Winning Women at the London Marathon 2019

Extraordinary women – being extraordinary

I’m at the London Marathon press event and have had the privilege of interviewing Vivian Cheruiyot, last year’s Virgin London Marathon winner, and Mary Keitnay, 2017 winner, quadruple NYC Marathon victor and if she nails it Sunday, quadruple London winner, a record previously held by Ingrid Kristaniansen.

I was in good company today, running a bit late I plonked myself down in the back row, next to Paul Radcliffe, and Steve Cram (obviously I shared details about my business with Paula, after all this is the year of Endurance Women).

I’ll share my interviews later when I’ve had time to edit them. But for all endurance women be inspired by these mothers, focussed, in control and inspiring us all, stretching beyond what we would ever thought possible.

Mary told the London Marathon that she’d ‘like to reach where she’d never reached before…’ A philosophy we at Endurance Women applaud.

Keep watching and keep tuning into Endurance Women.


Fab Four Take on Ironman Nice

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

I was truly inspired by these four ordinary women being extraordinary.

Fran, 47 (she said 48), works full-time running a team of personal trainers at a busy Brighton gym; Sally, 45, is part-time personal trainer and mother of four children; Sara, 46, works for a cycling brand and is mum of two girls, one of whom is doing her GCSEs and the other making her debut on a West End stage; and Sheena, 56, a children’s nurse, was a self-declared couch potato and a size 20 just eight years ago, before taking up marathon running. All four were doing Ironman and all four finished with smiles on their faces.

In this video they share how working in a group helped them, how important it is to have the support of your family, the all consuming joy and passion of training for a big event, and how having a coach helped them. They also exude why endurance sport can change you for the better, from the inside out, combatting anxiety, old habits, fears and learning new skills.

Watch and be inspired!


Kona Mum on a Mission

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Celia Boothman, 42, runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service and is based in Wales. The mum of two boys, Devon, 11 and Milo, eight, qualified for Kona after completing IronMan Wales in 2016. Despite coming off her bike in Kona, the iron woman soldiered on and completed the world champ race in 11.09. She continues to race, train and coach others and is soon launching training weekends for other triathletes.

It’s a good thing Celia says one of her strengths is keeping calm under pressure. After addicated training programme in the build up to the race of her life, the Kona World Triathlon Championships, she crashed her bike, and was flung over the handlebars. But never one to give, up Celia went on to finish the race and gained second place GB athlete in the 40 to 45 age group.

Based in Ironman Wales country, Celia runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service from her family home.  ‘I focus on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes,’ she says. ‘I love working with people who enjoy being outdoors, who love to train and are available to train and have a no fuss attitude to performance.’  Services she offers included one to one coaching, online training and nutrition packages as well as rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition.

‘I was an active, outdoorsy child and I still love being outside,’ she says. Running is a strength, (she ran a 3.31 in an IronMan marathon), ‘I’ve run from a very early age, managing to get into the cross country team and race against the boys. I loved mud and racing,’ she says. Even though she always a competent runner, Celia had to work harder to master cycling, but time trials and time on the bike helped her reach a high standard, including winning the Welsh National 100 Mile time trial in 2014.’

In her younger years, Celia worked as an outdoor instructor in North Wales, which is where she learnt to perfect her ability to keep calm under pressure and stay in the moment. ‘Once climbing I was with a guy who couldn’t complete a traverse on the route that we were on. I had no choice but to go ahead and take over. I think keeping calm and just looking what had to be done in that moment really helped,’ she says. After doing a degree in textiles, Celia settled on a career in teaching before going to marry and have children.

‘In 2005, now married with two kids we decided to move to Wales – and this marked the start of my new life. I’d always run to keep fit but the time came to join a running club, but the average age was a fair bit older.  So looking for friendships with like-minded people I went along to the triathlon club as I’d heard there were younger members there. My triathlon career started with a super sprint and as time went by, I gradually built up the distance and did more racing. My first proper focussed race was the Anglesey Sandman in 2012 (olympic distance) – it was televised and I won it. I started to realise I was quite good at this and decided to follow a plan for the Slateman olympic distance race, another tough race. A half ironman followed this and by 2014, I was ready to take on my first Ironman.

