(Rachel Kearney/Contributed)

Penticton woman plans 250km run around Okanagan Lake for eating disorder awareness

Rachel Kearney will only take 40 minute breaks in hopes to raise money and awareness for eating disorders

A Penticton woman is planning to run around Okanagan Lake without taking more than a 40 minute break.

On June 4, Rachel Kearney will run roughly 250 kilometres around Okanagan Lake to raise money and awareness for people struggling with eating disorders, a cause that is close to her heart.

Kearney said she suffered silently from bulimia between the ages of 15 and 20. Because she was never underweight, no one suspected she was struggling.

“I battled with this idea in my head because exercising to lose weight may be triggering for someone with an eating disorder because it could enforce the idea of exercise for weight loss,” Kearney told Black Press Media.

But when she thought about why she was running – because she loves it, and who she was raising awareness for, she knew she had to do it.

Kearney will start her run in Penticton, through Vernon and Kelowna, and then back to Penticton. She anticipates the run will take her almost three days, and she’s going to do it in 50 kilometre intervals with only 40 minute breaks in between.

It might sound crazy, but based on her research and training – she won’t need much rest. Her boyfriend will drive his van by her along the entire way to ensure she is safe and feeling good.

Originally from Ireland, Kearney chose to raise money for Bodywhys Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, which is where she was when she struggled with bulimia.

“I didn’t know groups like this existed and I have no recollection of it ever being mentioned in school or just in life,” she said. “If some crazy challenge gets attention and helps bring awareness to a worthy cause and helps at least one person reaches out to Bodywhys or just gets help with their relationship with food, then that’s something.

“Exercise isn’t going to solve your eating disorder. Your mind will.”

Kearney will start running from Sicamous Heritage Park in Penticton at 4 a.m. on June 4. You can contribute to her GoFundMe here.

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