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Independent Challenge Spotlight: Running to Paris

Tina intended to join the Paris relay, “Run for Your Life,” but after the attacks on Paris, her plans changed. Despite the attacks and the diminishing daylight during this time of year in the Arctic, she accomplished her goal.

Below is a Q&A with Tina about her Independent Challenge and keen insights from living in the Arctic. She is an incredible symbol of triumph and adaptability as we take on the global challenge of climate action! 

Why did you decide to do your Independent Challenge?

I was living in Tromso, Norway for five months until December. As an avid runner, I was looking online for running in my temporary home, and I came upon a story that a young climate scientist/Arctic researcher was running from Tromso [Norway] to Paris for the Paris Climate Conference (COP21). Along with other supporters, I joined him for the beginning part of his journey. I also learned that there is a relay, Run for Your Life, that is leaving from Northern Sweden and heading to Paris by December 1. I wanted so badly to run to the COP21 and be a part of the change.

Meanwhile, for years, I have seen running fundraisers for cancer (ie. Relay for Life) and other charities. I am very concerned about climate issues and wondered how I could have a run for the climate. I didn’t see a way until I heard of Climate Ride. I knew I could run, and I could raise my voice to say enough.

I decided to change my flight home to the US so that I could run in Paris and join the actions around COP21. In the meantime, I decided to run 350 miles around my temporary home in the beautiful Arctic.

I am so fortunate to be living in the Arctic, which is an incredibly special place. One of the most upsetting and disturbing things to me is that while the oil industry spent decades arguing that climate change wasn’t happening, they now want to take advantage of a melting Arctic and drill for oil. The issue is right here directly in front of me.

Why did you choose to run 350 miles?

I wanted to run 350 miles as a reminder of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s about the maximum that our carbon dioxide levels were for about 400,000 years before the Industrial Revolution, and it’s the amount of CO2 that scientists say is safe. We are currently at 400 parts per million.

I also chose to raise funds for I was involved with some of their Step it Up events several years ago and inspired by their work. I’ve seen’s work in helping put the brakes on fossil fuel extraction and starting the divestment movement. That’s impact.

What was the most inspiring moment of your Independent Challenge?

There were times when I felt so stupid doing this stupid little effort when there was so much tragedy in the world. I felt helpless to really do anything, especially while many refugees struggled and died to get to Europe this fall. I was far away across the world from my home in Idaho, but hearing that a couple friends were running with me in spirit was really encouraging and warmed my heart.  I was really inspired meeting and running with Erlend Knudsen, who ran from Tromso, Norway to Paris mostly by himself and unsupported.

Also, I will remember the stunning views of stark and lonely mountains that surround Tromso and the setting sun while we caught the last bit of daylight at noon in November. I will remember the times I got lost in the woods when I thought I was on an urban island. I will remember the achingly beautiful Norwegian Sea that I saw daily.

What would you tell your friends about your experience?

I would tell them that it is not just big oil. We are all so much a part of the problem. I feel guilty, guilty, guilty, and we all really need to change what we’re doing. I know we have to change the politics, but we also have to change ourselves just as much. I know that’s incredibly difficult for all of us, but I think we need to be asking the question. 

What does it take to prepare for an event like this?

I didn’t prepare at all for my challenge, and at the same time, I’ve prepared my whole life. I’ve ran many miles, and I’ve wanted to make a difference on climate issues. This was a nice opportunity to bring those two things together. I took a little first step, so to speak, and I hope I and everyone else can start making bigger, more serious strides.

Tina is now back at her home in Moscow, Idaho, and says she hopes to recruit friends to do a larger group run event in the future. Learn more about her fundraising efforts here.