About

I’m a 35 year old Canadian human rights lawyer who discovered ultrarunning nine years ago and now my closet is filled with running shoes, rather than high heels!  To steal from one of my favourite running novels, I run to ‘seek the void’ (see here).

DSCF0167The last few years have been rather exciting… After completing a year in Afghanistan with the UN in 2013, I took a job in South Sudan in 2014 assisting people who were displaced by violence, which required me to live in a tent in very basic conditions. That same year, I started a charity called Free to Run, which provides opportunities for women and girls to get involved in sports in conflict-affected communities! We have now been operating for two years in Afghanistan across three different provinces and have a refugee program in Hong Kong.  Recently, I finished two years in Gaza working for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and am now blissfully happy to be based in Geneva, where I’m enjoying being able to access the mountains again.

After almost five years of living in hardship duties stations where my training consisted mainly of running on treadmills, I’m looking forward to seeing where consistent training in the alps will take me! My ultrarunning ‘career‘ has consisted of eight 250 km self-supported footraces, but the 100 miler (or beyond!) is my favourite distance! Tor des Geants, a 330km (24000m+) mountain race in Italy, remains at the core of my heart, and I was lucky enough to complete it in 2015 (shortened course) and 2016.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you’ll stick with me on my next adventure!

Please don’t forget to check out Free to Run!

 


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60 thoughts on “About

    • Thanks, Shannon! Really glad you like the blog – your feedback is totally welcome… Happy reading!

      • G’day, wondering how you are going in Kabul? I’m an Australian (ex-Fed) negotiating with the UN who have asked me to do an evaluation project for them. I have three sons (grown) and an elderly Mum so probably shouldn’t do stuff that is likely to get me killed. Security advisory notices aren’t too cheery so thought it would be good to touch base with someone on the ground. I’d be grateful if you feel inclined to chat back. IWOM (International Woman of Mystery) 🙂

      • Hi there! I’ll send you an email to take this off the public forum – happy to answer an and all questions. Will email shortly x

        >________________________________

  • Hi Stephanie,

    hope youre well.
    i didnt get your email address before we closed up, so drop me a line.
    we’re all good this end and just started looking for work again.
    take care for now,

    alex

    • Can’t believe I didn’t reply to this earlier – I was very touched by your comment! Ha, yes, certainly no lack of zest for life on this end… which sometimes can get the better of me! Hope whatever ‘ultra’ events you have going on in your life (whether running or otherwise) are keeping you busy, happy, and energized 🙂

  • Hi Stephanie,

    I read your fantastic interview in Running Fitness mag and loved your story-so-far. Glad to have found your blog now (somehow I missed the link on the first read of it).

    Hoping to “do” my first ultra next year.

    All the best,
    Matt

    • Hey Matt! How’s the ultra training going? Are you signed up for one this year or have you already completed one? Would love to hear an update!

  • Hey Stephanie,

    I had a question for you. I’ve been training for Desert RATS and lately I have been having issues with the inside of my left knee cap. It has been feeling tender to the touch. Have you ever had that problem? And if so, did you get laid up for a while or adjust your training accordingly? I have 4 weeks until a 50k and 7 weeks until Desert RATS. I’m freaking out because I’m not sure if I should sacrifice more time on my feet by trying to recover and not do anything for a couple weeks (I dropped out of a marathon at mile 22 on April 9th because of my knee hurting), decrease my overall mileage but stay on my feet, or do something else all together. I got a late start with my weight training, but am hoping the weight training will help out my knee and within 7 weeks! Any advice (knowing you are not a physician so I don’t hold you liable) or suggestions on what you would do would really help me out. My morale is dropping at a time when I should be feeling more confident 😦

    • Hey Maya,

      ARG, that is so frustrating! You must be so annoyed – I completely understand. But don’t worry… you’ll get it back!!!

      It is hard for me to say what it might be, BUT you might want to look up patellofemoral syndrome (PFS). It is also commonly called runner’s knee! I got PFS back in 2008 when I was training for Racing The Planet Vietnam. I was experiencing quite a bit of pain around my kneecap and it eventually got so bad I couldn’t run at all anymore. Like you, I was completely freaking out! PFS is basically when your kneecap doesn’t track properly so it starts to irritate the cartilage under the patella. For me, it was due to muscle imbalance issues (which is common in runners). The outside quad muscle (vastus lateralus) was strong than the inside one (vastus medialus or VMO) and so the kneecap was being pulled out of line. My IT bands were also super tight, which wasn’t helping the situation.

      I did go to physio for ultrasound and electric stim, but IF this is what you have you can also try a number of things at home. There are exercises that can strengthen the VMO such as one-legged quarter squats (only go down a little bit, not all the way). You can also try to loosen up the IT bands by getting a foam roller (let me know if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about).

