marie hope

Marie is a single mother of two teenagers, Niki and Danny, and owner of a popular tea and gift shoppe, 'A Taste of Britain' in Devon, Pennsylvania.
Born in the UK, Marie started endurance training while living in Bermuda and continues to inspire many with her dedication and loving, generous heart.

Exercise has been a cornerstone of my physical, mental, and spiritual health for many years now. Having suffered from chronic depression since childhood, it was a miracle to me when in my early 20’s I was able to discipline myself to run. Since that point, I learned a number of important lessons that have stayed with me on this 20-year life journey.

I learned that progress in anything comes from having a vision and then taking the first step. Within 18 months of taking my first running steps I was running a 26.2-mile marathon. The confidence I gained from this was amazing; it was a healing point in my life, the realization that I had the ability to do something that had appeared so very difficult and out of my league.

Strenuous exercise releases endorphins into the bloodstream and creates a sense of well-being. I now had a healing bridge to a natural antidepressant. Since then, I have always had at my fingertips {or should I say at my toe tips} a mood-improving tool. This to someone who had hitherto felt at the mercy of difficult moods and depression was incredibly empowering.

The body is a miracle, just by increasing distance and intensity, a tiny bit each time; it strengthens muscles, fortifies heart and lung capacity, and increases blood supply. A couch potato's body can be transformed into a trained athlete’s body incredibly quickly.

It is life affirming and healing to develop strength. I have found the same techniques I used to build physical strength can be used to develop mental and emotional muscle. When my body stretches and pumps to get up a difficult hill my mind is learning that effort equals strength.

Endurance exercise has helped me learn the psychospiritual lesson of hanging out with pain and discomfort until the miracle happens. It is almost always the first 30 minutes of hard exercise that are the most difficult. I have found that having gone through this threshold, a whole arena of experience and altered states become available. This is the runner’s high, getting your second wind, experiencing the feeling that your body mind and spirit are one; there is no more resistance.

My relationship with endurance sports has carried me through many ups and downs. It has been a healing source of hope, of inspiration, of transformation, but mainly it has been an anchor. Something I can take with me anywhere, a constant positive source of personal identity. An athlete is a part of who I am and I know it will always be with me.

Through the past 20 years I have run a number of marathons and triathlons. This year for the first time I am attempting a long-distance swim, an open ocean 6.2-mile (10 kilometre) swim in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is my honor to dedicate this effort to The Healing Bridge Project.