Empowering Representation through The Speed Project Adventures

I hope sharing this journey will inspire others and highlight the diversity and strength within the running community. The aim of this is about highlighting stories of women breaking barriers, overcoming challenges, and pushing their limits while promoting inclusivity and empowerment. By sharing these narratives, the goal is to foster a more inclusive community and bring a sense of ‘belonging’ within the running world and beyond.

“If you don’t separate yourself from your distractions, your distractions will separate you from your goals and the life you want”

This is the story of six women who took on a 340-mile relay race from Santa Monica in LA to Las Vegas. It is an unsupported, unsanctioned, no-rules, no-route relay race created by the amazing Nils Arend. The team is London Sole Sisters.

Race information
Name: The Speed Project
Date: 29th March 2024
Distance: 340 miles (approximately)
Location: LA to LV
Instragram: The Speed Project

The Speed Project’s average runner is in their mid-twenties and this is another reason why we wanted to challenge the status quo. These types of challenges usually include limited representation, unequal access to resources and opportunities, as well as stereotypes that may hinder participation. We want to challenge and change that and whilst we all have unique personal reasons for wanting to do this madness, collectively that is our mission. Gratefully, over the years, The Speed Project is one event that is growing positively in this area and London Sole Sisters wanted to be a part of this and contribute to its growth.

The team travelled to LA in the last week of March to give us time to settle in, acclimatise and get all the small stuff done and organised. You would be surprised about how much organising needs to be done for a race that takes place over a few days. Preparing for a race event like this involved meticulous planning and coordination which started many months before race day. Beyond the physical aspects of the race itself, there's a myriad of logistical details that need attention. Here are some of the tasks that needed coordinating:

- Travel and accommodation
- Registration and documentation including life insurance for emergencies that could require being airlifted to the hospital
- Equipment setup including all the necessary equipment for the race, vehicles, tools, safety gear, technology etc.
- Team briefing which includes pre-race meetings (weekly whilst in the UK), looking and discussing the route and segment running logistics, roles and responsibilities, strategy (inc back up strategy), safety protocol and any last-minute updates or changes
- Course familiarisation especially for the crew and drivers
- Fundraising was a huge task and needed everyone to pull together and ask for help
- Media includes trying to document our journey to our audience so that they can see what we are up to and further encourage and support us near or far
- Emergency preparedness includes developing contingency plans and protocols for handling emergencies which may consist of weather conditions or technical failures
- Post-event includes planning a debrief session to evaluate our performance, identify areas for improvement and any feedback from the team
- Training plan, let’s not forget this. This may be the last on the list but was always first on our mind.

Preparing for the race involved a lot of behind-the-scenes work. From logistics to team coordination, every detail counted to ensure a smooth event. Arriving in the US a few days ahead of the race gave us valuable time to address tasks and ensure that things were in place for a successful event.
Experience settling in and acclimatising in the US

We stayed in an Airbnb in OC. Orange County's proximity to LA helped with the commute, especially compared to longer distances in other cities. It meant that we were not too far from LA and could still access LA easily when we needed to be there. Timing and navigating traffic was crucial and we managed it well. My overall experience of adjusting to the pace and rhythm of LA/OC compared to London wasn't too bad. OC is a lovely quiet community which had pretty much everything we needed.

Maintaining proper nutrition and hydration is key, especially in the final 24 hours before a race. It was great that the weather forecast looks manageable for running, even with some rain predicted. You already know I don’t mind running in the rain. I live in London! With the support of our Camino Ultra coaches, we have also been preparing mentally for the race. The coaches recommended Danny Greeves, an award-winning behavioural change expert and non-verbal communication specialist. Unfortunately with so much going on, this was not a resource I tapped into.

Starting the race in Santa Monica was quite an experience! The pre-race atmosphere was truly electrifying, with excitement and joy filling the air. Experiencing it first-hand was a magical moment, quite different from just seeing it on social media. Being immersed in that vibrant atmosphere already started having a positive impact on my mindset and approach to the race. I already felt like a winner just by being on the start line.

However, the nerves started to set in as the clock got closer to that start time. The niggling thoughts started…will my watch work to navigate? Will I get lost? Will I get good GPS reception? Have I packed everything I need for this part of the leg? You name it, it crossed my mind!

It's completely understandable for nerves to kick in with so many variables to consider, especially when relying on technology like your watch for navigation and GPS reception. Double-checking everything you've packed and mentally preparing for each part of the leg is a smart approach to ensure a smooth race experience. I somehow managed to calm my nerves and focus on the task at hand amidst all these thoughts swirling in my mind. I must admit I am very good at talking to myself and staying calm. I would hate for my fears and anxiety to ever make other people start to question themselves, so I usually act quickly and think positively in all situations. I mean what is the worst that can happen even if I did get lost for a bit? Saying that I did as my GPS started to do its own thing on my second run! But you know what, I didn't panic, I carried on moving and eventually (I mean after running about an additional 1.5km), I headed in the right direction and caught up with the SUV for the next person to run. It's all part of the fun, right?

