Tuedon Omatsola Morgan a really inspirational woman started running in 2011 to lose weight after her mother failed to recognize her in a train station. The 42-year mother of four, who looks like she’s in her 20s, has run in over 30 marathons and is the first Nigerian to run the North Pole Marathon, and the first to plant the Nigerian flag on the North Pole. In this inspiring interview, she talked about overcoming her weight problems and her experience in the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013.
You just became the first Nigerian to run the North PoleMarathon. What was it like running there and planting the Nigerian flag in the ice?
The North Pole marathon really lives up to its name as the world’s coolest marathon. I raced at the top of the world. I kept asking myself if I have the nerve and drive to travel to the North Pole and run on the Arctic Ice Floes, with 6 to 12 feet separating me from 12,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. I live in the Middle East and training for that race was impossible. This marathon is not run on land but on water.I become the first Nigerian to run this race. I raised my country’s flag at the finish line. No Nigerian has ever run a race on the North Pole. I want to see more Nigerians run it. I went there to prove to others that it can be done by ordinary people.
Would you say it is the toughest marathon you had run in?
Yes it was. I ran on King George Island in Antarctica and it was nothing like this. The North Pole drained my energy. I was mentally and physically challenged.
You started running to lose weight after the birth of your fourth son. From someone who did not participate in any school sport to a professional athlete, how did this transition happen?
It was a transition of can’t to can. It all started with my mind. I was big and I had a very good relationship with food. I ate everything. But you know you are ready when you try getting up and moving and find it difficult. I was ready when that time came.
There was a time your mom didn’t recognize you at the train station because you had put on so much weight. How significant a moment was that in your deciding to get back to fitness?
That broke my heart. She’d been talking a lot about my weight and I disliked those conversations but listened out of respect. That day really got me thinking about my health and lifestyle.
Your first marathon was in 2012 and since then you have ran in over 30 marathons. Which one would you say is the toughest?
The North Pole marathon.Definitely the most difficult marathon. But I need a new challenge. I need something that will really push my limits.
I have done some really good marathons across the world. The six world marathon majors like Boston, London, New York, Tokyo, and Chicago. Antarctica twice, the North Pole. The list goes on. Every races gives me something back. Dubai was my first. I will always remember that experience.
You’ve said running is “spiritual” for you. How so?
Yes it is. This is a big part of my life. It’s my connection with God. When I run my mind is clear, I feel forgiveness, I feel love, and all my pain disappears. It’s such an exciting feeling. I run with a bad leg but when am deep in my zone I don’t feel the pain. I find myself meditating for others. My fears and challenges disappear. It has to be God.
Despite the bad leg and the challenges, you keep pushing for more. Do you have a target for the number of marathons you want to run in?
Yes I want to run in 100 marathons. But I also want to move to triathlons.
When exactly did you start running and how long do you think you can keep running like this considering that you are already 42?
I actually started running in 2011. I pray to God every day to give me some good years of running. I still have so much to see and places to run. Not sure how long but I pray till I am really old.
For one keen on fitness, how do you do it?What is you regimen like?
It’s a combination of exercise and food. Food plays a big role. I formed a weight loss group with another friend .It started in March 2011 and it was just a few friends coming together to lose weight for a party. It has become a movement now. A movement of peace and freedom. People have started believing more in what they are capable of doing. We really have no limits.
For all those people who want to lose weight but are not sure about how to start, what can you tell them?
Start where you are with what you have. Start now. Don’t wait until you have to. Don’t wait till your health starts to deteriorate. Your health is your real wealth.
I seriously think that running has given me a glimpse of the greatest freedom a man can ever know because it results in the simultaneous liberation of both body and mind. The potential for greatness lives within each of us. If you tell your story enough,even you will eventually begin to believe it. I remember when I told someone I wanted to run a marathon someday and to be honest I just finished running 5km on the road. Not the treadmill, on the road. That was big for me. The first question the person asked me was do you know what a marathon is? He said I have been running for x years and never considered running a marathon. I said to him someday I will run Boston too. He fell down laughing.
Running is my freedom especially in recent times and in the world we now live in.
And you did run the Boston Marathon. You were there when a bomb went off. What was your experience of that incidence?
I was a few meters from the finish line. God knows if I had ran any faster that day maybe it would be a different story. As we were approaching the finish line we heard this loud noise. Thankfully runners didn’t get hurt. But those in front started running back towards us. I was so afraid. I remember it being so cold. It was a very sad day.