Mary Claire Walker
Clifton Park, NY
Mary Claire Walker is a paramedic in Clifton Park, New York where she works two full-time jobs averaging 72 hours a week. She is also an avid ultrarunner who loves running trails and competing when she can. We caught up with her recently to see how her life has changed in the current global environment.
“I feel like I'm going to war every time I go to work right now. We are fighting an invisible enemy.”
A first responder’s job is always tough mentally, physically, and emotionally, but there are some key differences these days that make it even more intense. Although she is equipped with all necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), she is constantly worried about her own health and has been told that it isn’t a matter of if she gets the virus, but when. While she appreciates the PPE they are given, it is not only uncomfortable and hot, it makes her feel like she is suiting up to go to war or perhaps just stepped off the moon. This makes her feel alienated from her patients.
Being an ultrarunner helps Walker at work and vice versa. She said first and foremost, as an ultrarunner, she is “comfortable with being uncomfortable” so putting on a clumsy moon suit and fighting for peoples’ lives for long hours is a little bit easier because she knows how to deal with long periods of discomfort. On the flip side, seeing people suffer against their will actually makes choosing to suffer easier for her.
“Choosing to suffer is so important. In that 50k, I chose to suffer instead of being forced to. I see people die of this virus every day and the best way I have found to make sense of that is by being with myself on the trail. My job is so selfless and sometimes I feel so helpless, but it makes me more grateful for the ability to run and be healthy. I have a new perspective on life and live each day like it’s my last.”
- Walker on recently running a virtual 50k race between shifts
Walker is a HUGE fan of Altra Footwear and not only runs in them religiously, but she wears the Altra Tushar Boot for work and said it has made a huge difference. “The Tushar is comfortable and lightweight. I realized that just running in healthy footwear wasn’t enough, considering I work 72 hours per week, so having something I can wear at work that is also good for my feet is a gamechanger.”