We all have our own demons we fight every day. Today, 1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from mental illness, self-harm or addiction dependency. Sophie Kashurba, a former collegiate cross-country runner at Gettysburg College was one of those people suffering.
Collegiate level cross-country athletes seek adrenaline rushes by pushing their bodies to the limit. For more than five years, Sophie got that endorphin rush not by pushing her body beyond its capabilities, but from cutting. An excelling athlete, honor student and all-around people pleaser, Sophie’s expectations for herself were set so high that there was never a sense of accomplishment or relief, except when cutting. “Self harm just became a way of escaping, and also just a way of having something I could control.” By the time college came around, Sophie learned how to control the urge, how to release in a different way; she began running as a means of control, instead of cutting.
Then, Sophie embarked on an #Extraordinary physical and mental challenge. The Ice Breaker Run is a 24-day relay across the United States. Each team is comprised of six people all who have a history of mental illness. Sharing their stories of mental illness along the way, this group of men and women, including Sophie, took turns running the 3,100 miles to get them from Santa Monica, CA to Alexandira, Virginia, the location of the 2016 Mental Health America Conference.
Kashurba ended up running just under 600 miles of the 3,100 in her Gravity V‘s, but that wasn’t the difficult part. For Sophie, it was opening up about her story. “…being open and vulnerable only came after the first couple of times we met with people. I saw that if I was more open, other people would be willing to share their stories.” Sophie, at the age of 23, was the youngest on the team by 20+ years! She wanted to be that person to represent the younger generation and give those closer to her age someone to relate to. That is how Sophie took ownership and become an #Extraordinary member of the team.
She gives running the credit for her healing. “I am extremely thankful to be able to use my love of the sport to help empower others one stride at a time.” Before Sophie took on the Ice Breaker Run in June of this year, she had worked at Running Works from May ‘15- July ‘16, a non-profit organization that utilizes running and life skills as a healing process. Not only has Sophie realized that qualities gained from being part of the running population translates to a positive life, but those involved with Running Works have as well.
This #Extraordinary journey from self-harm to self-acceptance has made Sophie see that, “Life is easier when you know that you don’t have to be perfect.” Kashurba is heading to pursue a doctorate in Chiropractic’s at the University of Western States this year, while continuing to use running as a healing power and as her means of getting her through Badwater 135, her next #Extraordinary feat to conquer.
Check out “To Write Love On Her Arms” at https://twloha.com, an incredible nonprofit organization where Sophie found blogs that helped her understand her struggles.
Sophie wears Newton Running Gravity V’s