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Monday, August 9, 2010

Icons. Norma Bastidas.

I would like to pay tribute, over the next few months, to some of the people who really make things happen in life. I will be speaking to individuals who push it all the way, who take it to the edge and then realise "Hey, there is a ledge beyond the edge", and just keep going. I am lucky to be able to call them friends and inspiring they most definitely are.

There was never any question as to who I would interview first, there are many hero's but it always boils down to one amazing lady. Norma Bastidas. She has blazed a trail and really shown the way for others, myself included especially when it came to 'Running for Pearl'. Her advice and support have been invaluable.

Norma is a mother on mission and when her son Karl, who is now 15 years old, was diagnosed with Cone Rod Dystrophy, she ran. As a single parent he did not run away from the problem. She ran toward a solution and to raise awareness about this little known affliction, and by the sounds of it she is a long way from stopping. What she has achieved along the way is pick-your-jaw-off-the-floor type stuff. See below for last years calendar of events.....

Race Place Date Distance Notes
Brazil 135 Ultra Brazil JAN 23-25 217K Completed
Antarctic Ice Marathon Antarctica Jan 28 100K Completed
6633 Ultra Canada March 13-16 192K DNF
Alpine Skyrun Australia March 28-30 120K Completed
Iron Horse Ultra Canada May 9-10 160K Completed
Namibia Race Africa May 17- 23 250K Completed
Gobi Race China June 14-20 250K Completed
Swiss Jura Marathon Switzerland July 5-11 175K Completed
Total distance


This year Norma is taking on the 771 Challenge, 7 summits, 7 continents, 1 record. That is climbing the highest summit on each continent for a new record. The current record is two years and sixty eight days but Norma is aiming to do this in one year.







Argentina, South America

Dec 2010

Vinson Massif


Ellsworth Range, Antarctica

Jan, 2011



Nepal/ Tibet, Asia

May 15 2011

Mount McKinley


Alaska, North America

May 15 2010



Tanzania, Africa

Sep 16 2010



Russia, Europe

July 30 2010

Carztens Pyramid


Indonesia, Oceania

March 2011

You get the picture regarding her dedication, oh and not forgetting she has just finished and amazing climb of Mt Kiliminjaro. Below is one of the many video diaries and you can the rest of them here

Untitled from Norma Bastidas on Vimeo.

So without me harping on, I posed a few questions to Norma and here is what she had to say.

Norma, you are currently based in Calgary AB, tell me little bit about your childhood and where you grew up?

I will hit a cord here with some people. I was born in Maxatlan, Mexico. The last of 5 kids, we were very poor and my dad was an alcoholic so there was never enough money. Growing up was very tough but we loved each other, my dad died very young, his unhealthy lifestyle caught up with him. He did quit drinking before he died and those years are my favourite years. Everyone knows that alcoholism is bad but not a lot of people talk about the negative impact on the families. In a strange way, here is where I learned to get over things quickly. We couldn't spend a lot of time dwelling on things as we needed to to find a solution to problems quickly. We were dealing with major issues such as survival and education. The effects of my dad's drinking were incredibly destructive, unfortunately a few years after my dad died I stared drinking, I was about 13 years old. I was never an alcoholic but I drank heavily since that's all I knew, it was when I married that I realised that I didn't want my kids to se my drinking so I quit. In the past sixteen years I have had maybe ten drinks and I do not miss my drinking days.

When did you start running and did you know from the beginning that it was your true calling or did it take a while to get into your veins?

I remember running when my kids were little, I was already a single mother and didn't have time to go to the gym. I never ran longer than an hour and never more than three times a week. For some reason I bought the whole idea that running was hard on your joints. It was not until my son Karl was diagnosed with Cone Rod Dystrophy four years ago that I started running everyday. I had trouble sleeping so I just got out and ran and felt better when I got back. The moment I fell in love with running was during my first trail run, it was love at first sight! After that running was never a problem, stopping was.

Tell me a little bit about your boys?

My oldest son Karl who is 15 is an amazing human being, he is so sweet, so compassionate and loves animals. He has also been losing his sight and it's been hard on his grades. Karl is the perfect example that its not about ability but about having the right attitude. He is popular, happy and never complains, he is also the most generous person you could ever meet. Since grade 1 he has asked his friends to donate to the SPCA or the Food Bank instead of birthday presents to him. My other son Hans who is 12 is the jock of the family. It doesn't matter what sport he tries he does very well. Right now he swims competitively and does triathlons. He is incredibly focussed and works hard. Hans has found a great balance of winning gracefully, if he does not win he is sometime upset and its not because he is not graceful. He is upset when he knows he could have done better and he lost focus. He knows that its OK to ask more out of yourself sometimes. Both of my boys teach me something, Karl teaches me to not take myself too serously and Hans teaches me to be passionate.

How hard has it been to juggle the adventures with being a mother, are there times when you feel dwarfed by the enormity of it all?

I always say that they should give you the medal when you arrive at the start of the race. The reason there are not a lot of women at endurance sports is because it's so hard to successfully manage a family, a career and training. I have made my living the past two years doing what I love but before that I had to work full time. The best investment I made was buying a treadmill, leaving my kids at home for seven hours so I could go training is not an option. But with the treadmill I could put them to bed a run through the night while they were sleeping. I also used to split my runs, one run in the early morning at 5am and then again late at night. That way I could increase the mileage without it impacting on my kids and work life too much. People always ask me how I do it, I always tell them that if you love running as much as I do then you will find a way to do it all too.

What is your one accomplishment that stands head and shoulders above the rest?

Education. We were so poor and education was a luxury. I speak three languages and I am currently finishing a Bachelor of Management.

I must congratulate you also on your recent engagement to Charlie (Engle, Ultra Running Legend) He must be a huge source of strength and inspiration?

Charlie is a huge part of my life, he makes me feel normal! I have a lot of respect for him; he has overcome incredible challenges and he is always so positive. I love being with somebody who is kind, generous and solid. He is also incredible with my kids and to my pets; to me those are the most attractive attributes in a person.

What are your plans for the next six months?

I am going to continue climbing, I hope to climb as many of the 7 summits as possible. Climbing is not only physically demanding it is also incredibly expensive so I am just going to take the next few months schedule as it comes.

How can people get involved and help your cause?

There are several charities that I support through my trust fund 'Not Afraid of Greatness'. For more information on how to donate just go to my website

I can honestly say that you have helped me in getting out and doing more with Running for Pearl and I am just one of many, any advice to someone who is climbing their own mountain?

Let go of the anger whatever it might be, the best thing that I did for myself was to let go of the anger. We all have thing in our lives that we feel have been unfair or that have made it hard for us to have the life we once dreamed of. Letting it go and starting fresh each day is so freeing. There are no expiry dates on dreams, go hard!

And finally, describe yourself in 5 words.

Stubborn, Focussed, Passionate, Calming, Solid.

I am honoured to have been privy to the sheer honesty of Norma's answers. It's refreshing to hear and I think everyone one can learn something from her attitude. Norma, a sincere thanks for sharing here.

See you round the bend.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Dylan's Trail.

Dylan out on the trail. He makes me proud to be a dad that boy. Love him with all I have.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pearl's 3rd Birthday

Pearl's 3rd birthday. A proud day indeed. Hitting the trails hard soon and my battle may have been uphill, but I feel good and ready to take it to the next level.

See you round the bend.


Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.