‘For the first IronMan, I was self-coached, tapping into resources such as Joe Friel’s Training Bible and Your Best Triathlon books. I love to learn and have passion for reading books and podcasts. It took discipline to train by myself but I do quite like to train alone and with young children I had to fit it in when I could. I worked strategies to manage my time around family life, for example, getting up very early to go swimming. However, I didn’t burn the candle at both ends and made sure I was always in bed by 930pm. When training for Kona in 2017 I typically trained around 14 hours per week, but I did hit 25 on one occasion. 

‘The key to successfully completing training was always good planning,’ she says. ‘I’ll always have kit ready the night before if I’m getting up early. Often, I’d use dead travel time to train, for example I’d get my husband to drop me off on the way to or from a day out.’

As well as loving to learn, and train, Celia loves to cook and over the years she’s become more interested in nutrition. ‘Getting fuel right for triathlon training, particularly Ironman is so important. Like my training I always plan the family’s meals and try to keep it simple and healthy and ensure we always have a balanced meal such as a roast, stews with loads of veg, and we eat a lot of veggie meals. We shop at the supermarket, the farmer’s market and we have our vegetables delivered,’ she adds. ‘I used to watch my mother cooking and it’s something I love to do.’ But when it comes to training I do have to eat on the go and will choose peanut butter and rice cakes, left-over meat or oily fish with some pitta bread – but I won’t choose junk.’

I always like to have a goal and I believe that when I’m coaching someone they should have a goal but also love what they’re doing, and do it because they want to, not because someone else has told them they should. Training to be a coach was the natural progression. ‘I started off with the British Triathlon Level 2 coaching then followed this with other personal training qualifications. I launched Love the Rain in 2014,’ she says. Why Love the Rain? ‘I love being outdoors, I love being in the elements – if you love the rain you love life.’

As a coach Celia’s focus is on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes. She provides online training and nutrition packages and rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition. Find out about her services here and download a free IronMan Training Schedule, here.

Bump, Bike & Baby: Endurance Woman Author

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Mum to Aran four, and Cahal two, Moire O’Sullivan, 42 is author of Bump, Bike & Baby. She lives in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland and is married to Pete Power, 48. Fiona Bugler met her to talk about being an endurance woman, an author and mum of two.

Tell us about youR life pre kids?

‘I’ve always been an advendurer. Before having children, I worked in the charity sector, and lived and worked full-time in Kenya for seven years before picking up employment in Vietnam, Nepal, and Cambodia. Even when I was technically living at home in Ireland, I ended up travelling on assignment to places as far flung as Afghanistan, Rwanda, Bangladesh, and East Timor.

‘I took up mountain running at the age of 30. As well as winning Ireland’s Mountain Running Championship in 2007 and 2008, in 2009 I became the first person to complete the Wicklow Round (after a failed attempt in 2008), a 100K circuit of Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains covering twenty-six summits to be completed within 24 hours. I subsequently wrote about my Wicklow Round battles in the book, ‘Mud, Sweat and Tears – An Irish Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery.’

And then you had kids… how does the story progress?

‘When Pete, my husband, and I suggested to others that we wanted to start a family, everyone was sceptical that we could pull it off. We had such busy lives already that no one could figure out how we would find the time to fit in kids also.

‘Having children changed life. In three small words – an awful lot.  Though initially I thought I would go back to work, I didn’t in the end. My husband and I did the sums, we discussed how we ultimately wanted to raise our two children, and in the end we decided that I would stay at home to mind our two boys. I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mum, but I must admit it’s worked out well in the end.

‘Because I have a lot less free time on my hands now with two boys to take care of, I am much more focused when it comes to training and racing. Before I might hear about a Saturday event during the week and decide spontaneously to do it. Now I plan all my races at the beginning of the year for the coming 12 months.

‘Straight after my first child, Aran, was born, I also started working with a coach, Eamonn Tilley, to help me get back in shape. Having a coach means that all my training now has a specific purpose and is designed to reach my racing goals. Gone are the days when I go for a run or a bike just for a bit of fun and a wander.’

How did you manage sport through pregnancy?

‘During my first pregnancy, I forced myself to keep going as long as I could. I bought a new road bike when I was 12 weeks pregnant and joined a new cycling club. I competed in a five-hour adventure race when I was nearly five months gone. I kept running until my third trimester when I got a horrible stitch and gave myself a scare. I even went orienteering when I had only a month left. I was effectively in denial, desperate to do as much as I could before the baby came along.