      I also did a lot of deep water running. If you are near a pool, you can do either deep water running with a flotation belt on or shallow water running where your feet actually touch the ground if it doesn’t hurt too much. This will help keep the right ‘running’ muscles engaged during your recovery.

      Do some googling to see if your symptoms fit — but ultimately I would just pop in to see a physio if you can. You don’t want to misdiagnose and then lose potential recovery time.

      You’ve got time!! I’ll be thinking about you and hoping for a very speedy recovery. I know it is tough to think positively, but you’ll get there!! Will you keep me posted? Feel free to reach out anytime.

      Ultra Runner Girl

  • Hey Stephanie,

    I just wanted to say that I think your blog is awesome and I love that you are such a good runner but still have fun with it!

    I’ve just entered my first ultra (50 miles) which will be August this year – I’m really nervous/excited but actually enjoying the training (am I mental?!)

    Looking forward to hearing your updates – they are really inspirational!

    Mike.

    • Hi Mike!! Thanks for following! Hey, and congrats on entering your first ultra – woot woot!!! The answer is yes, you are mental, but in great company 😀 Keep me posting on how your training is going. I would love to hear any suggestions for blog topics. Any burning questions as you get your feet wet in the ultra world? Thanks again!

  • Hey.
    What was supposed to be a quick squizz at your blog has resulted in an hour’s reading: travelling with you, running with you, sharing in the pain, joy and happiness that oozes from your writings. Most of all the happiness. It is tangible. Thanks for sharing that with the rest of the world.

    • Thanks so much for your message!! I’m really glad you like my blog. Especially now, living in Afghanistan, it helps to know that people out there are reading it!! x

  • Really enjoying your blog Stephanie. I met your folks last night at a Queen’s Alumni function and they mentioned your passion for running and world travel. You are an inspiration! Also – Happy Birthday!

  • Hey Stephanie,

    I was living in Vancouver the past 3 years and knew your brother Ben, which is how I got to your blog. Every time I look a little farther into the ultra world, the circles seem to get smaller and smaller – I hung out with your coach Ray for a little bit as he was running the West Coast Trail a few years ago. I’ve been following Jill Homer for awhile, who ran in Racing the Planet Nepal, and is signed up for UTMB as well… I just thought it was funny how many connections I made even on the first page of your blog.
    Anyways – it sounds like you are doing incredible things, both running and in Afghanistan. The blog is great to read as well. Keep up the good work.

  • Hey Stephanie,

    I stumbled across your blog after doing a search for female ultra runners and I have truly enjoyed your posts and videos. I am a beginner in the distance arena (only one marathon and at least fifty 5k races under my belt) but I am training for one half and two full marathons this year in prep for an ultra early next year. Your drive as a runner and the adventures you blog about are motivational. RaceTheWorld is in my future thanks to you! By the way, I’m a tad jealous that you are geographically closer to my husband than I am. I understand you are in Kabul, he is deployed west of Kandahar. Stay safe and thanks!

  • Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for the not-so-short-version. It is truly inspiring. I am preparing for Kili, maybe there is hope for me to run an ultra one day (-:

    Cheers!
    Doreen

  • Hi Stephanie,
    Like your blog … running my first multi day in Nepal, Manaslu mountain foot race, in November ..then the Gobi March next June, was actually toying with the G2G after the Gobi which is how I came about your site so looking forward to your account of the race :-)..
    Have a trail group in Dubai so if you ever passing the sand pit itself let me know and I’d love to show you some of what Dubai has to offer Trail wise …hope the UTMB was awesome 🙂

    LEE 🙂

  • Hi Stephanie:

    Love your blog! I am a long distance runner myself– and I have been pondering trying out an ultramarathon for a few years now. I know I just need to sign up and do one and try it out instead of thinking about it any longer!

    I am also a freelance writer and I am interested in writing an article on your ultramarathon experiences thus far. If you’re interested in being interviewed via email for this article- I would love to hear from you.

    Happy Holidays!

    -Stacey

    • Hi Stacey! Happy holidays to you too 🙂 Thanks for getting in touch. I love that you are thinking about your first ultra… I may be biased, but I think you should just sign up for one and jump in! Happy to talk through any potential race ideas if you’d like! I would be happy to do an interview, thanks for asking. Email me at stephanie.case@yahoo.com and we’ll take it from there. Cheers!
      Steph

  • Hi Stephanie.

    I just read about you in the Queen’s Alumni Review. I’m really interested in profiling you for Kingston Life magazine where I write a column on sports called Home Game. I have a special interest in both endurance sports (I’m a greybeard, soon to be 64, who cycled from Kingston to Newfoundland last summer) and human/rights and social justice (my book, A Year of Living Generously, concerns these subjects). And I’m especially interested in furthering the education of women who have been denied that right.

