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At a youthful 30, Dora Atim has become a trailblazer in the ultrarunning realm. She transcends conventional labels, embodying a spirit of transformation and inspiration that sets her apart as a modern-day hero. Her courage in addressing often-ignored issues within sports makes her a powerful advocate for marginalized voices, particularly in the realm of athletics.
Hailing from London, Dora Atim initiated Ultra Black Running in 2020 during the midst of the pandemic. This innovative initiative serves as both a virtual and physical haven where black women and non-binary individuals converge to foster a sense of community while indulging in the joys of trail running. It’s not about competing for speed or podium finishes, nor is it about conquering monumental feats; it’s about savoring the outdoors, feeling secure, and embarking on thrilling adventures.
In a recent collaboration with CamelBak, Atim and a group of London-based runners embarked on an exciting journey to Chamonix, France, to partake in the prestigious Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. They took on the challenging ETC race in Courmayeur, Italy—an arduous course spanning 15 kilometers with a 1,200-meter ascent (equivalent to 9.3 miles and nearly 4,000 feet of climbing). Atim described the experience as exhilarating: “The race was a thrill, full of fun and camaraderie. UTMB is known for its serious atmosphere, but we brought a different spirit. We faced challenges together and celebrated our victories as a united front.”
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Even in the darkest moments on the trail, they found solace in laughter and a profound sense of togetherness. This stark contrast to their urban London environment, devoid of mountains, allowed them to appreciate the privilege of exploring these natural wonders and relishing their achievements, adorned with their hard-earned medals as they explored Chamonix.
Furthermore, Atim and her fellow members of Ultra Black Running had the opportunity to engage in a panel discussion alongside esteemed CamelBak athletes, including Sally McRae, Sage Canaday, Harry Jones, and Scotty Hawker. Together, they delved into the challenges within ultrarunning, strategies for nurturing the sport’s growth and broadening the horizons of the running community. Atim spoke highly of the event, stating, “It was an excellent opportunity for collaboration, where we discussed building communities, creating safe spaces, and exploring how brands can support grassroots initiatives by offering unique experiences.”
In addition to her collaboration with Nike, Atim’s experience at UTMB reignited her sense of inspiration and optimism. She underscored the significance of collaboration, active listening, and unity as catalysts for progress within the running community.
In a world where success is often rushed and measured by checkboxes, Atim advocates for a more organic approach. She firmly believes that the right things fall into place at the right time, emphasizing the importance of passion and patience. Initially conceived as a small gathering of friends, Ultra Black Running organically blossomed as others were drawn to Atim’s vision, forming a community of black women and non-binary individuals eager to explore the outdoors through running.
Looking ahead, Atim is determined to create even more opportunities and empower future leaders, coaches, and trainers within her community. Her ultimate goal is to step back and allow the community to take the reins, acknowledging that Ultra Black Running is not solely her creation—it belongs to all those who have invested their hearts and souls into it each day.
Expressing gratitude to CamelBak and Nike, Atim encourages other brands to support grassroots initiatives, even if they are not considered mainstream or well-established. She envisions a promising future for her community, with hopes of witnessing further growth and inviting more individuals to experience the transformative power of dedicating oneself to a meaningful endeavor.
With unyielding determination, Dora Atim and the Ultra Black Running crew are poised to return to UTMB next year, with aspirations of doubling their numbers. Her message is resounding: When you pour your heart and soul into something you’re passionate about, it may be exhausting, but the rewards are immeasurable. Atim’s journey has left her replenished and reinvigorated, a sentiment she hadn’t experienced in a very long time.