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A World O utside After nearly a lifetime of feeling shut in, Shadia Nagati found a path out through running. B y Cate H otchk i ss
Click here: Read a story about an everyday runner who plans to run 7 marathons in 7 days.
On Aug. 18, her 32nd birthday, Shadia Nagati completed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mexico to Canada by fastpacking, a blend of light running and backpacking, over four months—a huge achievement for anyone, but especially for someone who had never done much physical activity until just a few years ago. Someone who, at one point, had lost the will to do anything. “Growing up, I was confined inside a lot,” Nagati says of her childhood in Wichita, Kan. “I had really restrictive parents. They were distrusting of everyone and painted a picture of extreme fear of the outside world. We didn’t do things that normal kids did. We didn’t go camping. We didn’t go on adventures. I wasn’t allowed to play sports even though I wanted to.” After graduating from high school, she attended college for a year, but dropped out after “a really rough time with depression,” she says. She moved to Portland, Ore., where she worked as a bartender and hit the party scene hard. “I went through heavy drug and alcohol use,” she says. “It got really dark. I was suicidal.”
“I’ve learned to live minimally and simply, and I want to apply that to my life.”
Things started to change, however, when in 2012 she met Michele Merchant, a chef and an avid hiker who also had a substance-abuse background. Merchant, who has been sober for 33 years, nurtured Nagati and helped her realize that she didn’t have to self-destruct.
Nagati says she’ll never forget the first time Merchant took her hiking on a crisp fall day in Portland’s Forest Park, a mecca for trail runners, when a runner came flying down the trail. Nagati was inspired by how free he seemed—so she decided to try running. After training for and completing a 5K on the road, she went on her first group trail run in Forest Park with Wy’east Wolfpack, a local running and fitness training company co-founded by ultrarunner Willie McBride, whom Nagati soon hired as her coach. “At that time, Shadia didn’t see herself as an athlete,” McBride says. “She wasn’t confident in her running abilities because >>
9/14/16 2:28 PM
Published on Sep 23, 2016