What did training look like leading up to the race?

The training was probably the most interesting part for me. I've done varying ultra-distances but how do you prepare for a relay such as this? We were blessed to have Camino Ultra as our coach which was super helpful. I've never run a relay like this, let alone dealing with desert heat and cold nights and a sleep-deprivation schedule!

We did a ton of hard trails since parts of the race were off-road, group long runs, and I started to get back into speed work and interval training. It was adding in speed work that gave me the boost I think I needed. We met weekly at Paddington Recreation Ground. We used a combination of the training plan from Camino Ultra and also the ones sent weekly by TSP themselves.
Please refer to my training blog recap here from:

The race✨️
How do you even begin to plan the logistics for this?

There aren't any rules for how you had to run segments or divide mileage, other than you couldn't run on the interstate (which is illegal) and someone had to be running it the whole time. The course map took roads (surface streets) out of LA for the first part, and had several segments on the desert trail where a runner had to run unsupported (unpaved with no support vehicle) that we ended up running in the middle of the night, and took old side roads through Death Valley and the Mojave all the way to Las Vegas.

Without giving too much away as everyone's experience of this will be so different, the team was broken down into pods and within each pod you had a short distance to complete before handing it over to the next person. Once that pod has completed their distance they hand the baton to the next pod. This in turn means recovery for that pod most likely in the RV where they had access to food, nutrition, and recovery aids e.g. massage guns, compression boots, sleep etc. We did this on rotation for the first day and then changed the tactic on the 2nd day by reducing the mileage covered by each person in the hope of more speed work to cover a larger distance. We had a support car trailing runners closely to swap and a support RV further back for runners to eat/rest.
Well, just one more thing here, unfortunately after a team meeting on 31st March mid-day looking at the mileage we had covered at this point and the distance we still had to go which was 108; we collectively decided that we would drive 10 miles from Vegas and run the rest as we calculated it would still have taken us at least another 24+ hours to complete. With runner and crew safety in mind, it was the right call. We also wanted to celebrate our achievement with the rest of the TSP community at the pool party and other social meet-ups after the race.
Prioritising the support and well-being of the team was important in fostering a positive and empowering environment where everyone can thrive. This is #number 1 for Gloria and I.

What was the schedule like for the actual race—running?✨️

Our team consisted of 6 runners, all women and lucky enough to also have an all-women crew (5). The crew took turns and shifts in driving, navigation, photography, motivation, preparing meals and general support and guidance.

Runners and crew out for a gentle run

Our strategy was to run the initial road segments in 5Ks, place our stronger trail runners on the longer unsupported desert trails (which were about 7-10 miles), and as the race went on cut the road segments down to 2 miles and then 7-8 minutes speed running segments. In hindsight, we could have reduced the initial distances which could have helped us travel further on the first day. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I am always up for good reflection and learning because how else do we progress.
In between running - chilling in the SUV

There are no rules. Your team can plan the run as you feel and amend as you go along.
The finish line


TSP provides you with more than enough nutrition (carbs and electrolytes) gels and drink powders. We used those mostly during the running sets. In between it was whatever your stomach would take down.
Everyone had their own nutrition which they had used during training so this was very individualised. Apart from that, it was all about eating real food like smashed avocado on bagels (one of my favourites).

Plane food is not for me. The photos below were my meal selection on the way to LA. Not to be ungrateful but I am a fussy eater and I have to smell everything. The colour of my food is also a big deal. I love holidays but I don't love long haul flights. I absolutely had to try and force myself to sleep. Flight from Heathrow to LA was 10.5 hours yikes! Long flights can be tough, especially for picky eaters! I will definitely bring some snacks and pre-packed meals next time. Fortunately, I wasn’t hungry. The dessert and the crackers and cheese was yummy! The return flight was easier as it was a night flight so naturally you want and find it easier to fall asleep. Albeit, not your best sleep.

I ate the desert, a little rice, the crackers and cheese and the bread 😃

In terms of food after the event, it was mainly fast food and I couldn't wait to get home for some home cooked meals! I almost felt like I wasn't eating enough but also couldn't eat. It was a strange feeling. Best believe that I have made up for that since getting home. I haven't stopped eating and currently eating! Clearly my body was yearning for some something familiar and nutritious.

Know your “why” – The motivation✨️

In all major decisions, there has to be a “why?” I had to know what that “why” was before I could truly commit myself to this goal of training for an unsanctioned no spectator event. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out.

My approach to embracing challenges and opportunities with a 'yes' is something that I employed a few years ago. This mindset has led to personal growth and it pushes me outside of my comfort zone whilst allowing me to discover my true capabilities. I am ambitious and if you know me just a little bit you will know that I have the traits to pursue ambitious goals, cause why not?

