Edinburgh Uni student has run 100 miles in three days to raise money for Rape Crisis

She had the idea after being harassed whilst running

An Edinburgh Uni student has run 160km (over 100 miles) in three days to raise money for the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and Rape Crisis England and Wales.

Natalie Peckett is going into her fourth year of a Medicine degree and was motivated to fundraise this way after becoming angry at harassment and catcalling she’d experience whilst running – as well as the fact she was wary to run after dark alone.

So far, her efforts (named Running Down Rape Culture) have raised £3910 but hopes to raise £4500 (or even more).

She told The Edinburgh Tab: “it seemed very fitting to run (and run and run) to raise awareness and money to fight rape culture and sexual violence”.

Split over three days, Nat ran around Edinburgh and The Pentland hills for a total of 27 hours.

In total, her runs had a combined elevation of 5300m – this is more than the elevation of Ben Nevis, Scotland and the UK’s tallest mountain.

When asked if the run was as challenging as she expected, she told us: “Honestly, I expected the run to be a lot worse than it actually turned out to be. I thought I was going to feel a lot worse both during and after each day and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the run for the vast majority of the time”.

Although it seems the main source of discomfort was unexpected. She said: “There were two times I can think of were I forgot to have a snack when I should have – and as someone who tends to get quite hangry, those were definitely low moments! Also nearing the end of the last day my knee started to play up so going downhill became very painful so that wasn’t ideal either.”

Along the run, she was greeted by friends and family who came out to support her. Other runners also came to meet her along the way to show their support and solidarity.

Nat said: “My friends, family and strangers have been so incredibly supportive for this whole journey. I think the scariest part was originally posting a video on my Instagram telling people what I was going to do and why. It felt right to open up the conversation and try to be as honest as possible about my own experiences of rape culture, but I was definitely nervous to put myself out there.

“I’ve been so grateful for everyone who has reached out to me with such positivity and support to wish me luck or to cheer me on and congratulate me on the running.”

People weren’t just reaching out to Nat to congratulate her. She told us: “So many people also got in touch thanking me and saying that the cause hits close to home and that they too have been affected by sexual violence, or that I managed to voice and put into words what they feel. And those messages, although slightly heartbreaking, built such a sense of solidarity and purpose and really reminded me why I decided to go ahead with this seemingly absurd plan in the first place.

When asked why she chose to raise money for Rape Crisis, she said: “Ending sexual violence and rape culture is a cause that I have always felt passionately about, and when the media kicked off with this topic after the tragic death of Sarah Everard it really brought so many strong emotions to the forefront for so many women. It was around this time that I decided I wanted to raise both money and awareness for the cause.

“To me, they stand out as a charity (especially the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre) because they not only provide support to all 12-18 year olds, women and trans and non-binary people who are survivors of sexual violence, but they are also focused on the prevention of sexual violence through education for young people. I think the only way to solve the problems of rape culture and sexual violence in our communities is to start at the root and open up conversations and provide education at a young age, so supporting this work is very important to me.”

The immediate aftermath of Sarah Everard’s murder affected Nat very directly as she had previously felt unsafe running alone at night. So, combining her two passions seemed both natural and a way to directly challenge victim blaming narratives that link women being alone in public to sexual violence.

She told us: “Running to me is something that I have learnt to love and comes with feelings of strength, freedom and happiness. I feel so in control and powerful – but at the same time I’m so wary of going for runs at night or with headphones in, and frequently get catcalled or harassed while out running.

“It makes me so angry and frustrated to have my happy, safe space taken away from me like that and so it seemed very fitting to run (and run and run) to raise awareness and money to fight rape culture and sexual violence.”

You can donate to Nat’s Running Down Rape Culture JustGiving page here.

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