11 QUESTIONS TO MEHDI TLADSSU
This month, we are featuring one of the most passionate runners of our DANISH ENDURANCE community. Mehdi has set himself a very ambitious challenge for a great cause: running 12 marathons in 12 months to help raise awareness for hospitalized kids of the Haroz Association.
1. DANISH ENDURANCE: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a runner.
Mehdi: My name is Mehdi. I am a 30-year-old engineer and runner. I have tried various sports during my childhood, but none of them really caught on to me. Running was the exception. Everything started one day in April 2017, a month after I turned 28 years old. I saw an ad for the marathon of Rennes, the city where I was living back then. It was a time where a lot was happening in my life and I needed a push and a challenge. I decided to sign up for my first marathon. Six months and some tears later, I was a marathoner. This journey has allowed me to meet great people and live incredible moments and emotions.
Running allowed me to gain control and to learn a lot about myself, teaching me to go beyond what I thought imaginable just 3 years ago. I do not necessarily aim for a better result from one marathon to the next, I just enjoy being surrounded by thousands of other runners of different backgrounds and situations, all united with one same passion. I like sharing this moment with the crowd, the spectators, and the volunteers. However, at a certain point, that was not enough. I wanted my sporting commitment to serve a greater purpose other than my own personal pleasure.
2. Indeed, in January 2019, you embarked on the very ambitious mission of running 12 marathons in a year. Your goal with this challenge is to raise awareness for the Haroz Association, a local French charity that assists hospitalized and disabled kids. Tell us about this association and why you chose to support them.
I discovered the Haroz Association by chance on Instagram. It is a charity that assists hospitalized and disabled children and gifts them with a smile by having them meet their superheroes (“Haroz”). The volunteers of Haroz aim to spread joy inside hospital walls by giving the kids a chance to meet their favorite characters and childhood superheroes. The smile of children has a unique and magical power. Children’s smiles have the power to recharge you and give you back energy. The heroes are the children who manage to keep their joy despite their disadvantages and handicaps. It is the need to reciprocate, to make my races serve a purpose and to see more smiles on their faces that pushed me into this challenge.
3. How is running 12 marathons a good way of helping Haroz, Mehdi?
The idea is to raise awareness and give Haroz visibility, outside of the usual channels, and to reach more people by wearing their colors in every one of my races. In parallel, I try to collect donations to fund activities for the Haroz children (such as the purchase of pediatric equipment, creation of a playroom in the hospital, the renovation of old costumes, purchasing of new superhero costumes).
That is why I have also created an online fundraiser and donation pool. 100% of its content will be donated to Haroz to fund those activities. The financing of my participation in the 12 marathons (bibs, transports, accommodation and more) comes from my own funds and from the generosity of the race organizers who invite me, and sports brands that sponsor and support me.
4. What does your marathon calendar look like?
Most of the marathons I will participate in are held in France for logistical reasons. Some are small and local; others are large and very well known. Clearly, the calendar is subject to modifications, but the aim is 12 marathons by the end of 2019: 1. Cernay (06.01) “2. Marseille (24.03) “3. Nantes (28.04) ” 4. Sénart (01.05) ” 5. Copenhagen (19.05) ” 6. Caen (16.06) ” 7. Plomeur (21.07) ” 8. Rouen (15.09) ” 9. Laval (29.09) ” 10. Salon de Provence (13.10) ” 11. Vannes (20.10) ” 12. Rennes (27.10)
5. Running 12 marathons is both a physical and mental challenge. How are you feeling Mehdi, now that you are almost halfway through the project?
I think the hardest part of a challenge is to convince yourself to do it. Also, managing logistics and traveling for different races. A marathon is a distance that should not be taken lightly as it is demanding for both body and mind. The hard part is not to start but to finish and to recover afterward and get ready for the next fight. My stubbornness is one of my strengths. To paraphrase John Stephen Akhwari, “I do not register for a race to start it. I sign up for a race to finish it”. When the going gets tuff, it is enough that I remember my commitment to the Haroz children in finishing the 12 marathons. I remember why I started, and that reason fuels me to keep pushing forward. The prospect of a delicious burger and ice cream after a marathon also helps.
6. What do you feel you have learned throughout this challenge?
That it takes more than that to put me down. I’m stubborn. I don’t know what the future is made of but when I put my mind into something, I try my best to accomplish that goal. A lot of people have told me that it is a crazy mission, but other athletes have accomplished even crazier goals, so why should I not be able to do it?
7. Such a challenge puts a lot of physical pressure on the body. Which measures do you take in order to prevent injuries?
Prior to beginning the challenge, I went to see a sports doctor and a cardiologist. I also regularly consult a physiotherapist between races to help my muscles recover better. Moderate strength training helps me stay in shape. The DANISH ENDURANCE Exercise Bands come in handy for that. I do regular stretching sessions and a little yoga at home to keep a minimum of flexibility. I try to listen to my body, to detect any signs of fatigue. And, of course, I drink a lot of water every day. After each race, I immediately put on my DANISH ENDURANCE Organic Cotton Compression Socks. I also use a blues electro-stimulation box to help me recover muscularly. I also ice muscles and joints and I massage them regularly.
8. Do you think running is a good way of raising awareness for initiatives such as Haroz?
I think that running, in addition to proposing a feeling of freedom and well-being, allows you to raise awareness for great causes and initiatives such as the Haroz Association. Running is a sport that has become extremely popular in recent years and I see a greater number of runners running in solidarity with various charities.
9. Do you think this aspect of “social responsibility” should be more present among runners?
I think we all have it. I often say that running is the only lonesome sport that is practiced collectively. In endurance races, there is great solidarity between the runners. Sometimes a glance can communicate more than words could. I know it because I lived it. In moments of hardship, a good company can keep you moving. I have many good friends that I know through running and who proudly wear colors of various associations (special mention to “Team Ruban Bleu”). You have to find the association that speaks to you and gives you that little extra motivation.
10. Which advice would you give to runners who would like to undertake similar challenges?
If you feel capable, why not? A lot of people will say “it is impossible” or “you are crazy”. Others, however, will believe in you and will support you. However, you must be honest with yourself. We are all different. There are people who run more than 50 marathons a year. I know that I simply would not be able to achieve that – not yet at least. Aim only for what you can do, seek great advice and agree to reconsider your objectives. A medical opinion is necessary before embarking on a challenge of this kind, as in any other sporting challenge. The joy of doing something that makes sense for you will be worth the sacrifices made. Believe in yourself. Enjoy what you are doing. If ever in doubt, remember why you started.
11. For this adventure, you chose to run in our DANISH ENDURANCE Socks – are they keeping up with your expectations?
I discovered the brand when I was doing my purchases for my first marathons in 2017. I chose DANISH ENDURANCE due to the excellent quality/price ratio. The fabric is comfortable to wear and I have never had any blisters while wearing my DANISH ENDURANCE Compression Socks for the marathon and during training sessions. The maintenance is excellent. The variety of choices allows everyone to find what they need. Since my very first marathon, I have been using DANISH ENDURANCE products regularly, in training and in competitions. To date, I have been testing them in many running contexts, including 10 marathons, 3 ultras, and several trails and half marathons. Additionally, the customer service of the brand is great, easily accessible with short response time, and that makes a difference.
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