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Belgian Olympic marathoner breaks down in tears of disbelief upon hearing she finished 28th

38-year-old Mieke Gorissen had only been training for three years and the Olympics was just her third marathon.

Imagine deciding to take up a hobby that usually requires many years to perfect at age 35, and three years later ending up in the top 30 in the world at the highest international competition for it.

That's what happened to a 38-year-old math and physics teacher from Diepenbeek, Belgium. According to Netherlands News Live, Mieke Gorissen has jogged 10km (a little over six miles) a few times a week for exercise for many years. But in 2018, she decided to hire a running trainer to improve her technique. As it turned out, she was a bit of a natural at distance running.

Three years later, Gorissen found herself running her third marathon. But not just any old marathon (as if there were such a thing)—the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. And not only did she compete with the world's most elite group of runners, she came in 28th out of the 88 competing in the race.



With the heat and humidity in Tokyo, even completing the race was a major accomplishment. (Fifteen women competing did not finish the marathon.) But to come in in the top 30 when you just started focusing on distance running three years ago? Unbelievable.

In fact, Gorissen could hardly believe it herself. A video of her reaction upon hearing her results has gone viral for its purity and genuine humility. "No," she said when a reporter told her she came in 28th in the race. "That's not possible."

Then she burst into tears.

Her emotional disbelief is so moving. "I was already happy to finish the race," she said through sobs. "I do think I have reached my goal and that I can be happy."

"I also think I lost a toenail," she added, laughing.

Even after the English translation ends in the video, it's clear how much this finish meant to her. A remarkable accomplishment for a 38-year-old who knits and reads for fun and who has only run two marathons prior to competing in the Olympics.

According to her Olympic profile, she's glad she got started with distance running later in life. "If I started running in my teens, it wouldn't have been good for me," she said. "I wasn't really happy then, I would have been too hard on myself and I would have lost myself in it in a way that wasn't healthy. It came at exactly the right time."

Congratulations, Mieke. You've given us all the inspiration to set new goals and dream bigger than we ever thought possible.


This article originally appeared on 08.12.21

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Forests are downright magical.

They're where some of our favorite fables take a twist, where Mother Nature hides her most fascinating creatures, where we go to escape the manmade chaos that consumes far too much of our time.

Forests are the lungs of our world, absorbing carbon and keeping our climates stable, and the protectors of some of our most precious resources. They safeguard habitats and wildlife that allow life to move onward and even make us healthier, too; trees clean our air, lower our stress, and can actually make us happier just by beingnearby. They're spectacular.


But some forests, you might argue, are just a bit more spectacular than others.

Here are 11 otherworldly forests to remind you just how incredible life on Earth really is:

1. Bamboo Forest, Japan

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

The Sagano Bamboo Forest on the outskirts of bustling Kyoto is famous for its towering green stalks that make enchanting rustling noises in the breeze you really can't hear anywhere else. Japan's Ministry of Environment included the destination on its "100 Soundscapes of Japan" list, encouraging visitors to find some much needed tranquility by listening to the natural sound effects.

2. Otzarreta Forest, Spain

Photo via iStock.

Foggy and tucked away, the Otzarreta Forest in Basque Country flaunts some of the quirkiest trees and branches you'll see on Earth (not to mention the most gorgeous fall colors, if you time it right). Northern Spain never looked so enticing.

3.  The Blue Forest, Belgium

Photo by John Thys/AFP/Getty Images.

Hallerbos, dubbed "The Blue Forest," covers hundreds of acres in Halle. Come mid-April, the entire region blossoms with a bright underbelly of bluebells, so the forest certainly lives up to its name. See the bluebells quick, though — they die in early summer, and the forest fades back into shades of greens and browns.

4. Redwood National Park, United States

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Redwood National Park stretches alongside the northern coast of California and boasts some of the tallest, most massive trees on the planet. Its trees can live to be — get this — some 2,000 years old, sprouting from seeds that are about the same size as one from a tomato.

5. The Black Forest, Germany

Photo by Arne Dedert/AFP/Getty Images.

In the hilly southwest corner of Germany, the sprawling Black Forest covers an area nearly 100 miles north to south. Its landscapes shift hues depending on the season — Germans know the frustration and beauty that come with a bitter, dreary winter better than anyone, after all — and its pines can be so dense in certain areas that sunlight can't break through to reach the forest floor. (Which is how it got its name. Get it?)

6. Amazon rainforest, Brazil

Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images.

News flash: The Amazon Rainforest is massive. Stretching nearly from coast to coast along the northern half of South America, the Amazon holds an abundance of life like no other place. It has 390 billion trees and 2.5 million various insects, which is one of the many reasons why it's so crucial we protect it from deforestation.

7. Jiuzhaigou, China

Image via iStock.

The Jiuzhaigou takes over a vast region of Sichuan province and boasts everything from towering alpine mountains and waterfalls to pools of purplish, teal waters and coniferous trees. Maybe shoot the next "Avatar" here? (See No. 11.)

8. The Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

The Daintree Rainforest off the coast of Queensland is an incredible example of why biodiversity is so important. As many species Down Under have been isolated from other mainlands, plants and animals have adapted over time to the geography's landscapes and features in unique ways. This is incredibly helpful for scientists who want to study how and why evolution works the way it does.

9. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Photo by Aline Ranaivoson/AFP/Getty Images.

These "upside-down trees" in Madagascar are hundreds of years old and upwards of 98 feet. The avenue thankfully gained protective status in 2007, becoming the country's first national monument in an attempt to keep the area pristine for generations to come. One might argue it's not technically a forest, per se, but it's one cluster of trees too impressive to keep off the list.

10. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

Image via iStock.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — located in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world — has a whopping 755 known species of trees. A wet and tropical climate means weather there stays relatively consistent throughout the year, and committed conservation efforts means sustainability stays a big priority.

11. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.

Zhangjiajie National Forest's natural beauty and ecological importance to Asia earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it's very protected by conservation efforts. Famous in large part due to its towering, bare-rock formations, the forest was the inspiration behind some of the scenery in "Avatar."

Those were just 11 of the world's most magical forests. But really, this list could go on and on ... and on.

In fact, chances are, there's an amazing forest waiting to be explored not too far from your own front door. Safe adventuring.

Ann Glorieus was working from her home in Brussels when she heard that bombs had exploded at the city's airport and in the Maelbeek subway station.

Ann Glorieus. Photo by Monica Monte, used with permission.


Her thoughts immediately turned to the hundreds of travelers stranded by the attacks. With trains and flights on hold throughout the country, Glorieus decided to press her car into service.

"Nothing is so depressing as being stuck somewhere when all you want to do is be at home," Glorieus told Upworthy.

Glorieus was one of hundreds of Belgians who used the Twitter hashtag #IkWilHelpen ("I want to help") to offer support and services to those impacted by the bombings.

A note is left in Brussels' Place de la Bourse after the March 22 terror attacks. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Residents of Brussels and cities across the country offered rides to far-off cities, resting places, and lodging to those who were unable to get where they were going due to the shutdowns.

While many of the drivers who posted on the hashtag said they'd happily pick up passengers along their route, Glorieus went the extra mile.

A blocked highway at the Brussels airport. Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images.

According to Glorieus, she initially made two trips from her home in Brussels, driving three people to Aalst, about 30 km away. Then, she returned to the city, picked up four more people, and drove them to Antwerp, about 45 km away.

Later that evening, she made a third run, picking up four college students who were stranded in central Brussels and driving them to Antwerp, returning home close to 1 a.m.

Quinten de Raedt, one of the riders on Glorieus' second trip, told Upworthy via Twitter that none of the passengers in his group realized Glorieus was driving miles out of her way until it slipped into conversation in the car.

"She just thought she should do something for the people stuck in Brussels and decided she could play ... taxi."

Enormously grateful for the ride home, de Raedt called it an "act of pure generosity, kindness, and social responsibility."

Passengers in Glorieus' second car trip, including de Raedt (back center) and Glorieus (front right). Photo by Ann Glorieus, used with permission.

The rides, he said, along with the dozens of Belgians who were giving blood and offering refuge, were a small, unexpected source of comfort on a horrible day.

"We were all surprised at the amazing willingness of everybody to help," de Raedt said.

Glorieus said that while there was "no upside to this madness," it felt good to be able to do something.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Even something as simple as giving a lift to a few people among the hundreds in need.

"Being able to offer help is actually a plaster for my own sadness," Glorieus said. "Today it made me happy that I could bring people back home when they thought they were going to be hours before arriving home. And maybe, maybe it helps to counter all the ill will in the world."

"Although I suspect it's only a tiny drop of water on a hot plate."

On the day of the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since the November shootings in Paris, President Barack Obama gave a historic speech in Havana, Cuba — and then went to a baseball game.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.


In a mid-game interview with ESPN, Obama addressed the violence in Belgium.

"This is just one more example of why the entire world has to unite against these terrorists," Obama said. "The notion that any political agenda would justify the killing of innocent people like this is something that’s beyond the pale. We are going to continue with the over 60 nations that are pounding ISIL, and we’re going to go after them."

Later in the interview, ESPN's Karl Ravich asked Obama if he "considered not coming to the game," given the tragedy unfolding in Brussels.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The president's response should be required reading (emphasis added):

"It's always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. Particularly in this age of 24/7 news coverage, you want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation. But the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people's ordinary lives. And one of my most powerful memories, and one of my proudest moments as president, was watching Boston respond after the marathon. And when Ortiz went out and said, probably the only time that America didn't have a problem with somebody cursing on live TV, was when he talked about Boston and how strong it was and that it was not going to be intimidated. And that is the kind of resilience and kind of strength that we have to continually show in the face of these terrorists.

They cannot defeat America. They don't produce anything. They don't have a message that appeals to the vast majority of Muslims or the vast majority of people around the world. What they can do is scare and make people afraid. And disrupt our daily lives and divide us. And as long as we don't allow that to happen, we're going to be OK."

What Obama said today is true — many counterterrorism experts believe that terrorist groups like ISIS aim to terrorize us enough that we stop living our lives and start turning on each other.

A note is left in Brussels' Place de la Bourse after the March 22 terror attacks. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

With attacks like this one, organizations like ISIS aim to exacerbate the divide between the West and the Muslim world, throw suspicion on refugees, and instigate reciprocal violence that helps them recruit.

It's evolving into one of their signature tactics — and tragically, sometimes it works.

Thankfully, many of the people of Brussels were having none of it today, coming together, offering rides to people who were stranded, and chalking messages of support in public plazas even as the dust from the attacks was still settling.

It's understandable to be scared in the wake of a terror attack. But it's when we let that fear goad us into shutting down or lashing out violently against those who don't deserve it that bad things happen.

Obama is right that ISIS wants us to be scared. They want us to be looking over our shoulders all the time. Most depressingly, they want us to be suspicious of our neighbors.

Obama is right that sometimes the most powerful weapon we have is to refuse to give into fear. On days like these, that can mean the best way to not let the terrorists win is plain and simple:

Play ball.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.