Kirsten Beverley-Waters is preparing for 22 days of 50Ks in an attempt to break both the female and male world records for most consecutive days of 50-kilometer runs, which are 11 and 22 days respectively. Beginning on June 4, 2022, Beverley-Waters will run 31.1 miles every day for 22 days, exploring different trails in Maine, equaling a total of 684 miles.
Beverley-Waters, who uses they/she pronouns, is a nonbinary yoga medicine teacher, fitness coach, author and motivational speaker hoping to be an example of a queer person thriving in athletic spaces. Through the 22 days of 50Ks challenge, Beverley-Waters aims to bring awareness to mental health issues and fundraise for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people. The Trevor Project estimates that at least one LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the United States.
Beverley-Waters shares that, as a child, they began running to carry on the legacy of their father, who was an avid runner. “Because I lost my father at such a young age, I always struggled with anxiety,” they explain. They have lived with anxiety and depression since they were a child.
“I’m trying to be the version of myself that I need as a child,” Beverley-Waters says. “We always have the capacity to be that person that we needed, and by doing so we can become a representation for somebody else, we can encourage someone else, to do the same.”
Some days Beverly-Waters finds running helpful for their mental health, other days it’s yoga, others it’s a book and sometimes it’s medication. Most importantly, they have found that it is vital to always be aware of and present with their needs. “Movement becomes my space to check in mentally and make sure that I’m being really honest,” Beverly-Waters says. This yogi fell in love with running because of their father, but continued running because the sport has become their safe place. “The road, the trail, does not judge me, doesn’t care where I’m coming from, doesn’t care if I’m having a terrible day. It holds space for me,” they express.
One day in 2021, Beverley-Waters set out on a run and programmed their watch to go off every 45 seconds as a reminder of The Trevor Project’s statistic. “As each beep sounded, I thought of a youth sitting somewhere in the U.S. thinking this life is too much and wanting theirs to end. I couldn’t even make it an hour before the beeping of my watch became too much and I broke down into tears on the trail,” they share. That was when they knew they needed to do something big to catapult a change.
“As a member of the queer community, advocate and athlete, I realized I needed to combine my skills to do as much as I can to raise awareness around this detrimental part of youth experience, and I want every LGBTQ+ youth to know that I stand with them. Not just for the easy miles and the quick jogs. I’m here for the dark hours when things feel impossible, the highs when you feel unstoppable and everything in between,” they share.
Beverley-Waters is aiming to break both the female and male records to dismantle gender stereotypes in athletics and combat biases around LGBTQ+ athletes. “I want to be able to stand on my own two feet exactly as I am because I’ve spent my entire life trying to hide who I am or fit into a box, and I want to be able to do something that allows me to be myself – my most authentic self – and so I feel like going for the 22 days also honors that.”
Beverley-Waters is currently training for the challenge, and it is progressively increasing in load until June 4. Beverley-Waters keeps their training diverse. Somedays they do 90 minutes of running and a two-hour hike. Other days, they do 80 minutes on the bike. “It’s a combination of bike, run, strength, yoga, mobility,” they explain. What keeps Beverley-Waters going on the hard days is thinking of every LGBTQ+ youth in the statistic, and their younger self, who was one of those statistics.
Beverley-Waters will excitedly begin their 22 days of 50Ks challenge on June 4, 2022. If you would like to donate to the fundraiser for The Trevor Project, you can do so here. Beverley-Waters also invites people to join them for virtual miles and post using the hashtag #50ksforLGBTQYouth.
As Beverley-Waters prepares to make history with 22 days of 50Ks, their biggest desire is people know that they are seen, loved and appreciated. In the midst of a storm of negativity surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, they hope to be a positive light, encouraging people that, as they say, “The only pace is forward.”
“The only pace is forward.”
Photos courtesy of Kirsten Beverley-Waters.