Ultra-Athlete Samantha Gash On Suffering For Your Passion, Running Across India & Why Service Is Paramount

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“We are defined more by our response to something than what happens to us.”

 Samantha Gash  


Imagine running a 250 kilometer ultramarathon across the Atacama desert — one of the driest places on Earth — when your only legit running experience is a single ill-fated marathon attempt that left you humbly walking the last eight miles.

That same calendar year, you race three more 250km ultramarathons to become the first female and youngest person to ever run and complete the 4 Desert Race Series Grand Slam, one of the world’s toughest and most prestigious endurance achievements imaginable.

This is inspiring story of Samantha Gash – ultra-athlete extraordinaire, roll model, humanitarian, and just a really cool person.

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Discovering a previously unbeknownst acumen for endurance and a disposition for suffering unlocked a certain joy in Samantha, as well as a thirst for more. So the year following her 4 Deserts achievement, she conquered a 222km non-stop foot race across the Himalayas at 6,000 meters above sea level — an event that had only been completed previously by one man.

That experience triggered a deep desire to leverage her running for humanitarian causes. So she got to work, running and raising money for causes she believed in. Among her accomplishments:

  • A 379km non-stop run across Australia’s Simpson Desert on behalf of Save the Children Australia;
  • A community run & fundraising event on behalf of podcast fave Turia Pitt and Kate Sanderson, victims of the Kimberley ultramarathon bushfire – a race in which Samantha also competed;
  • A 32-day, 1968km run across South Africa’s Freedom Trail, also on behalf of Save The Children Australia; and
  • A 76-day, 3253 run across India from from Jaislamer, Rajasthan to Shillong, Meghalaya on behalf of World Vision

Amidst the insanity of it all, she somehow managed to raise over $203,000 and counting for the aforementioned causes.

Today we unpack Samantha’s extraordinary, inspiring journey, blisters and all.

This is a phenomenal conversation about Samantha’s transformation from someone with no athletic background into the inspiring ultra-athlete humanitarian she is today. From all the hardships and seemingly insurmountable setbacks and obstacles to the rare air she occupies today, it’s a story about self-belief, purpose, perseverance and the call to service.

But the core theme of today’s conversation is the close kinship that exists between passion and suffering. And the magic that transpires when you have the willingness to entertain the impossible, step outside your comfort zone and courageously leap through fear into the abyss.

Sam is an absolute delight. It was a privilege to spend a few hours with her and boyfriend Mark Wales, a badass Australian Special Ops Commander she met when they were both contestants on Australian Survivor.

You’re gonna love this one. Promise.

Peace + Plants,

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P.S. – You may recall that Samantha’s name came up in my podcast with Jennifer Steinman way back in March 2015 (RRP 133). Jennifer is the filmmaker behind Desert Runners which profiled 4 people over the course of a year as they tackled this 4 Deserts Grand Slam. Samantha is one of the featured athletes in that amazing movie. See it if you haven’t already and in case you missed it, have a listen to my podcast with Jennifer.

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I want to personally thank everyone who responded to my podcast with Scott Harrison and donated to charity: water by joining The Spring. As of the date of this writing, the RRP community has collectively raised enough revenue to build 4 wells annually! Amazing. Inspired by your generosity, my company has decided to sponsor one well per year – so that makes 5 wells for 2017. But why not make it 10? For just $20-$40 in monthly donations (100% of which go directly to clean water projects), you can make an incalculable difference in countless lives by investing in a world where everyone has clean water. There is simply no better feeling than providing a basic, life-altering human right. To learn more and join, please visit The Spring at cwtr.org/richroll.com 

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Thanks to this week’s sponsors:

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SHOW NOTES

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Thanks to Jason Camiolo for production, audio engineering, show notes and interstitial music; Shawn Patterson for graphics. Theme music by Ana Leimma.

*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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