In 2011 my charity, Every Mother Counts, was given a few spots in the New York City Marathon. I wasn’t much of a runner at the time, but competing in a marathon had always been on my bucket list. So I started training. That first race was challenging, of course, but there was something exciting about it too. You’re surrounded by thousands of other runners who’ve made the same commitment, which gives you an instant sense of camaraderie. It’s also an incredible way to see a city. I’d lived in New York for almost 30 years, and that day I ran through neighborhoods I’d never seen before.
But the best part was that our team managed to raise more than $150,000 for our cause: to improve access to maternal care for women around the world. The race helped us fund everything from basic medical supplies to training for health-care providers in countries such as Haiti and Tanzania. And the experience was so gratifying that I train all year long now. I just completed the Berlin Marathon, where we raised more than $120,000. It was my seventh race, and I was able to run the 26.2 miles in just over four hours, which was my goal. When I crossed the finish line, I felt such a sense of joy—probably all those endorphins—and relief, but also accomplishment. It was a really beautiful thing.
As told to Jennifer Ferrise.
Turlington Burns is a model and the founder and CEO of Every Mother Counts. For more stories like this, pick up the December issue of InStyle magazine, available on newsstands, through Amazon, and for digital download now.