‘Second time around I was much more sensible. I listened to my coach Eamonn and did the gentler sessions he suggested. The most racing I did this time around was a 5k at 25  weeks. I was also far too tired to be doing any crazy training or racing. I was too busy running after Aran, who was by then an active toddler. Having a toddler in the house while pregnant can sometimes feel like competing in an arduous endurance race!’

You clearly love the great outdoors – what is it you most enjoy?

‘I love the solitude that I only seem to find in the mountains, the fact that I can have the whole place to myself within a few minutes of leaving the nearest car park. I love the challenge of being in the wilderness, of finding my way using just a map and compass so that I end up in places few frequent. I also enjoy the chance to learn humility when the great outdoors decide that they don’t want me around, chasing me away with bad weather or inclement terrain.’

What are your sporting-career highlights?

‘I am really proud of winning Ireland’s National Adventure Race Series three times. My two children, Aran and Cahal, were born in 2013 and 2015, and I won the series in the intervening years, in 2014 and 2016, while I was still breastfeeding both of them. Curious to see how fast I could go when not breastfeeding, I lined up again in 2017 and managed to retain the title, winning four races out of four in the process.’

What’s been your biggest challenge in sport?

‘Self-belief was an issue for years. When I saw how long a race was, or the type of elite athletes who had registered, I often told myself that I wasn’t good enough to participate. I was very lucky, however, in that I had friends who, at critical junctures, told me to stop being ridiculous and encouraged me to at least have a go. Of course, there were times I crashed and burned, but I learned a lot from turning up and giving it my best.

‘I’ve been mountain running now for over a decade, so self-belief is less of an issue. Now it’s more a case of battling with the fact that I know how much a race is going to hurt. I realize that, back when I started mountain running, ignorance was actually bliss.’

Tell us about writing and your inspiration?

‘My first book, Mud, Sweat and Tearswas written in 2009, the same year that I did the Wicklow Round. Completing the Round taught so much about myself that I wanted others to know how amazing mountain running is and how much you can grow personally through the sport. As I said in the book, ‘I’m proud that I’m not someone who says, “I can’t do that.” I’m someone who says, “I won’t know until I try”… I hope that more women learn to believe in themselves, because when we dig deep, it’s amazing what lies inside.’ I looked for publishers for two years before finally deciding to self-publish in 2011.’

‘Six years on, when I decided to write Bump, Bike and Baby, I sent a submission to the Scottish publisher, Sandstone Press. By then, I had only written the first two chapters. On the basis of these six-thousand words, they gave me a contract and I finished the book within three months. Bump, Bike and Baby is the book I’d have liked to have read before becoming pregnant. It is a warts and all account of pregnancy and becoming a mum. In it, I admit that, though indeed becoming a parent is an incredible experience, the whole process can really test you to the core. For example, there is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. Neither of my kids slept through the night until they were eighteen months old. Women athletes also need to know that they may suffer from various childbirth-related side effects such as stress incontinence and mastitis, both of which hit me hard while racing post-childbirth.’

Do you always have a goaL?

‘I’ve always got something I’m aiming for, whether it is to race or write a book or raise a family. Training-wise, I’m preparing to do the Denis Rankin Round this summer. This is a mountain running challenge like the Bob Graham Round or Wicklow Round but is set in the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. It is a ninety-kilometer course with 6,500 metres of ascent covering 39 peaks that must be completed within 24 hours.

‘I’ve also written another book entitled the Asian Adventures of Tom the Dog that I’m currently submitting to publishers. It’s about our dog, Tom, who we rescued from certain death in Hanoi, Vietnam while my husband and I were working there. Tom then joined us on a whirlwind tour of Asia, where he dodged rabid street-dogs in Cambodia, blood sucking leeches in Nepal, and corrupt customs officials at various borders before finally returning home with us to Ireland in 2012.’

When do you find time to write/train – what’s a typical day like for Moire?

