Friday, May 29, 2015

The Launch - Avon Trail Thru-Run

Watch our Launch Video here of the Avon Trail Thru-Run!

Darkness wakes us, the Envisions team that gathered here.  We stand together at a rock I’d missed in the winter snow weeks before.  Jeff, Sally, Susan, Steve, Steph, Steven, Karen, Bernard, and likely more I couldn’t see.  Some had come to run all 111km of the Avon Trail from St. Mary's to Conestgo.  Some came to share in a leg of the journey.  Others we would find throughout the day I’m certain.  By the river we stood.  A community newly formed for a purpose, the beginning of this little dream we have to change the world.  

The town sleeps as we begin.  Perhaps they miss our passing.  This makes me grin, for I miss their passing all the time under the sun.  Perhaps that’s slightly fair.  Crossing the water I breathe in that scent, that fresh spring catch.  You know the one?  A mix of defrosting worms and the promise of knee high mud for the day?  Bless this trail, bless these feet.  Let them carry us through, or if not at least the message of our quest.  

Other’abled Athletes are not often seen at all, let alone seen attempting thru-runs at the ripe hour of stupid o’clock.  Our support team is amazing, guide runners, support runners, company runners, crew, shuttle and those who just stop in for a smile at the side of a road.  They all give the story wings.  The Avon Trail, tucked away and mostly still a slumber, offered the ground to tread, but the story moves through us all.  The purpose of this non-profit, Envisions Project, is to create a space to dialogue about disability and sport, to empower the other’abled to reach beyond a comfort zone and accomplish a big scary goal or two.

Up a few small climbs, through muddy rutted fields, across creeks aplenty, boardwalks, sidewalks, roadside, and into the forest our team shuffled.  Our pace varied greatly throughout the day.  The original goal was to accomplish the entire 111km in under 20hours.  The varying abilities of our runners each leg changed our pace as the day crept forward.  Disability can be like that sometimes, offering different skills in different situations as time and circumstance change.  Any life can be like that sometimes.  Any runner would tell you, everything can change on race day.  Any other’abled person could tell you the struggle of safety crossing a road to buy groceries or pick up the mail can change on a traffic whim, on a weather whim, on an equipment failure, or on garbage day.  Relentlessly the team trudged forward, through a night and into the next morning.  If nothing else demonstrating that we all carry on.  

To watch the earth wake up, both seasonally and again the second morning, is a gift.  How often do you stand alone in the middle of a not yet planted field and stare up at an orange moon?  How many times have you become the arrow on the compass under so many stars?  Have you ever looked fear in the face and screamed into the wind “What, that’s it? That’s your best counter attack?”  Forward movement one slow step at a time, our team climbed that last hill in Conestgo some 28.5 hours later.

Envisions welcomes the chance to stand tall and share with the world.  We pull together like minded people, adventurers, to join the team and accomplish a ‘project’.  Together we dismantle this notion of the “other” and turn it upside down.  Together we support each other, we guide each other, we keep each other going.  We reach towards a big scary goal.  Together we challenge mainstream and inch in a place for dialogue and example of disability and sport. 
Envisions would like to thank all the team members that came out and participated in our Avon Trail Thru-Run.  We would also like to thank the Avon Trail for helping to enable our passage and spread our story.  

If you have a Project idea, let us know! We would love to hear from you. Envisions is a not for profit charitable organization that sets out to help 'other'abled athletes to achieve their goals. Through connections and networking we empower athletes to accomplish the Big Scary Goals we all have.  Email us at or visit our website

If you’d like to get involved in a Project or just find our more please visit our website or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Cheers to your many adventures!

Much love,

Rhonda-Marie Avery

Envisions Founder

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In Search Of Ultra

Welcome to Ancaster Ontario, to Sulphur Springs Trail Race 2015.  My 50km challenge.

