What is a Unicorn?

By Tory

We get this question frequently. We speak in Unicorn, are inspired by the concept of Unicorn, and live our life in harmony with what it means to be one. Too often, we assume the general public understands what we are talking about. 

It began as a feeling while circumnavigating a volcano. We had experienced the pure joy in exploring mountains and trails before, but that day around the volcano felt different. We felt something rare and indescribable. We felt liberated to express our authentic selves. We felt connected to each other, ourselves, and the world around us. We felt detached from societal expectations. We felt like Unicorns. 

“You can’t sit with us. Circumnavigate with us.”

Team Unicorn became a metaphor for how we choose to live our lives. Team Unicorn has become the term to describe how we feel running, adventuring, exploring the mountains and getting through life - mostly when we are altogether. Team Unicorn is the experience and feeling one gets when being unconditionally supported by like minded humans. It’s the feeling of expressing your authentic self and being supported no matter what. Unicorns have the ability to help others express their authentic self - simply because unicorns support other unicorns. On Team Unicorn there is no judgement, no expectation, and no pace to keep up with. Unicorns are trending, and we have surrendered.

Life’s not all rainbows, unicorns, and volcanoes. Yet, I’m beginning to see how it can be. As a member of Team Unicorn, have I learned that by surrounding myself with unconditionally supportive and inspiring humans, it is easier and more fun to accomplish the impossible. Surround yourself with those who bring out the best in you and watch the world change. The essence of team unicorn may have been highlighted by our immersion in the ultra running community - a community filled with endless inspiration and unconditional support. However, Unicorn status does not equate with running hundreds of kilometres and exploring the mountains. It is practicing the lessons we learn while taking risks with those that support us. It is a metaphor for life.

12 Signs You are a Member of Team Unicorn:

  1. You embrace what you are die hard passionate about. Not because it makes you look cool (because likely it does not), but because it makes you come alive. It’s in your heart, and you’ve learned how to listen to that thing.
  2. You can find humour in the most challenging of circumstances. You can laugh “when you didn’t think you had the energy to even smile.” - Tara Berry
  3. You are a humanist or a feminist, or both. 
  4. You are self aware and grateful to those that call you out on your sh*t
  5. Crewing and pacing your friends does not only apply to ultra running races - but in everyday life. For example, you are more excited for others’ accomplishments than your own.
  6. You share snacks (cue AMJW) and backcountry gpx files
  7. Mainstream society confuses you sometimes (and this may explain why cocktail parties make you feel uncomfortable). 
  8. Your 'Zone of Optimal Development' is nowhere near your Zone of Comfort. You have forgotten what your 'comfort zone' feels like. 
  9. Dirt cleans the soul. (Failure is the precursor for success)
  10. Sometimes (most times) you just want to introvert. 
  11. Camaraderie trumps winning (cue Jornet and Schlarb at Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run 2016). Numbers are used to measure time on feet, distance, or climbing - not for ranking, speed, or status.
  12. You are not entirely sure what German Sparkle music is, but you want to listen and learn more.

“We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves.” - The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly.  I am lucky to have found my Team Unicorn. The team I am privileged to be a part of consists of humans who inspire and support me no matter what. Unsurprisingly they are mostly female endurance runners and/or passionate mountain enthusiasts. They push themselves because they know that is where the growth occurs. They are not afraid to suffer, even as painful as that may be. I encourage you to seek out your own Team Unicorn. Whether you want to run 100 miles, study tadpoles, or play board games until 4am. Chances are there are other inspiring Unicorns seeking to embrace and share your crazy ideas. The best place to find your team is by continuing to pursue what you love.

 That circumnavigation though... photo credit: Tara Holland 

That circumnavigation though... photo credit: Tara Holland