The Naked Run

Kristina Paltén is a Swedish adventurer and ultra-runner. Her most famous adventure was her 2015 run through Iran. She ran 1144 miles, 59 days alone. Picture a western woman running with a baby jogger in a strict Muslim country with sharia laws! She wanted to show how the world is not occupied only of hate and mistrust but also of love and kindness.  Her mission was to create a world of peace and trust.


This interview will focus on the person behind the adventure. I did not want to do another regular interview; there have already been so many good ones. This however is an interview with the complex person behind the naked runner.

Dropping out of High School

“When I grew up as a kid in the 70’s I watched the Star Wars movies and dreamt of becoming Yoda.

Framme! I glädje klättrar jag upp så högt jag kunde komma

During her run in Iran Kristina was exposed to traffic, religious police and cultural differences – but she succeeded in proving that the world is not black and white.

He was my hero and still was as I grew up.” But as a kid Kristina Paltén felt that she could not be further away from becoming her hero. She had a deep fear of sticking out and be exposed as the failure she thought she was. She even dropped out of high school because she felt she wasn’t good enough.


But that way of living was not what life had in store for Kristina. Today she proudly stands on stage announcing to the world that she finally has become a true Jedi knight.

Fear leads to the dark side

“I am all “let’s go out and trust the world” but wearing the mind-set of a Snow Trooper. I changed it into “Go and let things happen and be open to it. That’s when I became a Yoda”

How did Kristina Paltén get from a place of fear to a place of power?


For sure by making small decisions of courage every day but the real life changing moment happened in 2015.


Not when she decided to run 1144 miles all by herself through Iran – a Muslim country with strict sharia laws. The moment occurred during her final preparations; a run she has decided to be a tribute to trust. Suddenly she realized she was about to do the opposite.


“I always wanted to be like Yoda. But I realized that in my primarily preparations for Iran I was becoming more of a Storm Trooper. My mind was filled with fear; fear of being raped, beaten up or people throwing rocks at me. Then I remember what Yoda said: Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”.


That was the moment Kristina realized how she was about to set out on a mission to create more trust in the world – but at the same time not showing any trust in herself or the people she would meet along the dusty miles in Iran.

A friend of God

By changing her mind set she agreed to not only letting her guard down but to completely throw it away. Instead of letting fear determine her preparations she chose to trust the people she was about to meet.

“I think the world is experiencing an increasing xenophobia and fear. This fear is mainly between the Muslin world and the Western world. So I did what I always do: Put on my shoes and run. And put all my trust into the hands of strangers.”

And so her journey began. 1144 miles through a country where she didn’t understand the language, couldn’t read the road signs and being followed by the secret police.


“I realized very soon that by being trust, by acting trust – trust was created. Not only in the persons I met but also in thousands of people around the world”, says Kristina about the massive attention her run got in social media.


Instead of throwing rocks or showing resentment the Iranians welcomed her to their country.


In Iran traditionally a guest is a friend of God, and a fried of God is treated with the best seat at the table, the biggest pieces of meat and the most comfortable bed to sleep in.

Becoming Yoda

As an introvert person public events is really outside her comfort zone. But along the way Kristina realized how what she was doing gave others the courage to cross their own comfort zones.

“The true core of humankind is love. To follow your heart is the same as following the will of the force. And by being focused on what I wanted to create, by letting myself be vulnerable, by not letting fear stop me – I got access to that force and I became that Jedi that I actually always had been “, says Kristina about becoming her childhood hero.


According to Kristina we all can become a Jedi. We all have access to that force if we let ourselves be vulnerable and use fear as a drive to fulfil our dreams but never letting it stop us.


“The greatest gift we can give to the world is to accomplish the dream we have in our hearts. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. But when we do – that’s when we create a world of trust, peace and love”, says Kristina Paltén.

Find the force within you

To fulfil your dream you must have the courage to take action. Take baby steps if you like. It doesn’t matter as long as you do something. However just as Kristina Paltén (and Heidi Droescher read the interview here) found out; to reach your goal you have to let go.

Som sagt, på en Zamyad kan man lasta hur mycket som helst!