I am somebody who will say yes to a challenge or opportunity and decide the ‘how’ later. I am at a stage in my life and running journey where I want to push my limits whilst supporting and encouraging other people to move and get active to a healthier way of living because we all want to be healthy and happy, right?!”

I never thought of myself as a tough person, and I've never kicked anyone's ass, but apparently, I'm the type of person who can look at a mile and think - YEAH, I CAN KEEP ON GOING.

I truly believe in the saying :

How you think affects how you perform:

Negative input = Negative output
Positive input = Positive output

The Speed Project is a race but ultimately it is also about the journey for us as London Sole Sisters and the awareness we would like to bring about under-representation in the outdoors especially as we get older. We are strong and fearless and we want other black women out there to feel inspired and go out there and know that they too belong in spaces like this. Ultimately motivating other women like us to show up in spaces like this is our aim as a collective.

Have a mantra/affirmation✨️

I honestly would recommend several, but at least one will do. During the past year as I was training, and as the training started becoming longer and more intense, there would be reaffirming messages I would say to myself. I would say them out loud while I was running. As I am not the fastest runner, people driving by during my outdoor runs undoubtedly saw me talking to myself or sometimes singing to myself. They both work! Try it and see! Positive affirmations help you feel good whilst running and they help you achieve your goal faster. If you change how you think about something you will enjoy it more and the outcome will be positive. It is all about activating the powers of your subconscious mind.

I repeat these mantras or affirmations often, especially during the early morning runs.

- The further you travel now, the closer you are to your goal
- You chose to do this, so let’s go!
- Strong mind, strong body
- I am dedicated and determined
- I appreciate what my body can do
- I will finish this run with joy and gratitude

The Highlights and lowlights✨️

Tackling The Speed Project is our first challenge, but I have big hopes and dreams for the future so please look out for us. We hope to support another underrepresented group and assist them in their quest to take part in the next race/challenge in the following year. The feeling of being seen is a feeling of hope and we want to inspire other women to take on a new challenge regardless of fear.

By aiming to support another underrepresented group in their journey to participate in future races or challenges, we are not only expanding opportunities but also fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment within the community. Visibility and representation are crucial for inspiring others to step outside their comfort zones and pursue their passions, regardless of any fears or doubts they may have.

I am dedicated to creating a supportive and inclusive environment where women feel encouraged to embrace new challenges. It is through initiatives like these that barriers are broken down, stereotypes are challenged, and new possibilities are realised.

As we continue on this journey, I know that we are not just racing against the clock but also paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse future in the world of sports and beyond. Keep pushing boundaries, advocating for change, and inspiring others to join us on this empowering journey.


- Proud of what the team achieved in terms of getting to the start line and the representation that we brought to TSP as a collective

- Running 232 miles is no mean feat. I think it is a remarkable achievement which requires dedication, teamwork and endurance. It is also a testament to our dedication and resilience.

- Managing the logistics of the race on this scale was quite an undertaking but one I enjoyed supporting our team captain, Gloria.

- The TSP community ✨️GOLDEN✨️. The most incredible beings! ✨️✨️

- On an early morning run around 5am, getting dressed in the dark and setting off with Gloria. This particular terrain was rocky so was a run/walk all the way in darkness until sunrise.  Kept getting stones in my shoes and just thought.. arrrhhhh. Come to realise when the sun came out that my right shoes was not my 'right' shoe and it belonged to Iyabo!!! 😂😂😂

- Celebrating our achievement and the amazing thing our body accomplished during this journey - “Age ain't nothing but a number” – REIP Aaliyah.

- Completing the run on what would have been my mum's 64th birthday. Happy Heavenly birthday mum 💓 31st March 💓


- Of course, I am gutted that we did not run the whole 340 miles as that was the goal.

- I know life can be life'ing sometimes. I could probably have run faster too and will do more speed work in the future. Speed work will boost my performance and adaptability for the future. Watch this space!

- Frustratingly, my phone did not work during the race so I didn't share my journey on social media which I would have loved to document more. I will continue to share my experience retrospectively through my blogs (hope you have enjoyed reading this far. You have come a long way, so I hope so!)

- Team dynamics can impact the overall experience, especially in challenging situations like running an ultra-relay through the desert. It can be tough when the energy doesn't match your expectations.

Celebrating the highlights allows me to savour the positive moments and create lasting memories, while learning from the lows provides valuable insights for growth and improvement. It's all about finding the balance between appreciating what went well and reflecting on what could be done differently in the future.