‘I get up when my youngest Cahal decides to get up, which can be anything from a 4am to a lie-in at 7am. Household duties fill my time until I drop Aran to playgroup and Cahal to a wonderful local childminder at 9am. I then have the rest of the morning to do my training, whether that is a bike ride, run, or time on the rowing machine. I collect the kids around noon and bring them home for lunch. By 2pm, we’re out again, this time to the beautiful nearby Kilbroney Park, which was the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’s Narnia in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There we walk Tom our dog while the boys ride their bikes. If there is time, we’ll pop into the playground for a while.

‘When we get home, Cahal might have dropped off to sleep, which gives me an hour or two to do some writing or marketing for my current book. Before I know it, it’s time to cook dinner and do the usual bath, book, and bed routine before we’re all in bed by 9 pm.’

Do you focus on nutrition/health in general – if so what do you do? 

‘It’s really important for me to eat properly if I want to train and race competitively. Occasionally my coach gets me to keep a full week’s food diary to make sure I’m getting enough calories, consuming the right kinds of food, and that I’m eating frequently (at least every three hours) throughout the day. I also make sure that I cook everything from scratch so I know exactly what I’m eating.

‘My other agenda is to create good healthy eating habits in the house so that my two boys eat well too. I don’t think there is a parent who isn’t worried about the current obesity crisis. I know, however, that if I want the boys to enjoy broccoli, sweet potatoes, and chicken, then they have to see me eating them as well. Of course, there is room for the occasional ice-cream, but that is definitely only an occasional treat!

Do you use any mental tricks for endurance?

‘For challenges like the 24 hour Rounds, it would wreck your head if you thought about the enormity of the course. Such a thought would probably prevent me from even attempting! It therefore becomes a case of breaking it down to each mountain top and getting into a rhythm of: one, go uphill; two, eat something while ascending; three, check the map and compass before the summit; four, hit the summit; five, run down other side in the right direction, and doing this over and over again until you’re finished.

‘If things get tough I just think that, if I keep going, at least I’ll be closer to the finish and one step closer to home. The idea of going home, having a cup of tea and hanging out with the family is enough to keep me going.

What does a typical training week look like?

‘My coach thankfully takes all the thinking out of my training. He develops plans based on my suggested races and then uploads them to a shared spreadsheet that I fill in on a daily basis. I typically train two hours in the morning with fifteen to thirty minutes of strength and conditioning in the evening. I rest on Saturdays, and on Sundays I’ll do a maximum of three hours. I very rarely skip training unless I have an injury or no one to mind the kids. Having a coach who’s checking up on my Garmin data means I daren’t skip a session!’

Spartan Obstacle Racing Empowers Women


Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Emily LeRoux, is the driving force behind Spartan Women and the newly appointed global ambassador for Spartan Races. She talked to me about Spartan and how it helps empower women.

‘In my early 20s I was a rower. I trained with other women and we were empowered as we managed work and new careers with rowing and we pushed ourselves hard in Salford Keys in Manchester. By the time I met my husband, got married and had children (I’ve got two boys who are now aged seven and four), I found rowing was too time consuming, work was demanding more of my time and of course I had young children to care for. I kept fit with mountain biking and some running.

‘Seven years ago work with a global recruitment company, Michael Page, gave me an opportunity to move to Japan. I launched a running club after work and it was a great way to socialise and break down cultural barriers, we had 120 members and organised two races a year. I’m passionate about empowering women and noticing a lack of support in business I also set up the networking circle, ‘Mums In Business Tokyo’. It whilst in Japan that I also discovered Cross Fit, going three or four times a week to keep fit, and it was there that I became immersed in a fantastic ex-pat community, including Joe De Senna, the current CEO of Spartan. Spartan came along at just the right time for me.

‘I’m now the driving force behind Spartan Women and I work on partnerships and sponsorships.  There’s no typical working week for me and I’m lucky enough to work at home as well as one day a week in the office. I also travel, for example, going to the Stade de France for a weekend of Spartan training.

‘Like a lot of busy women, I fit in exercise where I can, for example after dropping the boys to school going to the gym for an hour or two, and squeeze in my run. I prefer to get my training done in the morning and I always take two days off a week. It makes a big difference if I have a Spartan race ahead, a goal to aim for, as this means I have to train and every week and that make a plan.

