Stephanie Case (BA(H), JD, LLM)* is a human rights lawyer and women’s rights advocate with expertise in conflict settings and humanitarian emergencies. In 2009, she gave up a career in corporate law to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. She has since worked for the UN in Afghanistan, the International Rescue Committee in South Sudan, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kyrgyzstan, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Gaza, Palestine. Today Stephanie is based in Geneva, where she works for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Stephanie has witnessed first-hand the harmful effects of conflict and the disproportionate negative impact on women and girls. She founded Free to Run to use the power of sports to transform lives and communities in the places where it's needed most.
As an avid ultra-runner, Stephanie has won or placed in a number of international running events, ranging from 250 km multi-day desert races to 200-mile non-stop mountain races. Stephanie is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, and a recent TEDx speaker.
James Willcox, is the co-Founder of the adventure travel company, Untamed Borders. This unique travel group specializes in trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Middle East, East Africa, former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus. James has travelled extensively through all of these regions as well.
In 2013 he was awarded a personal commendation by the Governor of the Bamyan Province, for his part in bringing ski tourism to Afghanistan. Since 2015, Untamed Borders has been a key partner in the annual Marathon of Afghanistan, the only international marathon in the country.
Alex Bancroft, Board Treasurer, is a certified public accountant (CPA) with Garvey, Steele & Company in Mystic, Connecticut. She has almost 15 years of experience in auditing governments, businesses and not for profit organizations.
Alex is also a race director with the Berkshires Ultra Running Community for Service (BURCS). This amazing community of runners has been fundraising for Free to Run since 2015. Alex is a passionate runner who has competed in a number of races including 10 ultra-marathons.
Leah Anathan is a marketing leader in the software industry. She has over 20 years of experience in brand and product strategy, and growth marketing for technology startups. Passionate about product innovation, Leah has helped multiple software companies to launch award-winning products. Today she is the Chief Marketing Officer at Qubit in London.
Leah also spent 15 years as a competitive equestrian where she learned first-hand the positive impact that sports can have on the lives of women and girls. She was an early advisor for Free to Run, and joined the board officially in 2016 to help lead marketing and comms for the charity.
Duncan Wilson* works for the United Nations in Myanmar where he serves as an advisor to a number of governments. His work with the UN has taken him all over the world including assignments in South and South East Asia, East Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific.
Before joining the UN, Duncan worked in journalism and communications in New York, Washington D.C., and his native New Zealand.
Mimi Anderson is a world-class ultra-runner who holds multiple Guinness World Records. She has raced across deserts in the Sahara, Libya, Chile, Kalahari and Namibia. She has raced over mountains in Colorado, the Alps and the Himalayas. She has braved the Jungles of Peru, and set a new female record in one of the hottest places on earth. At the other end of extremes, Mimi has raced and won a 352-mile self-sufficiency race in the Arctic, setting a course record that has yet to be broken.
In 2008 Mimi completed a run from John O’Groats to Land’s End in the UK, a distance of 840 miles. Along the way, she set a new Female World Record. In 2012, she set another Female World Record for running the length of Ireland, 345 miles. Anderson is the first person to hold both World Records simultaneously. In September 2014, Mimi ran an average of 61km for 32 consecutive days across South Africa’s Freedom Trail (2,000km). In doing so, she raised over £26,000 on behalf of Save the Children.
Amy Sproston has been running since she was 11 years old and competing in ultramarathons since 2006. She is on the Montrail-Mountain Hardwear Team and is a world-class athlete, although you would never know it from her down-to-earth and humble attitude.
When she isn’t running, Amy works for an international nonprofit that helps people around the world after conflict, crisis and natural disaster, which has brought her to Afghanistan a number of times already. Through her travels for both work and running, Amy has had the opportunity to run in over 40 countries, and feels there is no better way to see the world.
Amy has competed in more than 60 ultramarathons over the past decade, winning more than 20 of those. Some of her top finishes include a win at the 2012 IAU 100K World Championship, the 2015 HURT 100, and 3 top-ten finishes at Western States, including a 3rd place finish there in 2013.
Mahsa is an Iranian woman who is working tirelessly to provide sports opportunities for women in her country. Ten years ago she broke barriers in Iran by negotiating with the cycling federation for the opportunity to travel by bicycle alone.
She opened the way for other females in the country who wanted to cycle, and started her own cycling team. In recent years, Mahsa has combined her love of cycling and climbing. She completed an expedition from the lowest point in Iran (-28m) to the highest (5671m) at the summit of Damavand mountain.
In February 2016, Mahsa made history by running in the first international marathon in Iran, which was only open to male entries. In May 2016, she ran in a 250km self-supported footrace through the Iranian Dasht-e-Lut desert. This was a ground-breaking event as it was the first time in almost four decades that men and women competed together in an Iranian running race.
Zahra and Farahnaz
Zahra and Farah met at a boarding school in Kabul in 2010 and have been studying on competitive scholarships in the United States whilst simultaneously taking up running. Both started their running adventures with a half marathon in 2015, followed by a few marathons. In September 2017, they competed in a 50 mile ultra at the Free to Run Trail Races in Massachusetts. Together, they work towards changing the narrative of Muslim runners in the West.
Their experience of growing up in Afghanistan has inspired many Free to Run supporters in the United States. Zahra also shares her adventures with a broader audience through her blog, The Hijabi Runner.