    I see you are back in New York some time in March? Or are you off to another race? It may be that we’ll have to conduct the interview via e-mail. Are you up for that?

    All best,

    Lawrence Scanlan
    Kingston

    • Hey Lawrence! Good to hear from you! I’d be happy to do an interview by email… I will also be back in good ol’ K-town in mid-April if you’d like to meet in person then 🙂 Perhaps we can do both! Maybe we could go out for a jog or a cycle?! I’ll look up your book – sounds incredibly interesting. Let’s chat! My email is stephanie.case@yahoo.com

  • Hi Stephanie,

    I just discovered your blog and have enjoyed catching up on your adventures.
    I am also a Queen’s alum and spent a few years in K-town.
    Currently I work in Kazakhstan and my wife and I will be visiting Kyrgyzstan in a couple of weeks.
    Cheers,
    Peter

  • Stephanie,
    I came across your blog as part of my ‘literature-review’ for the TDS race that I’m doing in August. I do plan some actual training as well…
    Having enjoyed your report I was then surprised to see not just a casual mention of Kyrgyzstan but that you’re actually living there – Kyrgyzstan is not a country you read much about.
    My (very) random link to the country is that I am the proud owner of the official (and only) Kyrgyzstan placard from the London Olympics opening ceremony. Since I got it my interest in the country has increased significantly, as well as my ability to spell it (having a 1m wide sign of it helps).
    My favourite Kyrgyzstan factoid is that it is further from the sea than any other country.
    Colin

  • I just stumbled accross your blog (currently googleing insanely less than 48hours before my first trail 125km ultra. Terrified.) and reading has brought on insane inspiration and suprisingly calmness.. race on 🙂

  • Hi! Are you still planning to support Racing the Planet even after what happened to Turia Pitt? It seems the only way to bring them to justice is to actually boycott their races. They have made an amazing amount of money and in the process completely destroyed someone’s life with no accountability. I couldn’t have a conscious to continue racing with them if I was you.

  • Hello Stephanie! I work for a Venice Beach “mom and pop” fitness company. What is the best way to contact you for a product review? I will send you details in the email. Thank you for your time! 🙂

  • So my question is, was the sesamoidectomy worth it? Are things better with it or do you think you shouldn’t have done it? I am toying with getting it done myself.. I am an ultra-runner… Did 35 races in 2013 and 2014 was supposed to be even more! BUT… I am in a holding pattern because of the sesamoid problems for the last 6 months… I ran with the pain up to the point where I couldn’t do ultras anymore… Marathons are about as long as I can go without a lot of foot pain… I may just have the sesamoidectomy done but want to make sure if I do that it wont make things worse….

    Thanks in advance… Greg

    • It’s a tough one for sure. I didn’t have a choice because we didn’t even know I had a problem with my sesamoid until the surgeon got in there… And once he saw what was going on, there weren’t really other options. I think in general the rule is to avoid a sesamoidectomy at all costs if you can. Try using padding to take pressure off the sesamoid (your podiatrist should be able to guide you!). Removing the sesamoid really changes your balance and the whole mechanics of the way you walk/run. I still have biomechanical issues for this reason and always will, but I’m happy to say the pain is so much better!! I’ve heard the opposite from others though. Shop around for a good surgeon if you do decide to do it… But get multiple opinions first 🙂 hope this helps and keep me posted!

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  • I love your blog! I am an avid runner myself, which is what led me to it, however, I am very interested in your human rights work. I graduated law school in 2010 and since then I’ve been practicing employment law in the U.S. However, I am interested in international human rights work. How did you get into this field? Any advice for someone who wants to break into it? Feel free to email me to continue the conversation.

  • Incredibly happy to give you a little shout-out for the blog contest! You are amazing : )

    Sisu: “I am excited to nominate Stephanie Case aka the Ultra Runner Girl! Had I not been born Emilia Lahti, I would want to be this badass goddess of endurance sports (who is inspiring as hell and also writes like a boss). Good luck, lady! Love your blog : )

    https://ultrarunnergirl.com/

    -Cheers,
    A new excited ultra runner in the making ❤

  • Wow! I have been spending some time on your blog lately and I just noticed the about page… I had no clue what a fulfilling life you’re living!
    I’ve never dreaded running myself, but I think I understand how climbing hooked you to adrenaline! Oh, I hope that one day I’ll have the opportunity to climb mountains like Kilimanjaro, it’s definitely near the top of my bucket list.
    It’s an amazing story how you got into running! Looking forward to read more about your adventures!

