Julie Sigoloff’s love of nature started early at summer camp. Unlike most campers though, she had the fortune of growing up in a family who owns Camp Thunderbird in Bemidji, Minnesota beside Lake Plantagenet. Her time there laid the seed for a life-long connection to the environment and her commitment to take action on climate change. She’s been waiting for a Climate Run since she first learned about Climate Ride from a friend in a spin class. She made a donation, but biking wasn’t really her thing, outside of the class.
But then, earlier this year, when she heard about our new run along the Rogue River, she signed up first thing. Her love of the wilderness and her desire to defend it made the choice easy. She’s done a handful of 50 kilometer runs in the past, and she loves running and being out in nature. On top of that, she was excited to get to visit the Rogue River with a group of like-minded people, all doing it for a great cause, and that made it ideal for her or as she puts it “amazing – my perfect trip!”
She was also motivated by a sign in a nature reserve on Vancouver Island, Canada that resonated with her. It said, “We don’t inherit the earth from our grandparents – we borrow it from our children.”
Running to Fight Climate Change
Climate change has been hitting California, where Julie lives, hard. There’s been a series of serious droughts, major fires causing death and devastation, and serious downpours that have exacerbated the aftermath of fire recovery with floods and mudslides. The weather has grown increasingly intense, and in addition to affecting her training for the run, she has seen the impact on the wilderness she loves to visit, especially Yosemite National Park.
Where the water of Mirror Lake used to reflect the sky, the lake is now often dry and would appear to be a field of grass to anyone who didn’t know it. Snowpack is thinning at higher elevations, decreasing the amount of water feeding into the park over the year. Invasive species that thrive in warmer climates are proliferating, and native species of plants are moving into higher, cooler altitudes. The mist trail, which is usually a misty and wet jog, was completely dry when she visited it in the fall of 2018.
With this impact in mind, Julie took some time to read up on the list of Climate Ride beneficiaries and see what they were doing on climate change. She wanted to support the “people working on science so we don’t lose the parks” to effects of the climate catastrophe. She picked out two charities that are focused on the climate fight.
FUNdraising to fight climate change
She chose to raise money for Climate Ride beneficiaries Environmental Defense Fund and the Nature Conservancy because she wanted to tackle the challenge of climate change upstream of its direct effects. She was looking for nonprofits whose work is focused on solutions that have the biggest impact. Both of these organizations are working to green the energy economy, lower pollution from natural gas, foster sustainable land-use and protecting and restoring forests.
For Julie, they were a good fit because “I work in health care for a company with aggressive carbon neutrality, water usage, and waste reduction goals. I am personally a huge advocate of sustainability goals and am well known for my passion for recycling and composting. In fact, I’m a bit of a zealot when it comes to that in the break room.”
That passion for the planet has made the challenge of fundraising easier as her friends, family, and coworkers respect her as an authority on environmental issues. She’s even found that she enjoyed it, though she doesn’t normally like raising money. In part, fundraising felt fun because the issue is “near and dear to peoples’ hearts. Let’s preserve this planet.”
Another surprise with fundraising is how many people took the time to get on board with her whole effort, sending encouraging emails even well after they had donated. Julie took the time to periodically update her supporters and mentioned that she was happy to receive any amount of donation and or energy and enthusiasm. And she gets to talk about the great organizations she is supporting while also telling people about a “super cool thing” she is doing: visiting a place she has always wanted to go and doing it for the planet! To date, she’s already raised $5,000! She’s even sparked up conversations with strangers and acquaintances who ask her to send them her link by the end, so they can contribute.
Training Tips from an Ultra-Runner
Even though Julie used to regularly run ultra marathons, training for the run has been a challenge. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Running helped her get through her cancer treatment, but she decided to cut back on ultras at that time.
Since then, she hasn’t been able to get back into longer runs. Climate Run Rogue River gave her the opportunity to start training again without the added stress of competitive running. This time, the challenge was more personal, to take an opportunity to up her training and help the planet.
At six years cancer free, she felt like it was time to get back to longer runs. And she knew if she didn’t train, the Rogue River run would be grueling. She wants to be able to enjoy her time in the Oregon wilderness, so she’s been putting in the added effort, even when she would rather be sitting in front of the fire reading a book on a drizzly day. California has had a lot more rainy days this fall, and somehow, they all seem to land on her big running days. But she’s been undeterred. She puts her layers on, grabs a wool hat, and gets out there running to be sure she’s ready this May. She started telling her friends “if you want to know when it’s going be raining the hardest, asking me when I go on a long run!”
Since Julie has been a life long runner and used to do ultras, we thought we’d pick her brain for some training tips. Here are her suggestions on getting ready for a longer, multiday run like Rogue River.
- Train enough so you feel confident to cover the distance and it will be fun to go the distance.
- Build up over time, so you have run the longer distances already several times.
- Break it down. Plan to run 6 miles, then 8 miles, then 10, then 12.
- Do a few back to back days, where you run shorter distances, like 6 miles.
Thank you, Julie! Climate Run Rogue River takes place May 10-12, 2019. This once-in-a-lifetime charitable running tour that follows the course of Oregon’s Wild and Scenic Rogue River, one of the great wilderness rivers.