Miss Softić, a woman who is moving the borders!

October 16, 2016 3:59 PM

nudzejmaMiss Softić, can you tell us something about yourself?

I was born in 1987 in Kozarac and the childhood I remember started during our time as refugees, when we were persecuted from the place where I was born, and when I heard the news that my father had been killed during the past war in BiH, in 1992. Moving from one place to another, I changed five elementary schools and settled with my family in Sarajevo in 2001. Since that moment, Sarajevo has become my home and a place where I started living my life to the fullest. I always loved reading, and at the same time I was writing and winning awards in literary competitions. Somehow logically, I enrolled in language and literature studies. I graduated with a BA and MA degree with almost the highest grade and that is why I got a job as a language monitor in Al Jazeera Balkans immediately after graduation. I soon enrolled in doctoral studies, but I gave up because I did not like the curriculum. Al Jazeera opened my horizons and I wanted more than what the University of Sarajevo could offer. I am looking for adequate doctoral studies that I will enrol in with pleasure and complete when my criteria are satisfied. I will not go back to literature in scientific terms and my professional development will go in the direction of communications, PR or marketing.

After only six months of running, Miss Softić competed in her first half marathon. How did you begin doing this kind of sport and when?

I started running because my job requires a lot of sitting in front of a computer and stress in the personal aspect of my life, which made me gain ten extra kilograms of weight. I was constantly tired and that was a massive wake-up call. After a friend’s recommendation, I became a member of the Klix Running School and it all took another direction in 2015. I experienced a true rebirth and started achieving one success after another in an entirely new area. I did not like running before because I was not able to run for more than three minutes. With the running school I started loving it and in six months I was ready for my first Sarajevo Half Marathon. My result was 2:17. Two weeks later, I ran the Zenica half marathon, and right after that the half marathon in Ljubljana. Those were three half marathons in a month and a sign that I should not stop.

After the race in Ljubljana, Miss Softić decided to try out the full marathon, which she successfully ran in Vienna and became the first woman to do it wearing a hijab. Can you describe the race and the feeling?

In October, after the Ljubljana half marathon, I decided that I wanted to run an entire marathon. We have already entered winter and tough training sessions included training in rain, snow, cold, smog, on mountains. We tested my fitness in February at the Split half marathon, where I improved my personal best time by 17 minutes. This made me very happy and the full marathon in Vienna in April this year was a real test and pure joy. I truly enjoyed each of the 42.2 kilometres. The fact that I am the first woman with hijab in Europe to run a full marathon made it extra special for me. Apart from me, two more women with hijab participated in the Vienna marathon, and after that I heard that one of them ran the marathon in Sweden. I am happy to hear that running is becoming a trend and I am especially proud of all my hijab sisters who did it and who are yet to do it. Sport is the best way to fight the prejudices about not only women with hijab, but about women in general. It is still a widespread opinion that women belong in the kitchen. It’s the 21st century and it time to move away from those ways of thinking and make positive changes in society. If we do not do that, no one else will.

nudzejnam2You are a woman who is moving the borders! You will be the first woman with a hijab to compete in the Ironman Triathlon. What message would you like to send other woman who would like to compete?

My entire life I had the opportunity to break the prejudices, mine and those of others, and I like that role. I like moving borders and exploring my limits. I like the fact that there are actually no limits when we truly want something. Looking up to my coaches and friends who completed the Ironman competitions, after many half marathons and a marathon I decided to prepare first for the half Ironman in 2017, and then for the full Ironman competition in 2018. If no one else appears in the meantime, I will be the first woman with hijab in the world to complete that triathlon and I am very proud of that. I hope I will be an example to many women to be aware of their capacities and to use them, to not let themselves be limited by social norms. The feeling that you are leading the way in something is truly priceless, although it is also a heavy burden on your back. One must know how to handle it, because preparations for this competition are difficult. If you have any additional burden, it all gets more difficult, but if you turn that burden into encouragement and motivation, it all gets easier. I am one of the latter ones, I make everything as simple as possible for myself, and then I give my best to achieve it. I believe in myself and I do not question the implementation of this plan. Some time ago I could not even imagine this, and now I’m already working on it.

Many people mentioned Mrs. Shirin Gerami, the first Iranian woman to complete the Ironman with hijab. Shirin is not wearing a hijab; she completed that triathlon with the hijab she is wearing out of traditional, not religious beliefs, because that was something that was requested from her by the country she represented. However, the fact that a woman from Iran came to the competition is a success itself and I am very happy for her. I wish her a lot more success.

What are your plans for the next five years, another marathon maybe?

Before I start preparing actively for the triathlon, I intend to run another two marathons, one in November this year in Beirut and the other one in March next year in Barcelona. Meanwhile, I will run half marathons throughout the region. I am already preparing for swimming with my coach and going to the gym. I ordered a triathlon bike and I will start those preparations in spring. The Half Ironman is in August 2017 and the full Ironman is in July 2018. After that, we’ll see, who knows? I will certainly run more marathons. Then I will be ready to do anything, so that plans for the future can be set after that. I am not thinking so far ahead, what matters to me is to achieve what I imagine.

How has your life changed since you started running? What motivates you while running?

As I already said, running made me experience a rebirth. A crucial role in that was played by my friends and coaches from the association NGO Marathon Sarajevo, who made me love running, who made running a part of my life and to make my happy by just being my friends. We run, we socialize, we travel, we move limits, and we organize our own, Sarajevo half marathon. We try to bring more people into this and reveal to them the magic of active participation in life. When you embrace life, life will embrace you.

Interview by Zejna SY



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