Billedtekst: “I must be the most selfish person in the world but I cannot live my life according to some one else’s fear. I want to live it the way I want to live it”


This final step is hard to explain – but it´s very similar to the old saying about love: Don’t look for love it will look for you. Often when you really, really try it doesn’t happen. Like finding love, becoming a Tony Robbins special coach or a Jedi. But the second you relax, stop over controlling and just let life flow – then magic happens and you will reach your goal.


Kristina describes it as a moment where you stop searching on the outside and look for the power within yourself. Let go and be open to what the world has in store for you.


“I have seen people challenge themselves and succeed so many times that it is impossible to NOT believe in peoples unlimited abilities. Sadly this amazing ability also can be used for bad stuff like creating war. We have the power to do good and evil. Every day I see examples of how amazing we are. It is up to yourself if you want to use your force or not use it at all.”

What is Love?

“Some people seem to get it all wrong and make a gender twist onto my adventures. I have heard them say that I only did this run instead of having children. You would never say that about a guy. And secondly; no! I did not run through Iran or paddle the Pite River instead of having children. But I guess it just shows how stuck many of us are in our perception of things.”

Kristina Paltén has a strong passion for life and truly loves herself. As she points out; loving yourself also means loving other people. In as much we are different we are also very much the same.


“Love is basic when you strive for being the best version of yourself. Love is essential when you fail at being that best self and then self-compassion is the key to further growth.


And trust me on this one; there are many bumps on that road! But what is the alternative?


Allowing yourself to shrink, to be small and not believe in your capabilities and abilities? To me that is not love”, says Kristina Paltén.


Selfishness is the motivation

What motivates you to run through Iran, paddling wild rivers and setting world records?

“I am motivated by personal growth, which is pure selfish. We often associate the word “selfish” with a negative behaviour but actually it is very important to be selfish. It means you are listening to your inner voice and are true to yourself. Pure selfishness and altruism is the same thing”, Kristina explains.


To Kristina it is fundamental to be truthful; to be real. When she set the world record on the treadmill she put herself in a situation of extreme exhaustion and fatigue. In such a situation it was impossible for her to be anything else that her true, naked self.

We are on the road - med Marands löparklubb

“We underestimate ourselves. I have seen people who hardly ever have run more than a few kilometres run an ultra-marathon. They do things because they believe they can.”

“Sometimes it feels like people don’t want me change their way of thinking. Because if I am right – God forbid – they might have to change their view of the world. To some people that is just too much”.

Leading by example

“I cannot pretend to be another person. What I can do however is focusing my energy to create a situation that is as good as possible for me under the existing conditions.

It is the same mind set I have when it comes to the world we live in. There are racism, contempt and hatred; all the opposite of what I want. So I focus on creating trust, acceptance and love”, says Kristina Paltén.


When Kristina ran through Iran she showed the world what she wanted by leading by example. By doing that she exposed herself, she was “naked”.


3 Things you can learn from Kristina Paltén

  • Becoming Yoda.

    Let things go. Relax and let life flow to you and through you. Have the calm and courage to see what life has in store for you. Instead of chasing Yoda. Let Yoda come to you.

  • Dare to be vulnerable

    When you read her book or watch the documentary you see a nakedness that is very rare. There is no makeup. No plucked eyebrows. She sweats and smells and goes to the toilet. But this is exactly why Kristina is a true Yoda. She doesn’t pretend to be someone she is not. And by having the courage to be honest to herself her journey is relevant to every human on the planet.

  • Trust the force and believe in yourself

    Know that you possess an almost limitless power – if you set your mind to it. Don’t expect someone else to stop by and save the world. You might not want to run 59 days alone but you certainly have the power to make a change in your corner of the world. Don’t sit on your couch and look passively at how thing are. Get up, go out and change it for the better. You have more power that you think.


If you want to learn more about Kristina’s amazing run through Iran there are plenty resources available. Just do a quick search on the internet and you will find plenty. Or scroll down this page and click on some of the links. Or why not read her book? It is available in five different languages.


Recommended Links:

If you want to know more then go on and read her book:

All pictures in this post are from Kristina Paltén.


Previous articles in the series  Good Girls go to HeavenBecomming a Jungle PilotThe Long Goodbye   and Astronaut Jessica Meir.


Bringing More Courage to the World – One Post at a Time

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