Let us remind you some facts about this incredibly optimistic and positive woman who was full of life, passion and indomitable spirit admired by many runners.
It’s Basia Szlachetka whose image is to be depicted on this years’ UP medal.
She was born on May, 17th, 1956 in Łomża. She spent most of Her adult life in Laskowice and Hamburg.
In her childhood she suffered from the lack of legs control which could have led to a lifetime disability, however after a few years of fight, she managed to overcome her condition.
In 1991 she went to work in Germany where she worked as a babysitter. She happened to look after doctor Christian Hottas’s children which turned out to be crucial to the development of her sport “career” as he was a declared, fanatic runner who belonged to the elite society of 100 marathons runners (to enter the venerable club one has to finish one hundred marathons). To be precise, doctor Hottas, at that time, had many, many more – over 900 – and by the end of 2014 he had well over 2000 and was the first person in the worldwide ranking.
It was doctor Hottas who encouraged and inspired Basia to embark on this amazing marathon journey.
November, 15th, 1997, virtually without any preparation, Basia Szlachetka managed to complete her first marathon. She was 41 then and had no sport experience. Later on she called that day her “rebirth”.
From that moment on she could not have imagined her life without running.
“A mature woman in her forties, a mother of two adult children, found her destination” (that’s how she was described in Polish and German media).
In the year of her debut she completed 52 marathons (approximately one per week) which guaranteed her place in The Guiness Book of Records. A few years latershe achieved another worldwide record – she completed 100 marathons within one year, eleven months and nine days.
However, marathons were only a sort of preparation for her beloved ultramarathons. Till the end of her life she managed to run 300 marathons. Among the ultra runs she set many Poland’s and Europe’s records. She reached the podium of many prestigious running competitions as well as of various acknowledged sport events.
Her greatest achievements cover:
- Women’s world record in 48-hours run in a sports hall – 284 km, March 2000, Brno
- Europe’s women’s record in 48-hours run – 348 km, 2003, Cologne (it was the second result in the world at that time)
She was a multiple champion of the long-distance runs in Poland and Germany.
In September, 2003, she participated in her most desired competition – she ran in the cult Sparthatlon in Greece where she covered the distance between the Athens and Sparta within 31 hours, 50 minutes , reaching the 20th position in the general classification. She was third among women.
July 2004 she went to Cologne where she wanted to challenge the Word rekord in 48-hour run. It seemed that she had a good chance of accomplishing her goal, however two days before the run she felt really bad and had to give up her plan. After many tests it was discovered that she suffered from cancer.
“It’s fascinating how a person can overcome their weakness and reach the finishing line. The victory over ourselves is the victory in general , not defeating other people. One mustn’t give up – one has to overcome the crises. Of course there are moments when I think of giving up, but then I convince myself saying: Basiu you have to run to the finish line – and I keep going. I never give up.” she said in one of her interviews.
She fought her cancer as fiercely as she did on the marathons’ routes, yet her illness turned out to be fiercer, she died November, 24th, 2005