"You are stronger than you think you are”. This is Erika’s motto in life, and what a motto it is. This Californian beauty’s story isn’t just words, but one of real, unfiltered strength and determination. Erika is a long-time runner and triathlete – she has completed NYC and Berlin Marathons, and many half-Ironman distance triathlons in the United States. As a sign of the kind and caring soul that she is, she ran as guide for disabled athletes in New York during the 2009 and 2010 marathons - she describes it as the best running experience in her life, and something she implores others to try at least once.

However things soon changed. Four years ago Erika woke up and couldn’t feel her legs or feet. She was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and her life was changed forever. Over the next two years, Erika taught herself to walk again, and then run. This was one hell of a journey. But Erika’s is a story of perseverance, patience, and determination above all. “Fast forward two years after my diagnosis, and I did a 25km race here in Berlin. I had a wildest dream goal time in mind, but in reality I just wanted to finish”. For Erika this was a big moment. The outcome? “ I beat my goal time, and sobbed as I crossed the finish was pretty emotional and memorable”.

When you overcome such a hurdle in life, how does this influence you as a leader of a running community? “I may be one of the slower captains, and some days, running is still really difficult for me. But I’ve learned, your body can always do more than your mind thinks it can. I like running in the back, and encouraging people who think they cant finish, or go faster, or push harder, because there was a time I didn’t think I would ever run of course I can. And after every single run, I take a minute to just be thankful that my body can do it.”

For Erika, Midnight Runners is about the “positivity, the inclusivity and watching the slow runners get stronger and faster each week. I wont be happy until they have left me in the dust”. Oh did we mention that Erika's day job is an opera singer? Yup, that right. When she is not running with us she sings opera. WOW. (Check out Erika – you an inspiration to us all.

Next time you don’t think you can do something? Remember Erika’s story and sprint the final 100 metres.