Norma Bastidas is a self-supported ultramarathon runner, a woman out to make history, and a single mom on a mission. Born in Mazatlan, Mexico, Norma has been living in Canada since 1993 and currently resides in Vancouver with her two sons, Karl and Hans.
The self-described "Mexican running wild" embarked on a grueling, record setting journey in support of Foundation Fighting Blindness, cnib and Operation Eyesight Universal, a global initiative to help tackle avoidable blindness.
In January 2009, Norma set out to be the second person in history to run seven of the planet's most unforgiving environments on seven separate continents in and the first to do it in seven months. Norma run through the thick jungles of Brazil and the driest deserts in the world all in support of the blind and visually impaired call the 777 Run For Sight.
Although this journey took her around the world, the cause is something that hits home for Norma. Four years ago, Norma's oldest son Karl, now 16 was diagnosed with Cone Rod Dystrophy, a progressive condition with no cure.
As a single parent supporting herself and her two sons, Norma found Karl's diagnosis to be an emotionally draining experience. To relieve the stress, Norma began to run - and never stopped.
In 2007, with only a half marathon and a full marathon under her belt, Norma registered to run her first ultra in support of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind. The race was a gruelling 125 km trek that included over 17,000 ft of elevation change over three mountain summits. After suffering from hypothermia near one of the mountaintops, Norma was unable to complete the race. But the question was already planted in her mind: If she could go 94 km without any real training...how far was she capable of going with training?
Now, just over two years later, Norma accomplished that running seven of the hardest ultramarathons on earth a total of 790.384 miles in total as an ambassador for her son and the millions of people around the world living with visual impairments and raising over $150,000.
Norma sees the ultramarathon experience as a metaphor for the incredible trials faced every day by the visually impaired. "Ultras are tough physically and emotionally," admits Norma, "but the challenge is only temporary. After I finish an ultra, my life goes back to normal. But people with visual impairments have to keep overcoming huge challenges every day of their lives."
Norma has chosen to support international initiatives to show her son Karl that he is not alone - that there are people around the world who are as strong and amazing as he is. She also believes her work will show both her children that we can all have a positive impact on other people's lives and change the world around them.
Her next quest is taking her to the highest point on each continent starting in May 2010 Norma successfully summit Mt. McKinley in Alalishing things that most people view as impossible, she is hoping to expand the boundaries of what's possible, a cure for her son.
For more information on Norma Bastidas, visit her official website.