During 2019, 47-year old Tabatha Collins aimed to set a new Guinness World Record for “Most Ultras Run in One Year by a Female.”
Part of her inspiration came from her love of running. Another bigger inspiration was the loss of her older brother Todd, who died because of a drug and alcohol overdose in 2007. Mental health issues were at the root of his overdose. New Year’s Day 2019 would have been his 52nd birthday, hence her objective was to run 52 ultras during the year.
Tabatha successfully completed all 52 ultras though she has yet to file the paperwork with Guinness.
“I still have to send the information to Guinness. I have begun this process now but requires quite a bit of documentation including video/photo evidence, a witness form for each race, a form from each race director, plus various other requirements.”
Tabatha felt like each race was a challenge she just had to get through.
“I’m still processing the experience.”
“This project definitely exceeded my expectations, and pushed me to my outer limits. I’m not sure if I could do it again. It feels like a huge whirlwind.”
“The people I formed new relationships with during 2019 and some that I may have even just briefly met were a huge takeaway for me. There are so many inspirational and amazing human beings in this world. I enjoyed all the stories. There were so many!
“Also, the support given to me by a few close friends and my local running group, The Evergreen Turtle Rockets helped me to stay motivated.”
To complicate the project (imagine doing an ultra nearly every weekend for a year!), she had her fair share of “life happening” including a divorce, a teaching new job in September, managing new rental property, and sending two daughters off to college.
She’s scheduled to run the Boston Marathon on April 20, but because of the back injury she’s not sure what the immediate future holds. She had been planning to qualify for Boston 2021 at this year’s race, but at the moment her doctor advised her to stop all running and exercise.
“The diagnosis has definitely been affecting my own mental health lately, and verifies how important exercise is for our overall well being.”
“I’d like to get back to trails and more mountain adventures as soon as I am able.”
Amen, sister Tabatha.
Although her 52 ultras project is done, her mission to raise awareness about mental health continues. Tabatha also has another brother named Ty who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In his case, Kitsap Mental Health has provided daily support to him for more than twenty years.
And, sadly, she’s experienced mental health tragedy within her social network. Her good friend Mary, with whom she did ~20 of the 2019 ultras, lost her son due to suicide at the end of 2018. Running with Tabatha was therapeutic for Mary, and helped her heal. Tabatha says their finish at Badger was the most memorable moment of the year because they had to keep encouraging one another to get to the finish line.
Truth: we are all touched by mental health issues in one way or another.
Tabatha continues to raise awareness about that organization and hopes that her efforts can raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues in our communities. She is collaborating with Kitsap Mental Health on some potential ideas including a Bremerton Marathon, and working with her son to produce a short documentary.