Alechia Van Wyk

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On who you are…

Hello! My name is Al├ęchia van Wyk, I’m 37 years old, South African (born and bred Free State girl), living in London – United Kingdom (UK). I’m the ultimate research geek by day and work as a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology at a small University in the city.


On Running… 

My running journey began in high school when I had to pick a winter sport and cross country seemed to be the easy option on the cards. I was hooked ever since, I have dabbled in short events such as the 200 m all the way through too my first 100 km last year. Running is my escape, my time and my space. That said it is also were I met most of my closest friends. 
On your First Run...

well I can’t remember this but my mum tells the story of when still at kindergarten I (then aged 5) lined up at her school sports day to run a 60 m sprint race and as we were running the race, a little girl in the lane next to me fell, I then stopped to help her up. She ended up beating me in the end. To be fair that has happened a lot since.

On Street culture… 

I’m very lucky and fortunate to have lived and experienced different street cultures all over the world. I’m constantly fascinated by people not scared to express themselves and truly just being true to themselves whilst creating their own successful space. A lot of the active street culture happens in and around the parks and green spaces in London, plus with long summer evenings you are bound to see a runner commuting home with a backpack for company. 

On running culture… 

in the UK is very different from back home in SA. In SA, if you tell your friends you are running a marathon they will ask you if you are trying to qualify for Comrades of the Two Oceans. In the UK if you tell people you are running a marathon, they want to know what charity you are supporting. That said with the growth and development of Parkrun, this is slowly changing and people are realising that you can run for yourself and for fun. I suspect it shocked loads of people when I ran the 100 km just for me! That said the club running scene in the UK is huge and it is not only for the fast ones, it is for everyone. Plus there are lots of different leagues: cross country, track (I even did steeplechase) and a road league. With different age groups represented – everyone is encouraged to take part no matter your ability. It is very inclusive.



On Gadgets… 

as a super geek, I’m a gadget nut. For road and triathlons I use a Garmin 910XT and for trail running I use the Suunto Ambit Sport. Why well although have the same accuracy when it comes to heart rate tracking, the Suunto is a better altitude meter and whilst running the mountain marathons, you would like to know how much you have climbed rather than how far you still need to go.

On Injury… 

I’ve been pretty lucky in my running career. Although that said, I have had a bad spell of DNF’s and DNS’s in 2015, due to self inflicted injuries. I’m pretty clumsy and trip over my own feet, giving me knee niggles.

On Achievements… 

There are loads and every time I go run I achieve something. But the 5 that stand out are running a 10 km with my mom, running the Two Oceans Marathon, running a 100 km non-stop. At the age of 37 taking part in my first ever steeplechase and beating 20 year old's in the 200 m dash.

On future goals… 

my goal for this year is to run a good for age marathon time, this will be 3 hr 30 min. My current PB is 4:09. And then enter the Comrades Marathon, I think I’m ready.

On your social media… 

Social media is a fantastic opportunity for me to share my experiences and memories trough pictures, both close friends and people from around the world. Among other things I share my running experiences on Instagram @alechiavanwyk


On Pink… 

I never use to wear any form of pink clothing, as I saw it as a label of girly weakness. But that changed when I worked with female cancer survivors and what the pink colour symbolised to them, “strong women who survived”. Now I also own a few pink items which I wear with pride, as I have embarrased being a strong women leader.

On Pain… 

This is difficult, as a scientist pain is a perception and we all feel/perceive this very differently. Therefore pain is a difficult thing for me to comment on.

On women’s running… 

As a female runner, it is liberating to see the strides running has made toward becoming more “our” sport. Although running has no age or gender restrictions, it has truly developed into a woman’s sport over the past 40 years. Running simply makes me feel accomplished, strong, and with each run I do, I show myself just how tough I can be and how your body can do anything as long as you have the power to overcome your mind saying you can’t. Female runners are tough. And I’m proud to be one.

When I die…

Daily I try and remember that my life is a message to the world and I have to make sure I’m inspiring.

#RunRevolution


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