Meet the cover star: Sameena van der Midjen

·2-min read
Photo credit: Casper Rila
Photo credit: Casper Rila

Gracing the cover of the the November issue of the magazine is champion ultrarunner

Sameena van der Midjen. The feature inside details much of her traumatic and harrowing past, but also the very significant role running has played in her life, in helping her heal from these traumas and rediscover a sense a freedom.

Here is an exert from the feature -

'She woke a few hours earlier with a sore throat and a slight cold, but still dragged herself out of bed and into her running shoes because, as she likes to say, lying in bed has never made anyone better. Since her very first steps as a runner, she’s been like this almost every day – whatever the weather, however she’s feeling. Over these past few years, the only days she hasn’t laced up her running shoes were when she was in hospital or recovering from an ultramarathon. ‘After a 24-hour race, I do lie on the couch for a day,’ she says, smiling. ‘But, for me, it’s impossible to imagine my life without running. If I haven’t run one day, something doesn’t feel right to me; it’s not a good day.’

Van der Mijden is now eight years into her running career. But she has never let go of the motivation she discovered during her first run, back in 2013. That January day, she was desperately in need of an outlet for her anxiety and anger from past trauma. She had no running kit, but decided to put on the same trainers she wore every day and set out to complete a loop around a local lake. With heavy breaths and aching muscles, she couldn’t run the two kilometres without having to stop and walk every other minute.

Each step was a strenuous effort, but she went out the next day to try again. And she has been out almost every day since. ‘I felt completely free,’ she says of those first runs. ‘There were no distractions, no people telling me to do something. I felt complete freedom, and I still do when I go out for a run.’

That’s especially important to her, because her freedom was taken away from her when she was forced into sex work from 2010 to 2012. Running helped her heal and has given her a path to move forward with the next chapter of her life.'

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