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Monday Inspiration: Deborah De Williams


Posted by Cags R under Ultrarunning on 21 October 2012 at 11:00 PM

Deborah de Williams is the extraordinary Ultra runner and record hold from downunder!

Before entering the world of Ultras, Deborah had already been a keen sports woman, raising money for charity through over 100 different fun runs, half-marathons and marathons. In 2004, she set off for an around Australia walk in order to raise money for Kids Helpline.

As well as raising mega-bucks for a great cause, she also broke the previous record for the longest consecutive time spent walking - making a nice neat 365 day trip! The walk was 16,925km which meant an average of 46.36km per day - with a minimum of 20km per day to qualify for the new record.

"It was a long journey and I got hit by cyclones, dodged snakes and crocodiles and hot weather, I got home and thought 'wow... that was really tough but I did it, followed my dreams but I will never do that again' - well you should never say never in life" - De Williams in an interview with RDontherun

In 2006, Barbara carried the Queen's baton in the Commonwealth Games relay and was diagnosed with breast cancer. At this point the quote from The Shawshank Redemption ran through Barbara's head: "You either get busy living or you get busy dying". This motivated her to start up a charity called Running Pink  which works to raise money for brest cancer research and Deborah set off on another round Australia trip, this time running! 

Deborah de Williams and her border collie Maggie

Now to this point, you may be thinking 'Wow, what an awesome lady' but the real inspiration is what happened next...

In Elliott in Northern Territory, Deborah tripped over her running companion Maggie (the border collie) and broke both her feet. In true 'jog-it-off' fashion, she continued on for 800km to Darwin to finish the south to north leg of her journey. Here, she visited doctors about her feet and was forced to give up her attempt to run around Australia. She had raised over $100,000 for breast cancer research.

In hospital back in Melbourne, Deborah was told by a nurse that she would never run 1000km again, top surgeons and sports physicians were telling her she would never be able to complete her dream of running around Australia. It was an email from a complete stranger (who Deborah called Jan) that made her throw her running shoes again:

The email said that if Deborah could get out and run the other half, from Melbourne back up to Darwin and complete the loop, then Jan could survive stage 2 breast cancer. She had been given 3 months to live and was asking Deborah to keep going.

The rest is history Deborah and Maggie made it round the whole of Australia (18026.4km) in 408 days, they were celebrated in each town they stopped in (though Deborah does complain that Maggie was better known than her!) and raised over $200,000 for cancer research! 

  • Encourage

    encouraged this.



    What an amazing lady is Deborah: her strength of character, her fighting spirit and her unwavering commitment and dedication to raising funds for charity. I am in awe of her achievements; it is staggering to think of the distances she traveled, and in her condition. Not to forget her canine friend Maggie, who is also an Aussie legend.

    Teresa D encouraged this.


    In a full interview with Deborah, she revealed that Maggie's now more famous than her! Someone in s shop said 'I know're Maggie's owner!' that made me chuckle a bit!

    encouraged this.


    WOW, there are no words! Simply amazing!


    Wow! This kind of stories are really motivating! Deb did what she needed to do! I think sometimes we don't do things because the lack of motivation or importance. Ideas like "why would I do that?" or "it is not necessary, I better go for something that really motivates me" and that's the thing! The motivation sometimes arrives when you start things! You first try then you decide if you quit or not, not before. I loved this story.

    Cags R encouraged this.


    amazing, unbelievable, keep going.

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