Sciacchetrail® 2016: Interview with Sally McRae (Nike Trail Elite)

Your second year at Sciacchetrail. What ties you to this race and its territory?

Yes! I am very excited about going back to the CinqueTerre for the second time. It is a great privilege to run in such a beautiful part of the world. Last year was my first time to Italy; and I was overwhelmed by the genuine kindness from Nicola and Christine Godfrey of Cinque Terre Trekking and all the people who gave of themselves (Consorzio InManarola) to bring me to the CinqueTerre. They made me feel like family and even though my trip was only 6 days, it felt like I had been there for years! I fell in love with everything about it. I knew it was going to be a unique experience but I was not expecting it to affect me the way it did. I felt immediately connected to the people; and I was continually in awe of the raw, real beauty of each city. I loved walking through the towns and watching how people interacted with each other; the community is very close and the history is so rich; I felt like I was walking through a storybook. I think people crave the kind of community which seems to define the CinqueTerre; they value their land; the traditions; and each other. I think that’s invaluable.

You are an inspiration to so many in this sport, what are the values in which you believe?

Thank you! I would like to thank of my values as simple. I desire to live a life of love, gratitude and courage. Love all that I have and everyone around me. Gratitude for each and every day; for every opportunity; and for the things that both bless me and challenge me, knowing that they make me stronger. Gratitude for the people who have long been in my life and for the new faces I get to meet all over the world. Courage in all I say and do. Courage to stand up to challenges; courage to embark on the unknown; and courage to live fully every minute of every day.

What makes the difference for you in a race?

Races with unique stories as well as races that are in places I have yet to see make all the difference to me. I am grateful that running has allowed me to see the world from my two feet; and I have been able to run in cities I have dreamed about since I was a young girl. Last year, the race was held on Palm Sunday and I vividly remember climbing out of Manarola right as the church bells started; I looked back at the church- an ancient structure of beauty; and then I turned and looked out to the ocean and what I felt in that moment was indescribable; my eyes filled with tears. I was so grateful to be there in that very moment; in that beauty. I doubt I will ever experience that in another race. It’s things like that, that make all the difference.

Building bridges between people and territories. What is your secret for entering in people’s hearts like what has happened with the community of Manarola and the CinqueTerre?

Yes, I love that: Building Bridges. It is a value I desire to live by. I believe, no matter where we go; or who we meet along the way, we have a choice: to build a bridge of hope and kindness or to go our separate ways. Historically, we see that great things happen when people, groups, and communities come together. Sure there will always be differences and challenges, but the very act of working through those challenges is what makes a bond stronger. I don’t believe I have a secret for entering people’s hearts; I believe my ability to connect with people is something we all have; and I referred to it earlier: Love, Gratitude, and Courage. I love the CinqueTerre and the people who reside there; I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to such a wonderful part of the world; and I plan to race with Courage, with all that is within me to show not only my appreciation for being there; but to communicate the great hope I have for Manarola and the CinqueTerre.

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