Nicki was another female athele who graced the FEAT stage with an inspirational talk about the triumphs and challenges of ultra marathon running. Nicki proclaims that she’s not the fastest runner but says “If there was a podium for person that loves ultra running the most, I would be standing on top!”

She stepped outside the norm and talked about a time where she got a “DNF” (Did not finish) and about how that experience transformed her life.

Jami, “Welcome to Adventure Awaits! Can you start off by telling me about yourself and some of your accomplishments?”

Nicki, “I’m a dual Australian/Canadian citizen.  For many years I was a school teacher but now I am an assistant professor of education at Ambrose University in Calgary. Results of which I am most proud: 7th overall female in the 2014 Tor Des Geants (330 km non-stop race in Italian Alps); Previous FKT holder of 1000 km Bibbulmun Track in Australia; World 24-hr Rogaine Championships 2014 – 3rd place; City Chase National Championships 2008 Newfoundland – 1st place.”

Nicki Rehn on stage

Photo Credit:Suzy Buckley and Nicki Rehn

Jami, “Tell us about your Ultra Marathon Adventures”

Nicki, “I love adventure, BIG adventures. I love mountain summits, navigation, and really long runs. My main activities include mountain ultras, scrambling, adventure racing and orienteering/Rogaining. ”

Nicki Rehn on a beach

Photo Credit:Suzy Buckley and Nicki Rehn

Jami, “How has your ultra trail running adventures changed your life?”

Nicki, “This is a hard question to answer because I have only ever known adventure.  I grew up in rural Western Australia where most of my childhood was spent exploring bush and lakes and beaches and dessert.  However, my life today is certainly impacted by this…..I prefer to be outside, I love to sleep in my tent for extended periods of time.  I’ve always loved feeling strong and fit and healthy and the fact that my body can take me to amazing places always supersedes any issues I might have with body image.  I need the outdoors and movement to think clearly and be a nice human being!!!”

Women on the top of a mountain

Photo Credit:Suzy Buckley and Nicki Rehn

Jami, “What is your favorite inspirational quote?”

Nicki, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

Jami, “What’s a lesson you learnt from a time where you “failed”

Nicki, “There is a famous quote by Robert H. Schuller: “What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

However, I think of things a little differently. I say, “What great thing would you attempt if you knew that failure was probable but you were not afraid of it?”

I’ve had the pleasure of living this during my three attempts at the Barkley Marathons.  In the 30 years of this race, only 14 men and zero women have ever completed the 120+ miles and 60000 feet of climbing in the time limit of 60 hours.  I’m not afraid of failing because failing happens at your limits and that’s a great place to hang out.   I always try to do things that are way out of my comfort zone.  Like a few years ago I enrolled in drawing class even though I am a terrible artist.  I knew I’d suck from beginning to end, which I did, but I learned so much, not just about drawing but about myself, and humility, and how I approach vulnerability.  As adults, we tend to keep ourselves within the zone of comfort, predictability, competency, and managed risk.  I like to challenge that notion.   ”

Nicki Rehn jumping on a mountain

Photo Credit:Suzy Buckley and Nicki Rehn

Jami, “Who inspires you? Why?”

Nicki, “I’m inspired by many people for different reasons, but I think I have to mention a great lady, Jean McNaughton, who is an 80+ athlete from my orienteering club who competes regularly in orienteering races and volunteers huge amounts of time to our sport.  She travels all over the country attending major events and I just love being out there in the woods and seeing her negotiate natural obstacles and complex maps to complete all distances of courses with a big smile on her face.”

Jami, “One song that always makes you get up and dance…”

Nicki, “Almost anything from Imagine Dragons” (Good choice Nicki!)

Jami, “Can you finish this sentence, I think it’s important for children to connect with nature because…”

Nicki, “It is outside. It evokes all the senses.  It leads to spontaneous play. It gives space. It teaches resilience.  Creates healthier bodies. Reduces anxiety. Fosters imagination and creativity.

My undergraduate studies and first career was in kinesiology and adventure education for kids.  And now I spend a lot of my time advocating for kids to be outside more.  In Calgary, I sit on the executive committee of an outstanding program called SOGO Adventure Running, which is modelled after the very successful program in Ontario called Adventure Running Kids.  Our catch phrase is outside and active, and our goals are to build skills, fitness and resiliency in kids by hosting adventure running programming in parks and woods around Calgary.  I am very proud of this program.”

Woman by a lake

Photo Credit:Suzy Buckley and Nicki Rehn

Jami, “What is your favorite local family adventure?”

Nicki, “My family live in Australia.  All 19 of us spend a week camping by a remote lake every summer to go water-skiing.  I don’t shower the entire time!

In Canada, my friends are my family and I love to run to the summit of a mountain with a couple of my closest friends and a bottle of Prosecco to toast the view, health, and the beautiful planet we live on.

Jami, “What is your favorite local solo adventure?”

Repeats on Prairie Mountain in Kananaskis Provincial Park in the middle of winter.

Jami, “Last Question, Girl Guide Cookie Talk: Do you like the chocolate or vanilla ones best?


To see Nicki’s FEAT Canada talk check out the video below, or check out her blog at: