“We are defined more by our response to something than what happens to us.”
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.
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,
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.
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
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
22 Days Nutrition: the 100% plant-based, 100% USDA certified organic nutrition products and meal delivery platform designed to meet the needs of your healthy, active life. For 10% off all products (including the meal delivery) and free shipping, visit 22daysnutrition.com/richroll and use promo code RICHROLL at checkout.
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- Connect with Samantha: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Documentary: Desert Runners* by Jennifer Steinman (Director and podcast guest)
- YouTube: Desert Runners Official Movie Trailer | DesertRunnersMovie
- YouTube: Run India with Samantha Gash | WorldVision Aus
- YouTube: Samantha Gash – no finish line | Charlie Syme
- Vimeo: Run India by Steve Young
- News Corp. AU: The tribe has spoken: The full 24 cast of the next series of Australian Survivor here by Luke Dennehy
- ABC News AU: Crossing India in pursuit of quality education by Patrick Woo
- Daily Mail AU: This is not a run around the Botanic Gardens… this is hard’: Former lawyer runs 3800km across India in 40C heat for 77 days by Sophie Haslett
- The Huffington Post UK: Ultra Marathon Champion Samantha Gash On Running The World’s Most Extreme Race by Rachael Getzels
- Herald Sun: Social entrepreneur Samantha Gash prepares for run of lifetime across India
- The Business Journals: Samantha Gash on how ultra-marathons can help you manage your career by Gina Hall
- The Times Of India: Samantha Gash: You can’t be running in India for 76 days and not have enough stories to tell by Pratyush Patra
- India Today: Aussie ultra-marathon runner Samantha Gash is running across India to raise funds for children’s education by Srijani Ganguly
- The Hindu: Sprinting across Indian cities by Kalyan Ashok
- Red Bull: Samantha Gash And Her Epic Run Across India by Supriya Vohra / The Outdoor Journal
- Runner’s World: Why I Run: Samantha Gash by Evie Serventi
- Runner’s Tribe: Samantha Gash starts 3,800km record run across India
- Fit Reserve: In It For The Long Run: Samantha Gash by Caila Ball
- Talk Ultra Podcast: Samantha Gash – Run India by Ian Corliss
- Livingly: What’s Her Secret: Samantha Gash The Australian lawyer-turned-runner and activist talks adaptability, resilience and “desert perspective” by Simona Rabinovitch
- SisuGirls: Serious Sisu: Samantha Gash
- Engaging Women: The Endurance Runner: Interview with Samantha Gash by Martine Harte
- I Run Far: Justifying The Freedom Runners by Dakota Jones
- Greatist: It’s All in Their Heads: The Mental Edge of Athletes Who Win by Sally Tamarkin
Notable People Discussed
- Scott Harrison: founder and current CEO of the non-profit charity: water / The Spring and podcast guest
- James Lawrence: aka: “The Iron Cowboy”: completed 50 Ironmans in 50 States in 50 Days, 2 x podcast guest
- Deane Karnazes: runner, traveler, best selling author and 2x podcast guest
- Shannon Farar-Griefer: aka “Ultra Shannon”: first woman in the world to double the official Badwater 135 mile Death Valley race
- Cath Todd: Australian professor of electrical engineering, claimed the top spot in the women’s category at the 2013 Badwater Ultramarathon
- Jason Koop: American ultrarunner & director of coaching with Carmichael Training Systems
- Jennifer Steinman: filmmaker, director of Desert Runners* and podcast guest
- Turia Pitt: Australian mining engineer, athlete, author, humanitarian, motivationalist, and podcast guest
- Steve Young: director, videographer filmmaker
- Gabrielle Reece and Neil Strauss: hosts of: Podcast One: The Truth Barrel
- Robin Arzon: NYC-based marathoner and Peloton cycling instructor, author of: Shut Up and Run: How to Get Up, Lace Up, and Sweat with Swagger* and 3x podcast guest
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #133: The Ultimate Test Of Human Endurance: Conquering The 4 Deserts Race Series
- RRP #287: Turia Pitt Unmasked – How Choosing Gratitude Turned This Burn Victim Into A Global Inspiration
- RRP #305: Scott Harrison On Why Clean Water Changes Everything
- RRP #149: 50 Ironmans. 50 Days. 50 States: The Iron Cowboy’s Assault On Impossible — Musings On Limits, Conviction, Family & Service
- RRP #115: Dean Karnazes — To Struggle Is To Be Alive
- RRP #259: Dean Karnazes On The Road To Sparta: Channeling Pheidippides, Out Of Body Experiences & Why Inspiration Is A Two Way Street
- RRP #230: Robin Arzón Wants You To Shut Up And Run
- RRP #067: Charlie Engle on Running the Sahara
- RRP #248: From Crack Addict To Running The Sahara To Prison Hero — Charlie Engle’s Third Act
*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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