I was brought up in an active family and have always loved sport. I played as much as possible at school and loved the camaraderie of being part of a team. It all became more serious at university when I discovered rowing. Through rowing I uncovered a part of me that thrived on competition – not necessarily with others, but with myself: a thirst to improve and challenge myself. Rowing became my primary sport and I loved it.
Moving to Sydney and the arrival of my first two children meant my sporty pursuits had to take a back seat for a short while. However it went long before my attention was peaked by an ultra event. I singed up, threw my littlest on my back and began to train. After two 100km charity walks I set about getting to the bottom of the sport I felt I hated and wasn't good at: running.
I decided to 'break the elephant down into manageable chunks' and started by running for three minutes and walking for two. Confidence grew with my fitness and I soon began entering 5 and 10km runs. These led to sprint triathlons until suddenly I realised that the sport I used to hate had become a source of fulfilment and freedom for me: the perfect antidote to the routine of domestic life.
When we moved back from Sydney I began to look around for something different. And in a clichéd turn of fate it was then that I watched a program about ultrarunning – the classic story of the Marathon des Sables. I entered the MDS on the spot and was hooked.
I now find myself setting the most ridiculous challenges, and loving the thrill of seeing just how far I can go. I’ve completed self-supported multiday races in jungles, deserts and mountains around the world. I’ve run 24-hour, 100-mile, 50-mile and back-to-back marathons and was part of the team that set the Land’s End to John O’Groats mixed foot record.
The challenge still remains of how to balance work, life and all the commitments I have with my running. Not easy, but I’ve found ways to make it work: ways of involving the family so that they too learn, share and celebrate my passion.
It is getting people into the sport that excites me most, and I have coached countless runners, athletes and mums to get the best out of themselves and take the next step – whether that be competing on the ultra-circuit or simply starting running in the first place.
IN THE PRESS
A selection of stories from the past few years.
Click on the links to view
Embodied (book contribution)
Lunges and Lycra