Manika Gamble is a 33 years old marathon runner from the United States. She is currently training to run 155 miles across the Namib Desert. The longest she has ever run is 26 miles. This ultra marathon in Namibia will be her first experience in the country and her first ultra marathon.
Can you briefly tell us your background (Where were you born, educational background, etc.)?
My name is Manika Gamble, I was born in Hawaii, USA. I am 34 years old. I am African American. I went to college in North Carolina, USA and received my bachelors degree in Human Relations. I moved Atlanta, Georgia after college and decided to enroll in a Master’s degree program and received my degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
What is your profession?
Despite my long educational career I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I started a short term rental business and I have done this work for 7 years now.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an athlete. Can you please share that journey with us?
In middle school I was in my PE (physical education) class and my teacher told me how I ran so well and I should consider being on the track team. That was the start of a now lifelong passion for running. I went on to run from 8th grade through college as a hurdler/sprinter. After college I transitioned to longer distances like 30 minute runs, 5ks, and here I am now years later embarking on an international Ultra marathon, taking on a 155 mile ultra marathon in Namibia, Africa!
Can you share some of significant highlights of your journey as an athlete?
Some significant highlights for me as an athlete were receiving a substantial scholarship to a beautiful school for my athletic abilities, I took this honor very seriously and worked very hard to be the best athlete I could be. This lead me to breaking many school and state records. I also was able to share my story with many which inspired not only others but myself as well to keep going and live a clean healthy lifestyle to be a good example to others and myself.
You are an ultra-marathon runner now, what made you make the switch?
This is a question I get a lot. I have an odd way of enjoying discomfort in a sense. Although this distance at first seemed unfathomable after months of training it feels within reach in a more reasonable way now! I moved to ultra running because I enjoy being outside in nature, I enjoy running, I like to challenge myself, and the reward and the feeling after is indescribable!
You are based in the states, how did you come to learn about Namibia?
I was watching a YouTube series on running in Namibia and I was immediately intrigued. The landscape stole my heart and I was locked in on doing this race myself to experience the culture, the landscape, the people and food!
You are going to participate in the ultra-marathon in Namibia, what inspired this and why Namibia specifically?
I was inspired by a runner named Jeff Pelletier, he documented his journey and it was amazing to see! I knew I also wanted to experience the rugged and harsh terrain draped in beauty and wonder! I have watched many ultra marathons from around the world and I’ve seen many in stunningly beautiful destinations, but Namibia with the sand dunes meeting the water just intrigued me to where this is the only place I have set my mind on doing my first ultra-marathon. Once I’m set on something it’s pretty difficult to get it out of my mind and I have been set on Namibia for a while now.
How’s the training going and what is your training regime?
Training has been going great! I ensure to work out a minimum of 5 times per week. I incorporate weights, sprints, long distance runs, hills, and recovery work like stretching, yoga, etc. I ensure my protein and nutrition is good to not lose excessive weight while training as well.
Will this be your first time in Namibia or have you been here before.
This will be my first time and I’m so excited!
You will be the first black woman to participate in this specific marathon, what does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me, I feel the weight to represent well and to go out and complete what I’ve set out to do which is to run with heart, give it my all, and finish well. I have created my social media platform to inspire as well as seek inspiration from others and it’s been successful both ways. For me making history is something I had to sit and reflect on because it’s easy for me to move quickly and allow things to fly by without pondering over and reflecting on it. When I did it really hit home for me that this is an exceptionally special opportunity to show young girls, older woman, everyone really that with hard work dedication, determination and grit anything is possible.
How can Namibians support your extra-ordinary journey?
I appreciate support through my social media platform Instagram @manikaruns YouTube: Manika Runs
I have created a GoFundMe linked in the bio of my Instagram profile to help with the expensive nature of this endeavor.
I also have an Amazon gift registry linked in the bio of my Instagram to help with mandatory gear and supplies needed for this 7 day 155 mile feat.
Are you planning on doing anything with local athletes in Namibia.
I would love to! I have not coordinated any runs yet but I plan to arrive into Namibia early and would love to meet and do some runs or anything.
How can Namibians reach you?
You can follow me on Instagram @manikaruns you can send me a DM I respond to all of my messages.