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Connecting Ultrarunners Across The Globe

International 100+ UltraRunning Foundation

Leading by Example 

Interview with Charlotte Vasarhelyi

By Andrei Nana

November 2014

She is the Canadian National Record holder for the 6 day race with 734+ kilometers. She is part of the Canadian 24hr National Team, and at age 38, Charlotte has over 21 years of running experience.

Her motivation to run is simple: “I use running as a platform to inspire, motivate, and empower youth, to help them achieve more than they thought possible.” This is Charlotte’s vision of contributing to society, because when younger generations grow strong and build their own communities, everyone benefits.

Charlotte’s mission is based on her own experience: “In high school I had a mentor, an active female role model who helped me to realize my true potential, and in doing so, changed my life forever. Since then, I have made it my goal to be a positive influence to youth, especially young girls, to help foster and build healthy self-esteem, to set goals and achieve them through adaption, perseverance, and teamwork. These are all skills that can be translated from running into everyday life. I believe that all kids/youth have amazing potential, but sometimes the situations or environments they are in do not allow them to realize and achieve that potential.”

But to inspire others is not an easy job, and Charlotte works tirelessly to keep younger generations focused through speaking at different events, being involved in many youth organizations and mentoring programs, and raising money through the United Way Oxford’s youth programs[1].

More than that, Charlotte understands that the most effective way to lead, is by EXAMPLE and she will be racing at Icarus Florida UltraFest[2] in Fort Lauderdale in November to show that “the impossible can indeed be possible.” Charlotte explains: “If you truly believe you can accomplish something, and have the courage to take that first step, you will be able to achieve anything.”

Charlotte’s approach to ultrarunning is one of common sense. In fact she does not consider ultrarunning to be an extreme sport, just “simply out of the mainstream thinking.” She remembers when she first began running in the Canadian 24hr National Team and questioned whether she would “fit” into the international racing circuit. Charlotte attributes overcoming her doubts to her ability to focus on goals and use her experiences to looking inside. Additionally, Charlotte never compares herself to others.

For Charlotte racing preparation is crucial, the core of which is the ability to embrace adaptability. She believes one of the main reason new ultrarunners fail is due to a lack of proper mental preparation for a race.

When asked to offer three quick points of advice to new ultrarunners, Charlotte’s response is simple: “keep an open mind – there are no limits; put the time in training before the race (all aspects); during the race accept and embrace the challenges.” Part of her own preparation, these points come through in Charlotte’s approach of designing and using a training plan specific for a certain goal/race. To practice for that goal, Charlotte uses sleep deprivation, back to back long runs, heat training, and practice with nutrition and hydration. Of utmost importance, according to Charlotte, is to develop mental strategies and always have a plan A, B, C, etc.

To help Charlotte’s found raising efforts, please visit her page: United Way Oxford - Charlotte’s Page

[2] Icarus Florida UltraFest:

Photos Credit:     Vasarhelyi Library