Running for a friend and her gracious spirit

For the past 14 years, running has been a way of life for me. Running keeps me sane, motivated and focused, while running for a cause simply makes my life more meaningful.
As a runner, I am constantly in search for personal sports stories with an element of inspiration which will motivate me to the next level- improve my time, prepare for the next challenge or simply add more meaning to my fitness pursuits. The story of 81 year-old Sister Madonna Buder intrigued me immensely! Known as the ‘Iron Nun,’ Sister Madonna began to run at the age of 48 and she has been running ever since, having competed in many marathons and more than 340 triathlons (including the Ironman distance)! She explains that running helps harmonize mind, body and soul and, while she was initially faced with some opposition to the apparently differing worlds of being a nun and a competitive athlete, she managed to blend these two passions by adding a ‘good cause’ as a key ingredient. Sister Madonna uses racing as a way to raise money for several causes while she dedicates each race to someone specific. A cause of heart indeed!
Today, that ‘cause’ for me is my beloved friend Voula, who left this world six months ago, on November 9, 2012, having ‘walked’ on the arduous path of cancer for many years. A month following her passing, I dedicated the Quantum Nicosia Half Marathon to Vou and run in hope for (a cure for) cancer having raised donations and awareness for a local Anti-Cancer Society. In this race of HOPE, I was decked in orange, with an orange sports drink in hand and could not help but smile right through all 21 kms. I was smiling at Vou’s wonderful memories and the legacy she left behind. What’s more, I was touched by friends of heart who acted as volunteers for the race, giving me that extra mental shot while helping me send a joyful cheer up towards those fluffy clouds, on which we agreed Vou was floating on.
For Voula’s 6-month anniversary, I wanted to run 6 kms, once again, decked in orange. ‘Why orange?’ you may be wondering. Well, Voula’s favorite character and much-loved hero was Tigger. And, I promised Vou that for as long as I run, Tigger would bounce along by my side. I run, despite the heavy rainfall, and as Voula’s beautiful memories begun to unfold, I smiled, laughed and cried… I reminisced upon her child’s heart, her gracious warrior spirit, her endless humor and contagious laugh and grinned at the thought of Tigger swinging through her fingers. Words from dear friends kept resonating in my ears…
‘… an amazing free spirit… a really great person… a friend who knew how to listen, how to stand next to you, how to give… and she was truly giving from her heart. A person who loved hugs and kisses,’ Elena remembers. And then she recalls her laugh: ‘Her laugh was like water coming out of her… a truly noteworthy person whom I will always carry in my heart.’
‘People who laugh loudly are not afraid, so you shouldn’t be afraid of them… these people are always open to others… they are spontaneous and creative… people with a boisterous laugh are able to keep a secret… they give you space into their world and are generous with their sentiments,’ a mutual precious friend once said about Vou, adding that ‘a person who laughs hard, keeps his/her sorrow a personal affair and asserts his/her childlike enthusiasm until the very end.’
‘How can you ever forget such a distinctive laugh and straightforward outlook towards life!’ another dear friend said.
As the rain washed away my tears, it felt fabulous and liberating as I thought that nothing can wash away the memories and legacy of someone so remarkable!
I dedicate this run and its splendid energies to your loving memory and gracious spirit, dearest Vou…

NB: the photo is Voula’s creation from her Fantanimals Collection


About Mahi S

I was born on the island of Cyprus in 1971. For years, I lived the life of a nomad: I grew up in the Arab Gulf, finished high school in Cyprus, then went to the U.S. for five remarkable, life-changing years of study and work in public relations. With every change of home, I was confronted with the challenge of separation and the issue of identity, but ultimately the rewarding experience of interacting with people of different cultures has informed my life ever since. It inspired me to create an ideal setting wherever I found myself, to live meaningfully and use passion as the main ingredient in my life. I run to keep myself motivated and to fire the kind of creative thinking that keeps me balanced and content. But it’s also an ongoing challenge: since 1999, I have completed 17 half-marathons, which I try to run in a different city every time. In fact, running and travel are the two pillars of my life philosophy: “Travel is fascinating, whether it’s about a series of mesmerizing destinations or a journey within myself”. “Running keeps me sane, motivated and focused!” Right now, I am focusing on promoting my new book, ‘A squirrel in your kitchen’ an e-cookbook with quick, easy and delicious recipes (and anecdotes) from dearest friends around the world. I am also hoping to experience the fascinating challenge of a full marathon in 2016; in Athens or New York. We’ll see!

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