Team EMPOWER Spotlight: Ella Hassall

21 June 2016 | Smile Train

Ella Hassall Smile Train

What inspired you to run the Great North Run for Smile Train’s Team EMPOWER?

I was born with a cleft lip and palate, but I never knew how children with clefts were viewed around the globe, until I found Smile Train as a teenager. Now, the more I learn about Smile Train, the more I want to get involved. Joining Team EMPOWER seemed like a great way to challenge myself to a half marathon while supporting a community that's so close to my heart and in such need of awareness.

How has training gone so far?

I recently moved to the UK, from Australia, and I haven’t been able to grasp the climate here yet. I’ll leave the house in shorts and let out a frustrated chuckle when it starts snowing on me! I’m also extremely easily distracted -- the sight of any dog will make me change my route for the chance to pat one.

I've always had an 'on again, off again' relationship with running, but this will be my first time running at an event. My goal is to complete the 13 mile run within 2.5 hours but I will be happy to finish. When I do finish, it will be my personal best — I've never ran more than 8 miles before!

What keeps you going when training?

When need motivation, I think about the stories from Smile Train. I read about families who have to walk much more than the Great North Run’s 13 miles, so that they can get their child to a hospital, and renew their hope. Thinking about families like these, makes me feel so unbelievably blessed and helps me push myself -- that and really loud music in my ears!