (or sometimes icy) socks and shoes on, and not having to carry everything I needed on my back!
SR: In all honesty the North wasn’t actually that cold – the coldest temperatures I experienced were further South – between Trondheim and a mountain village called Dombas. I personally run better in warm temperatures – but given that I was running slowly and awkwardly (because of the bag) anyway I don’t think it impeded running. The one annoying thing about the cold was that it meant a constant game of putting on/taking off layers. And gloves too.
RP: At any point did you feel like giving up? If so, how did you beat that feeling?
SR: There was one day near to the start of the trip where I thought I would have to give up. I think it was about 6 days in – we had been walking through bog for days, and then on this particular day, I think we managed to lose the trail twice.
I was conscious of the fact that I was slowing Aleks down and the blisters on my feet were getting worse each day – making it hard to put my shoes on, let alone stand up and start walking in them. I remember saying to Aleks that I thought I may have to try and get a coach/bus to a nearby town and have a few days of respite.
Aleks told me that if I got on a bus – that was it, game over. We were in the middle of nowhere that night – which was probably a good thing as it meant even if I was tempted – I still had no option but to carry on to the next town which was around 30km away.
This was the part in the trip where I knew I had to change to roads if I were to successfully complete the journey on my own. So rather than give up, I found a solution to all the problems I was facing, and made my own way via roads. I’m so happy in hindsight that I made this decision – but it was tough at the time!
After this, I knew I was in control and that I could do it. So even when offered an easy ticket home from the hospital in Kiruna, I knew there was no way I giving in.
RP: Did you pick up any injuries along the way? And how did this effect you?
SR: Other than the usual tight muscles, chafing and blisters, I actually managed to stay fairly injury free.
There was the slight inconvenience of a stomach ulcer which I discovered around 29 days in. However, after an emergency gastroscopy and blood transfusion (and a prescribed 5 days rest) I was up and running again.
There was one other scare, when I managed to fall into a ditch and felt a very worrying snapping sensation, but the worst that came of this was a day of dealing with cramp in my calf and few days of tenderness.
SR: It has been a lot trickier than I thought returning home. Although I have been super busy since March (When I signed up for the trip), it has been working towards that final goal of reaching the finish line. This meant that once I had got over the initial joy at reaching the German border, I really felt a liittle bit lost.
I still do actually. My main focus now is on establishing some short term goals to aim for as I transition back in to everyday life. The first is preparing to meet a potential publisher, because I am really looking forward to writing up the trip properly!
One thing I have found is that I now see running as a treat – a bit of time to myself and a great way to find head space. I seem to have lost my competitive drive to run, chasing times and PBs etc., and now run for the sake of running, something which is much more enjoyable.
RP: Has this challenge given you the drive to do more? If so, what’s next on the agenda?
SR: Definitely. But I think next time I want to go bigger – which will require plenty of planning and hopefully seeking a corporate sponsor – so I think the next ‘big adventure’ may take a bit longer to materialise.
However, in the mean time I plan to do some more short time scale challenges here in the UK. There is so much of the country I have yet to explore so I look forward to doing this as much as possible in the coming few weeks – starting with cycling to London from Banbury (and back) this weekend.
I have no idea if I can do 250km on a bike in two days, but there is only one way to find out.
RP: Tempted to go over and join Jim in the US or meet Aleks for a leg of his run?!
SR: Extremely tempted. Jim has actually suggested this before – so maybe I will wait for Barefoot (Aleks) to return and then we can then both go and see Jim for what I hope will be a warmer run!
RP: Well you might have a 3rd wheel there as I might tag along too!
RP: How did PledgeSports help? And have you any message for all of your supporters?
SR: PledgeSports helped enormously – it is a great way of being able to generate funds without feeling like you are pestering people for support. It was so easy to set up, it gave me a platform to share my story/cause, and it is a great way of offering people something back for their support.
Your company is so supportive, enthusiastic and helpful too so it never felt difficult or a hassle to set up the page or contact you for advice. Without a PledgeSports page I would not have generated the funds I needed for the trip, or indeed the top up in funds I needed following my hospital stay.
To anyone who pledged any amount on the site, and to all those who shared it with their family and friends too, I simply could not have done this without you, and I will genuinely be eternally grateful.
You’ve helped me to see that no dream is too big and I hope that if I can help any of you in return one day, that you won’t hesitate to ask me – even if that is just through giving some advice on setting up your own PledgeSports page!
Thank you, Rich, for being so helpful and friendly! You may not realise but your enthusiasm really spurred me on and I’m sure it does to others too. I think the whole concept of your business is incredible – I love that it gives everyone, from any background, an opportunity to excel. It’s one example of something being done right in this world – they seem to be getting increasingly rare so cherish that!
RP: Well thank you too Sophie, In everyday business it can be hard to stay focused and motivated, so its nice to here something like this. Stay in touch, always “Dare Mighty Things” and I hope you inspire others to do the same!
Want to read some more stories on running? Here you go!
- The mental and physical benefits of running
- The difference between fitness and endurance
- Trail running V Road running
- Choosing the right running shoe for the right surface
- How different running surfaces affect the body
Are you or someone you know planning an extreme expedition? We have helped many athletes like Sophie raise the money they need to fulfil their amazing ambition. We’d love to help others do the same.