Gabriella Mathisen has always dreamed of justice and great adventures. The dreams have followed her through a tragic childhood, the heroin crack that never broke her, and the pimps she caught up with. Gabriella is shamelessly proud of the past that has given her the future she dreamed of.

She completed the Namib Race in 2021 and has her sight set on completing all 4 Deserts Ultras - next up is the Atacama Crossing. Runners World Norway covered her story.



Gabriella realized early on that there was something wrong with growing up, and cycled for miles in her childhood while dreaming of Alaska's forests and bears. Now she lives in Folldal with the bull terrier Lillemann, and lives out her dreams.

There are many extreme stories in the ultra world, but there is none like Gabri ella. A-magazine published an article in 2020 which is now being expanded to a book, but Gabriella is more than the story that can be written. She is strong, present, alive and calm. Everything she did not have the conditions to stay.

- I get really offended when people say you run from your problems.

Gabriella hiccups and laughs. For her, intoxication and dreams were the escape, while running is to face the problems straight to repair themselves.

Gabriella is a generous, nimble and moody runner with huge dreams, and who can laugh with joy on a run among Folldal's mountains. But then she has also spent parts of her life in the dark where the rest of us have only seen the midnight sun.

- I had not chosen any of it away, she says laid back and calm. The dark hair surrounds a relaxed pet face with a watchful eye.

- I have become a very strong character. Spacious, loving and good at seeing other people. And then I've become really tough and fearless. I do not see any limitations in things.

Gabriella smiles a lot and often hiccups with laughter so her shoulders shake. With both seriousness and gallows humor, she tells quite openly about her former self, the one that is difficult to imagine: She who grew up with a mentally ill and drug-using mother who in illness could not do anything with all the love she had for the children.

His father was unstable and alcoholic with a violent temper, but even his behavior Gabriella wants to reconcile with. She will not contribute to more hatred.

We are mostly lucky here in Norway, but it is people we do not see, growing up who pass us by.

Children who do not have a house to live in, but who move 28 times between caravans and winter-cold houseboats, and taste the pills in the bathroom cupboard before they have turned 13. The four older siblings were approached by the child welfare service, but when they finally arrived for Gabriella, she had turned 14 and had taken care of herself and her mother for years.

Found bottles she could pawn, and picked copper from containers she could get a few kroner for at the scrap dealer.

She changed primary school three times before she never started secondary school, but got a job at a tire workshop where her boss abused her.

It became a survival mechanism for young, angry, restless Gabriella who had no food at home and who saw the opportunity.

- I say it straight out, since I had first been abused, so damn, then I could just as well make money on it too.

This is the integrity that lies at the bottom of Gabriella. No matter how dark it has been and no matter how ugly people have treated her, she has doubted her self-esteem and found an element of control. From weightlifting with anabolic.

Mathisen never lost his integrity. The back degree has been bent but never broken.

Life and death

 I have lost so many around me and was about to die so many times myself that I do not take life for granted. I have to live life now, while I live, says Gabriella

She describes life as a gift we receive once. Death is an old friend who has knocked on the door in many forms. Gabri ella knows both well, and takes seriously the duty she feels to make life the greatest adventure she can.

- I have long ago survived things others had not survived. So now I have nothing to prove, she says and chuckles in a characteristic, dark voice.

The one she used to be - before her two closest ones died, her cousin from cancer and her aunt from suicide five days later. Before she went to Spain to take a cold turkey.

- It did not go so well. I ended up in brothels and stuff - the lifestyle did not quite fit, she says and laughs out loud.

Before she changed her name, and before she ran into all her problems. She can talk about the person with loving distance, almost as far away from her as we who now meet her over a cup of coffee or get to know her at the shop in Folldal center.

In treatment at Modum bath, she was encouraged to notice the details around her. The smell of the coffee, the feeling of the cup. She moved this out into nature where she heard the herring in the stream, the feeling that her body mastered running. Although in the name of unrest she has always run around a lot, the plan was not to become a runner.

- When I stopped using drugs, there was never an alternative to turn back. I use tea intoxication only to survive day to day, it was nothing else. My big dreams also made me more destructive, because I was not allowed to live out the person I felt I had inside me.

What Gabriella says sounds too painful to be true, but it is also unreal that the person sitting in front of us is the same person. It comes from a lot of praying and more running.

- When I ran out in the wind and rain, I was really renewed. Then I fought and got everything out

Gabriella looks very much up to Catra Corbett - - another ultra runner who's on no way fits into the norm. She has run over one hundred 100 mile races, been on the podium in 50 ultra races and holds several sensational FKT-er.

In addition, she is open about and proud of her past as a go-go dancer, and as a drug addict who has put the drug behind: herself and paths in front of her. It should not be confused with replacing intoxication with running.

Catra says that intoxication keeps you trapped, while running is a choice. Now, as an ultra-runner, Gabriella chooses to live out the person she feels has always been inside her, and can replace old traumas.

- I decided to replace the memory card, and the new memories have taken up more space in me, she says calmly.

I feel I can live out the attitude I have. In Namibia I was so fat because there were so many ups and downs.


In October, Gabriella went to Namibia to run a 250-kilometer stage race through open desert landscape.

- To debut on an ultra run in a desert in over 50 degrees - it's a bit violent, she says, and when she laughs, she hiccups so the breath is drawn in with the shoulders shaking.