It hangs heavy in the air.  This nearly nostalgic excitement of time and space and all things footrace.  Goosebumps crawl along my arms standing in the registration line on Friday night. Here I am, I remind myself.  I must remind myself.  Here I am.  This me, accepted here.  Shoelaces tied with the superstars of the Ultra.  We are all here on a quest, a goal, a dream, a hope... and some of us a dare... To reach just beyond a normal.

To me that links us.  In some cosmic, super cheesy, karmic driven way, we are all 'Other'.  To run a hundred miles, my dear friend Clay tells me, makes us one in a million.  I trust his math.  It's good for my ego.  

I am other.  I am other'abled, other'mother, other'gender, other'pace, other'driven', other'lover.  I am, me, in so many ways.  I am accepted in circles of understanding of The Bigger Picture.  Whatever that means.  we are all here, in search of the Ultra. The dust covered gators, the quivering quads uphill, the right to stand and say on Monday in our normal lives... I did that.

It occurs to me standing in the start that perhaps I don't fit in because of ... oh insert any number of reasons.  But I think, I hope, that's what makes us all fit in.  Seeing beyond the life I live, into this purpose of creating an awareness for disabled athletes offers me a venue to chase dreams.  Sometimes I fear, they are not even my dreams.  But rather the quests of many who dare not.  Who am I to deny the passage of work and effort through my veins?  Who am I to say I can't, when what I truly mean, is that I won't.  The fear of failure haunts my every breath.  It clings to my sweat soaked shirt under the ripe lunchtime sun on the course of my choosing.  It pulls my shoulders forward and down, in a disgraceful, hide yourself in these trees gait as I trudge behind my wonderful, patient guide.  Fear of failure tempts me to sit in that chair and stay put, making a choice to stop effort before embarrassment sets in.  Fear of getting caught, of being exposed as a fraud in this endurance demographic sings louder than any of my off key attempts at old 80's commercials.

To be in search of something, implies you are missing something.  I think this as I run.  What, on earth am I missing?  I need no buckle, the
coveted bling of a 100 mile race.  I need no further sting in my legs of the DOMS that await me in the morrow.  I need no better grasp on reality, if anything I search to let it go.  Don't we all?  Then what, on earth am I missing?
I wonder what they see, the other racers, as they pass.  A girl struggling?  A girl following?  A girl focused on the sound of light trodden feet?  A girl not lingering out on course as long as them? No 100 for me today. A girl different?  A girl the same? Heaven forbid they see a runner.  I'd prefer they merely notice a presence of an attempt out of place.  Disability never quite fits you see. We get tossed into many different boxes, many different categories, but we never quite fit.  We are the comparison to which one defines 'ability' in it's full functioning form.

Oh how I could fill a dictionary in the preface 'dis'... disallowed, discredited, disengaged, disfunctional, dis....appointed.  A lesson taught any number of times.  A lesson I refuse to learn.

Climb the hills.  Gripping hands on knees.  In search of strength I thought was hiding somewhere.  Disjointed jaunt down the embankment, a newly found fear of the ground that may not rise to meet my feet.  In search of trust I swear by daily.  A grateful prayer to the dark skies that allow me to take a friend through a loop alone, as pacer.  Not a role I've ever been permitted to take on before.  In search of skills I long to be granted in different ways.  To cross a finish line both mine and not my own, in search of Ultra and all it stands for, all it offers, all it takes away. Tangled laces, hidden tears, unspoken regrets for the lack of speed, lack of grace; in search of desire to find something missing.

And yet, as the hours tick away, the question remains; what on earth am I missing?  In search of the Ultra that hangs in the air.  Until I figure it out, I'll keep showing up, hoping for a finish just beyond my reach.  Just past my circumstance.

You can see it in the faces of the finishers, 22, 25, 28, 30 hours later.  They have found their missing piece.  And the buckle to hold up their bravepants the next time they choose to chase down the search for the Ultra.

Write your own dictionary I say.  Quick where's my pen?

What does Ultra mean to you?