Running is a fantastic sport that can be done anytime, anywhere. Good for both body and soul, you don’t have to run at a certain pace or cover any specific distance to reap the benefits. As in the case of Hellah Sidibe, who took up running regularly after his career as a football player ended, running became fun and healthy hobby that provided an outlet from everyday stress.


Having left his hometown in Mali at the age of 7 to move to America, Sidibe’s first love was football. Running, on the other hand, was something that Sidibe had come to dread. His football coach would make the team run laps as punishment. Determined to conquer this dislike of running, Sidibe set himself the challenge of running 10 minutes a day for 2 weeks. This immediately changed his attitude towards running; he realized that running didn’t always need to feel tough. Sidibe started enjoying running more and more as he could move his body and be outside in nature. After the initial 2 weeks were up, Sidibe continued running.


After 2 years of running every day, Sidibe set himself a new challenge: the transcontinental run. Running up to 70km a day, for 84 days straight, took immense physical stamina – but also a formidable amount of positivity, determination, and sheer grit. Tackling tricky climates, mountainous terrain, and numerous injuries, Sidibe showed up every day because he wanted to push himself outside his comfort zone and to show people that there is no limit to what can be achieved. Sidibe was the first black person to ever run 3,000 miles across America.


As well as wanting to inspire people to believe that everyone has unlimited potential, Hellah used the run to raise money for the non-profit Soles4Souls, a charity that collects unwanted shoes and clothing and creates opportunities for people all over the world, by giving families the tools to set up their businesses, selling shoes. A pair of good shoes is all that is needed to go running, and it’s all a child needs to keep their feet safe according to Sidibe. Soles4Soles gives kids access to shoes to protect them from what had happened to Sidibe when he was a child (he cut his feet from walking on scrap metal in Mali) to keep them safe.

Since his 3000 mile run, Sidibe remains committed to running every day. The fact that he was able to finish the transcontinental run gives him the utmost confidence that he can do anything he sets his mind to. Sidibe’s feat reminds us that we are all much stronger than we think we are and that everybody’s potential is limitless.

Charlie Nejad


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