- I suited it so well, and just thought to h << why have I not done this before? »>

Fourth place is in itself an enormous achievement, but Gabriella thinks she lost a lot due to lack of experience, and has plans to climb the results lists in the coming races. In advance, it was Catra Corbett who was the only natural person for her to contact for tips.

The only one she could relate to, and who gave advice and encouragement so the faith in the project was strengthened.

- When I have decided on something, it is decided. There is no desert that can crack me

After all, Gabriella has seen worse things, and when she talks about these high peaks and deep valleys, she gestures with great movements.

Her left arm extends far, while her right arm does not reach further than the point it was amputated from when she as an 18-year-old trained hard to defend her mother and herself against her father, and the syringe with anabolic steroids was put wrong. The rabid teenager was placed in an artificial coma for three weeks to survive the amputation, while 250 sea kilometers through the desert can not Gal catch up with today's Gabriella.

What she thought was coolest about the race was to see what happens when the body becomes completely exhausted.

- It feels like my body does not want more, but it was such a cool feeling to take back control and decide that I will move forward

That mastery gave so much taste that she wants to be the first Norwegian woman to complete all the races in the Racing the Planet series - - four races through the world's most inhospitable places.

Two more, Atacama and Antarctica, are planned in 2022 as long as she gets more sponsors who can decorate her equipment with the sweater from Pro Sentret.


Since 1983, the Pro Center has offered help to people with experience from prostitution.

- Even if you have been a prostitute, it is one thing you have done, nothing one is. One should not be ashamed, says Gabriella enthusiastically.

She has become preoccupied with shame and that prostitution must be talked about so that girls get rid of the feeling of shame. Other people should not judge someone as a prostitute, because it only applies to oneself.

- If there is anyone who should be ashamed, it is menna, she says and laughs with her whole body.

She describes prostitution as something personal. A threshold in itself that you step over and that goes straight to the small self. That the girls feel it is their own fault, feel dirty and have trampled on self-respect. Therefore, Gabriella talks openly about it to show that she has been a prostitute, but is not ashamed.

It is important that someone stands up so other girls see that it is possible to talk about it.

The white sweater with the center's name on the chest should be donated back as a symbol of what is possible. The sweater that has as much sand braided between the threads as the judgment permeates society. It's always easier to judge a prostitute you know nothing about, but it's hard to judge the person - like Gabriella sitting in front of you with all her generous, honest openness.


The 177 centimeter tall body with tattoos and amputated arm carries its past with pride. Gabriella's courage and history have touched many who want to support her work and dreams. To get to these big desert races, she needs more sponsors, and hopes the attention from, among other things, the book that is written about her leads to all the more possibilities.

- There is no one who wants to walk along the asphalt without dignity. Nobody wants to live like that. There is a reason for that.

Gabriella never fit into the drug environment with her righteous sense that quarreled with older drug addicts and had to defend the younger girls.

Moreover, intoxication, like dreams, was an escape that took her from abuse in her teens to brothels in Spain, and all the way down Karl Johan from hotels. to behind the fortress park. That was enough. Then the intoxication also had to end.

 - I remember I sat with a syringe in the groin and cried while I put the shot. I really hate it. It's a rush, but I really hate it. I always felt it was spiritual suicide. I went in the drug bubble, but it did not quite take me. In the end, I decided - are you going to rush or take are you going to take your life.

- So when I stopped using drugs, I decided to live.

After all, there is no desert, spray or pimp who can crack Gabri her.

- If you have faith in it yourself, then you can you you. I was completely ghetto, I, lived on street in a cardboard box, and there was no one like that had faith in me. I was pale, thin and had syringes everywhere, but I had them believe in myself.


Name: Gabriella Mathisen (took new name)
Age: 34 years
Lives: Folldal, by Rondane
Sponsored by and running in: Hoka, Pro Sentret.
Biggest role model: Catra Corbett @DirtyDiva333
Dreams: Complete all four races | Racing the Planet as the first Norwegian woman. Want to contribute to less shame and injustice.
Instagram: @gabriellamathisen

Dreams and the slums

In Namibia, she found herself as an ultra-runner, and understood how much lives in her. - I have been through so many things I have not had control over in life - wrongly finished treatment, the way I have grown up - but what I can control myself, I want to do for the best. The life I grew up with should not be allowed to take my life.

Gabriella stayed in Namibia for a week after the race and typically talked to Clifton, a guy who worked long hours at the restaurant she ate at.

She shared her food with him, and when he invited her home to the slums, she took race organizer Riitta Hanninen with her, and they helped him spread slices of bread with peanut butter to a hundred children. In their eyes she saw the same integrity and pride she has always had with her.

The integrity she doubted even when her father beat her mother to hurt Gabriella, and the courage she gathered when she promised her aunt that she would not die of heroin.

After all, Gabriella had the choice of life, something her cancer-stricken cousin did not have. It is this integrity that has survived everyone who has failed her, and that makes her have to complete the goals she sets.

- I do not have room for me to also fail myself.

If you only see the cut-off gloves on the cold hands of an outsider and not the person behind the ghetto facade, you will miss their lives, which can be your enrichment. And right there, Gabriella is the richest.

The adventurous dreams she has will touch and enrich those she crosses paths with in Chile, Antarctica or Folldal.

Should you ever doubt your own dreams, remember what a just and shameless girl has achieved before you.

- I have really seen in my life that you can get what you want. And only the dead fish follow the current.