    • Thanks Sandra!! Sorry for the delayed reply. Kili is great fun and a good mountain to start with. I have a friend climbing Denali right now… but I have a feeling it is quite a bit tougher! I’d love to do Aconcagua someday…

  • Hi Stephanie,

    I recently discovered your blog and I’m very interested in humanitarian fieldwork as a possible career. I know you’re very busy, but is it possible for you to tell me a little bit about your background education & work experience? How did you get where you are today? Do you have any tips for people looking to go into this type of work? Anything would be really helpful.

    Thank you.

  • Hey Stephanie, I discovered your blog a while ago, and I just can’t stop going through your old posts as you haven’t blogged in a while. Just wanted to say hi, you seem like an awesome person and are one of my newly discovered inspirational people! 🙂
    Hope you’re having a great time in Mingkamman!

    • Hi Sarah!! All is well in the Mingk, but I’m looking forward to a break for sure! I’m so glad if the blog can provide some entertainment. Are you a runner? What adventures do you have in store? 🙂

  • Hi,

    I ended up on your blog randomly and got so inspired!
    My dream has always been to one day run the UTMB and I’ve started off my training towards an ultra trail with marathon running. Unfortunately after some stress fractures in the hips and knees I’ve had to put my training aside for a while, but after having read your post about UTMB I’ve decided that I’ll one day make it!
    Good luck and keep it up!

    • That’s awesome! Definitely start working on races that will get you points to qualify for entry… UTMB is so popular these days that it often takes a number of tries to get in. Keep me posted! I can empathize with the stress fractures. I was riddled with stress fractures in my tibia, feet and pelvis (very painful!) the first two years of running. But I’m happy to say that my body seems to have toughened up (or I got smarter with training!). Knock on wood, right?

  • Hi,

    just found your blog when seeking information about the UTMB…congrats on the result! I wish the race would be longer so we would have a longer story to read as it is written perfectly 🙂 Thanks for sharing and looking forward to discovering new stories on your blog soon. Greetings from Slovenia!

    Tadej

      • Hi! UTMB is on my bucket list, a lot of training to be done…I hope in 2-3 years I will challenge myself with CCC and go from there. If you ever do come to Slovenia let me know as I would be happy to show you and your friends around. Br, Tadej

  • Hey ,

    Great work on where your come , just enquiring what sort of nutritional plan your on , I have a plan you might be interested in from a fitness point of view or business view , just send on a through an email 🙂

  • Hello Ultra Runner Girl, I am an official follower! Had a blast in Zanzibar with you both and can’t wait to ready about your next adventures!!

  • I have just recently found your blog and I am so excited! I am 26 and an aspiring social justice lawyer/ultra runner. You’re proof my dreams are doable!

  • Hi! I’m 26 year old Canadian woman about to start law school, tomorrow. In future I would like to do similar work to what you describe here in your blog. Do you have any advice, which courses to take, avenues to try?

    I appreciate any advice you can give me, thank you!

    • Hi there! Good luck with law school -it’s a tough journey, but definitely worth it in the end. Where are you studying? Getting into human rights/international work is tough, but just take every opportunity you can get in law school to do pro bono, volunteer, and get exposed to international legal issues. Law of armed conflict, international human rights, even domestic charter classes are great. Depending on what kind of international work you want to do, it can really help to have a strong basis in domestic law!

  • Hi – I found your blog while in despair from my DNF yesterday at the UTMB – and your inspirational writing has put a smile back on my face! Your UTMB race description reminded me everyone suffers; and your work in South Sudan put it all in perspective. I’m moving on from despair to re-collecting those qualification points and heading back to Chamonix for my second attempt…if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, right? 🙂

    Sam

    • Hi Sam! Oh I’m so glad. But hey, it isn’t a DNF when you’re talking about UTMB… it is DFS (Did Frickin’ Start!) and a training run for next year! Honestly, when I ran UTMB for the first time in 2012, I was upset at first when they shortened the course… however, halfway through I was thanking my lucky stars. There was NO way I would have been able to finish the first year if it had been the full course! When I returned in 2013, I was WAY more physically and mentally ready. You will be too! Don’t give up. You’ll make it 🙂

  • That’s an amazing story!!! From non-runner who despised running to ultra runner BOSS LADY!!! That’s inspiring stuff … truly!!! 🙂

  • Hey! Found your blog because I was looking for ultra. I can’t have enough about running (except when the body says no, like now) and thinking about switching from marathon to ultratrails. I need nature again, and my dream would be to run UTMB. Maybe in 2018 – God, that’s long. I can’t wait to discover the rest of your blog. The “about” page makes me want to read more.
    So sad that we only have flat here in Berlin!
    xx
    Oriane

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