By 2014, competitive runner Camille Herron had already accomplished goals most athletes only dream about. A self-described marathon addict, she had won more than a dozen marathons around the country, qualified for Olympic marathon trials and set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a superhero costume for a female. She accomplished the latter when she won the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, dressed as Spider-Woman and shooting silly string while running the last mile.
With marathons conquered, Camille set her sights on longer distance races. She signed up to run her first major ultramarathon in South Africa—the Comrades 89 km race. She was running as part of a team, but she arrived by herself a few days before the race to get adjusted to the time change. She didn't feel well leading up to the race, but thinking she was just jetlagged, she ran anyway.
Running on sheer determination, Camille's pace put her in fourth place. But she didn't realize she was also running a fever, and six kilometers before the finish line she passed out and hit her head on the concrete.
"I woke up in the ER, and I had basically lost my memory," Camille says. "I didn't know who I was or where I was. I didn't know phone numbers, my own address, my own birthdate. I was born on Christmas, and I couldn't even tell them that."
"I remember telling the nurse, 'I think I'm dying.' It was really scary."
Camille had suffered a concussion from the fall. It took a few hours for her to remember who she was. Her saving grace was one of her teammates, who also had a bad day and ended up across from her in the ER. The teammate's family was able to help get Camille where she needed to go.
Camille knew about ROAD iD and had always wanted to get one, but she had put it off until that frightening experience in South Africa. She soon ordered a green one–her team's color—and added a Badge that says "fearless."
"I wear it all the time," she says. "You never know when something might happen."
After the accident, Camille needed the reminder to be fearless. She was used to bouncing back quickly from injuries, but the concussion was different. Recovery was slow. She had head pain and nausea and trouble sleeping and concentrating on her day job as a research assistant in Osteoimmunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
The concussion also affected Camille's normally positive attitude. She questioned whether her body could handle ultra racing, and she even thought about retiring from competitive running.
Finally, in December, she told herself she was going to make 2015 a better year. "I had to pick myself up and try again," she says.
Camille signed up for the MadCity 100K/USATF National Championship Race, and she crushed it. She ran the fastest time in the world in eight years. Then, she went on to win the IAU 50K and 100K World Championships that year. She also broke Ann Trason's world record for 50 miles. She started trail racing more recently, and she broke the world record for the women's 100-mile distance by over an hour in November 2017. Her 12:42:40 time is the fastest known time for 100-mile trail running for both men and women.
How does she keep pushing herself to run such long distances? Camille says she just loves to run. "It's not like work to me," she says. "It's more like fun and exploring the world with my feet. When I ran the 100-mile at Tunnel Hill, I was smiling the whole time. I've always been a happy and positive person, and it was exciting for me to keep pushing it and see what's possible."
Camille balances her training and racing time by spending time with her husband and coach Conor Holt, and their two dogs, Hawi and Winny. They like to homebrew beer—her favorite is a Belgian Trippel style. She does a lot of her training on a 10-mile path around a lake near their home in Oklahoma City.
In 2017, Camille went back to South Africa and won the 89 km marathon that almost ended her career three years prior. This time she was wearing her ROAD iD. This year, Camille is focused on setting the 24-hour run World Record, winning Comrades and Western States in the same year (they're two weeks apart), and running a 100K in under seven hours to win another World title.
"My ROAD iD reminds me of how low I've been and what I've overcome," Camille says. "And since I have a tendency to push myself to the extreme, I definitely feel safer while wearing it."