Welcome to the third article on Surviving the war on talent series. Click here and here to read the previous ones. This article is going to somewhat go off on a tangent and not look at someones career but rather a recreational activity that they excel at.
Meet Gwendoline Williams. Just like Bruce Wayne, she too has an Alter Ego. In the “daytime” she works at the Millennium Challenge Account in the Administration and Accounts Department. At “night” she transforms into ‘Missfit’, a competitive marathon runner, traversing leaps and bounds to reach her destination.
How did you start running:
I have always been active. In school, I was always on the soccer, hokey and swim team, but the funny thing is I always hated running. When I was 18, I was much heavier than I was comfortable with, so I joined a gym and they would take us out for runs *ooooooh!* I couldn’t even do a 100 m! So I took it as a challenge and just kept pushing, I just got stronger and stronger, and realized I’m actually really good at this!
I did my first marathon (42 Km) last year, I didn’t tell anyone because I was so huge, I just decided to go. I did it 5 hours 54 mins, *yoh* and people laughed! I was so proud of myself but heard I was a joke to others.
But that didn’t stop her, like I said leaps and bounds. She signed up for the Soweto Marathon in South Africa and did it in 5 hours 38 minutes.
What has your running ‘career’ been like?
After the Soweto Marathon I started running with Lusaka Running Club and we were doing all these crazy things like running up mountains and I got better and stronger. I didn’t tell anyone, but I had signed up for Comrades, which is known as the ‘Ultimate Human Race” (86 Km). I had never run a marathon in good time, 5 hours 38 minutes was my best time and it required a qualifying time of 5 hours so I needed to chop off 40 minutes and I did that at the Johnson Crane Marathon (4 hours 54 minutes).
People then started to find out that I had signed up for Comrades and they just thought I was crazy because I wasn’t the right weight and I was all over the place. But I followed my training plan to the tee and I did the Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa and I was seventh or eighth place from about 40 runners who came from Zambia. Then they started to take me seriously. I finally ‘personal bested’ at the Lafarge Marathon here in Lusaka which I did in 4 hours 26 minutes.
Tell us about Comrades ‘The Ultimate Human Race’:
It was the most amazing thing, but it was also all involving. You need to have run 1500 Km from January, you need to have been eating the right foods, and your core needs to be very stable. You only have 12 hrs to complete the race, if you do not complete it in the allotted time you are considered as not having completed the race, so you line up at 05:30 AM and you should be done by 05:30 PM. Out of the 17, 031 people who started the race only 13, 800 finished, and I was one of them!
Did you stop at any point? No not at all, but I was passing by people who were vomiting on the side of the road, some were just laying on the ground just looking up. There’s this lady I met on a hill and she was so negative, I literally dragged her up the hill after that I had to leave her because she was going to end my race.
Did you always know you were going to finish it? No, I had actually given up on the route until I realized that I had 7 Km to do in 1 hour 30 minutes. I thought to myself ‘okay I can do 7 Km in that time and I started talking to myself ‘dig deep Gwen, dig deep! lets go miss fit!’ and I just started beasting. I finished the race in 11 hours 34 minutes, that last 800 m was the longest of my life.
Comrades teaches you how to overcome your greatest battles and to me it is a direct translation of what life is and how we must work hard and prepare ourselves to overcome obstacles in life because they will present themselves just as those ‘big 5 hills’ on the route did. Most of the run is a mind game and I salute all who take on this mighty task whether they succeed or not!
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Relentless. Daring. Energetic.
What’s your favorite quotation?
‘All things are possible, only believe’ – Brother Branham
Would you say the following traits describe you?
|5||Ability for abstract and logical thinking||X|
|6||High stress tolerance||X|
I don’t consider myself intelligent I’ve just been exposed to many things in my life which allows me to think in a certain way.
What time do you wake up?
She definitively said 04:45 on run days and gave a vague answer for non-run days, go figure!
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to read, knit, and travel. I also really like nature, so I try and experience it in all it’s different forms.
How do you stay at the top of your craft?
By being Consistent. By being Focused on what I’m working towards. By following a plan and sticking to it.
Are leaders born or made?
Leaders can be made. For me, leadership isn’t having a title, its being inspirational.
For all of the people, who aspire to reach the heights you have, what would your advice to them be?
Be focused, be bold, be brave. Most people complain a lot, GOSH! Just do it and don’t bother with what people say.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m definitely doing comrades again and I want to do a triathlon next year. I’m going to be doing this until I die. My goal isn’t to be an elite runner but an elite me. One of the things I’m currently doing is running for charity, so that just adds a whole new dimension to my runs.
I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Gwendoline Williams for taking time to do this interview. I had such an amazing time. Your energy and positivity give me joy and inspire me to be boundless.