The infamous Las Vegas!!✨️

Ah, the infamous Pool Party in Vegas! Indeed, what happens there often becomes legendary tales whispered amongst friends. It's a place where inhibitions may fade, and memories are made. It truly is. Never in my wildest dreams would I have predicted being in Vegas. I have never been to the US, what a way to enter! Whether it's lounging by the pool with a cocktail in hand, dancing to the beats of the DJ, or engaging in some friendly competition in the water, there's no shortage of excitement and entertainment.

So, while the specifics of the Pool Party may remain shrouded in secrecy, the memories created and the bonds formed during such escapades often become cherished treasures among those who partake. After all, sometimes the best stories are the ones left untold, shared only among those who were there to witness the magic first-hand. I can say that we have made some incredible friendships from around the world who we will be keeping in touch with, maybe even a few other crazy adventures.

The allure of Vegas lies in its promise of indulgence and escapism, where people come to let loose and embrace the spirit of spontaneity. And as the saying goes, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," implying a code of confidentiality that adds to the mystique of the experience.

 Let’s just say it was an eyes-wide open experience but I truly loved the joy it brings. Vegas is a place full of joy and happiness. You cannot go a day without smiling or bursting out laughing like Gloria and I did many times! Just writing this now is making me laugh, believe it or not, lol. Great memories!

Working collectively as a team is fundamental to achieving success in any project. It is also important that the team share your vision and values if you are to have a successful outcome. I know I work hard and put everything I can into any challenge I commit myself to. I am not afraid of grafting or hard work and anyone I work closely with must have the same work ethic. A shared vision provides clarity and direction, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives. When team members align on values such as integrity, accountability, and dedication, it creates a cohesive team culture built on trust and mutual respect. Here are some key lessons that underscore the importance of teamwork, shared vision, and aligned values for me:

- Unity and collaboration
- Shared vision and values
- Commitment and work ethics
- Mutual support and encouragement
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Communication and transparency
- Willingness for continuous improvement

Overall, as a team, we achieved something incredible. Bringing women over the age of 40 to take part in the infamous Speed Project is something we are very proud of. Of course, we would love to have completed the whole 340 miles but we hope to have inspired many people along the way. I am a ‘happy-sad’ if there was ever an emotion. Happy for what we achieved but sad that we didn’t hit the goal 100%. Which can only mean one thing, right??? 🤔😃

I hope that by embracing these lessons we can create a strong foundation for our endeavours moving forward and continue to inspire those around us to strive for excellence.

I am going on this adventure again #itwasbetternextyear. The Speed Project amongst other challenges and projects will continue to see me show up. By actively engaging in these adventures, I hope to play a vital role in expanding access, promoting inclusivity and creating a more equitable outdoor community for everyone to enjoy.

I will always try to lead by example by actively participating in outdoor activities and adventures. I hope that my presence helps challenge stereotypes and encourages others to see themselves reflected in outdoor pursuits. I will continue to share my stories and experiences to inspire others. Use my social media platform and blogs to amplify voices and perspectives that are often underrepresented.

Continued collaboration with allies and like-minded individuals has had a great impact and is an invaluable advocate for systemic change. I am here to create lasting and meaningful progress and change for generations to come. We are proud of the incredible support we received from our crew. When they heard that Gloria was putting together a team, they were determined to support, whatever the cost. True allies. We are eternally grateful!


- Stick to the plan! How ever hard you think it is, it is 10 folds harder! 
- Try to maintain your speed. This is super important so that you are not out longer than necessary
- Give yourself a year and fully commit to the training plan and sessions
- What you see on social media is not real! It does not always reflect the complete truth. Social media often portrays a curated version of reality, focusing on all the highlights and juicy bits and not the full picture

Last but not least, for those of you wanting to get into running, get out there and give it a go, cause you never know where it may take you!

Keep embracing challenges, pushing your limits, and spreading positivity and encouragement wherever you go.

Training session at Paddington Recreation track

Legacy and what’s next✨️

Gloria and I will further pursue our work to increase and improve participation access for the older generation, black women over 40 and inspire people to have the confidence to start their movement journey whether that is a walk, a run or an ultra.

There needs to be more of a community reach for the older generation when it comes to being active. Creating more inclusive communities and support networks for older women in sports and fitness will have a significant impact on well-being and participation. It is important to address barriers and provide opportunities for everyone to stay active and connected, regardless of age.

The forgotten generation, as they are often known. Those older than ourselves. This is an area of passion and concern as someone who has lost both parents and many aunties and uncles. Making sure the older generation feel valued and included is important as they navigate changes in their health and lifestyle. We hope to make a meaningful difference in many lives.

Belonging’ goes beyond what we hear about all the time (diversity and inclusion). It emphasises the need for us to feel a sense of connection, ownership and acceptance within the community.

Together these principles promote equity, empathy and understanding where we can all thrive and continue to work towards our full potential.

Watch this space and we would appreciate your support.


The work continues ❤️


  1. Very nice and detailed blog. It was a good read :)


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