Maddy Dillon, Staff Writer
At age 14, Alicia Rink was hospitalized for anorexia. Doctors told her parents that she could die any day and Rink battled with the disorder on and off for 11 years. Now, at age 26 and a junior at Warren Wilson, Rink says that since overcoming the disorder she “sees food as fuel for [her] active lifestyle, not a way to control it.”
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Unlike alcohol or other addictive substances, food is a necessity, therefore many would say it is much more difficult to suppress.
During her years with the disease, Rink ran excessively. Today she enjoys running healthily, free of self-destructive thoughts. To celebrate her accomplishment as well as her new passion for physical activity, Rink sought out challenging athletic events in which she could compete.
On Saturday, Jan. 8, Rink ran in the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in Orlando, Florida alongside 22,000 other runners. The route followed a flat paved path through Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and MGM Studios. Rink started training last November after Andrew Pulsifer, aquatics director and swim coach, suggested the 13.1-mile run.
A few weeks before the half-marathon Rink lost a close friend, Lynn Montgomery, to a heart attack. Montgomery was one of the doctors who helped Rink overcome her eating disorder. Rink dedicated her run to Montgomery and his impact on her life. “He has truly been a hero for me when I have struggled most and literally helped save my life,” Rink wrote.
What started off as simply a personal endeavor to run a half-marathon ended up being much more. Realizing that her story was worth sharing, Rink created a group on Facebook.com entitled “Support Alicia Rink’s Run for Freedom” to spread word about her plans. The group gained 527 members who left nothing but comments of encouragement and support. “We’re all so ineffably proud of you! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us; you’ve really transformed, and that’s unbelievably rare, courageous, and admirable,” commented former Warren Wilson student Jesse Friebur. Many were inspired and grateful that Rink was able to share her intimate story of struggle. “Thank you all for your support up until this point, I feel truly loved. […] All your messages have lifted my spirits and reassured me I’m meant to do this,” Rink posted the night before the event.
Rink’s final time of 2:22:15 put her in 8,119th place out of 22,000 runners. “The run itself was smooth [for] the first 8 miles but the last 5.1 were the roughest miles I ever had to push through, knowing everyone was behind me I kept on moving and finished,” Rink said. Rink hopes to compete in an Iron Man triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run, sometime in the near future.
Rink will speak for a National Eating Disorders Awareness Week event on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in Sage Café.
If one is concerned that they may have an eating disorder visit the Health Center’s Mental Health Screening link on the Inside Page or make an appointment at the Counseling Center, open from 8:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 1:00–5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.