All-round fitness

‘I’m not that keen on running, but that’s not a problem where Spartan is concerned. All you need is to be able to run 5K and have a decent all-round fitness, strength and flexibility (which you’ll get from going to the gym regularly or going to classes). The thing that makes Spartan great is that you will always be supported by others. Spartan courses offer a level playing field where  you can excel in different parts and there are no barriers; it’s open to all, old, young, able or not able bodied, male and female.

Strong from Spartan

‘Spartan can mean different things to different people. There are age group competitors who are super-fit and others who just join in for fun. I love the fact that I’m able to move quickly along the monkey bars. Before Spartan this was something I thought I’d left behind me in the playground.

‘I’ve found that racing Spartan is great for work too. As I said when you’re on the Spartan course, it’s a level playing field and hierarchy doesn’t play a part the way it does in the office.  And the nature of the sport is about supporting each other, for example helping each other over obstacles, on monkey bars, or jumping through fire, so it’s fantastic for building team bonds. On top of that there are the fitness, health and wellbeing benefits and there’s plenty of research to show that a healthier workforce is happier and there’s less absenteeism.

Spartan for Women

‘When one woman helps another, amazing things can happen, and that’s what Spartan is all about. It’s also a place where you can discover an inner strength, where you will push boundaries, using your power and agility, and finding your mental fortitude. We’re in the ‘Me Too’ era, we’re fighting inequalities and the gender pay gap and it’s the right time to give women a voice in all areas of their life which can start by building confidence out there on the course. The competitive, team-building disciplines of sport and the skills that women can harness to achieve career success work together. I’m proud that Spartan has its own community of women and a facebook group where women are supporting each other and being each other’s cheerleaders.

‘I really think that Spartan can be a mental and physical catalyst for transformation in all areas of your life.  As a member of the Spartan community you’ll get support, meet new people, and create a new network. Spartan races are held in 30 countries and around one million take part annually, and contrary to what many think, 40 per cent of our racers are women – and the number is growing. We find that women tend to take part in races and train together and women are helping to grow Spartan as a family sport. Joe, who set it all up is a family man and Spartan is now open to kids and families as a fantastically healthy way to spend your weekend with your children.’

Give Spartan a Go

April 7/8 sees the launch of Spartan Races in the UK at St Clere, which is 40 minutes by train from central London and within sight of the M25. Situated on the scenic North Downs and known for its rolling hills – this beautiful yet challenging course will be host to a Sprint and Kids distance. Plus, new for this year, we’ve added a Super to give you more opportunity to go for the hallowed Trifecta! Enter here.


The fire jump brings out the Spartan in everyone!

Fiona’s Spartan Day…

Back in 2013, I tried out a Spartan Training Day. You can read about my experience here.


An Interview With Marvellous Mimi Anderson

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Mimi Anderson, 55, is an ultra runner and a phenomenon – the very definition of endurance woman. She doesn’t give up. She finds opportunities when things change. At the start of this week, she tweeted: ‘I’ve had 18 years of running around the world it’s been AMAZING but I stay positive that new & exciting adventures will happen with my cycling & swimming: When one door closes another opens. There’s always another door we just need to search for it!’

I don’t have the space to  list the multiple record holder’s achievements and fortunately she’s selected her highlights on her own blog, which include running double versions of ‘hard to get your head around’ ultra races such as, Badwater, the Grand Union Canal 145 mile race and Spartathlon. Mimi’s recently documented her running life in a book, Beyond Impossible: From Reluctant Runner to Guinness World Record BreakerI spoke to her (interestingly, my longest interview to date) about her life as a runner and how she’s adapting after a recent run-stopping injury…

‘I’ve bought myself a turbo, and I’m having swimming lessons,’ Mimi tells me as we start to chat. ‘I promised myself I’d learn how to do front crawl.’ She started learning to swim on the 5th January, by blowing bubbles in the water. As a child she’d seen her sister nearly drown and had she says subconsciously it turned her against swimming. But now she’s up to swimming one length without stopping, and although she finds it frustrating she’s feeling determined. But why is the record-breaking ultra runner swimming?

In 2017, Mimi ran 2, 217.2 miles across the USA, that’s three quarters of the way across the third largest Continent in just 40 days. She was aiming to run 2,850 miles in 53 days but the excruciating pain of serious knee injury that if she’d carried on running would have left her in wheelchair meant the end of the challenge – and for now, it seems an end to her running career. ‘Bone was rubbing against bone and the pain levels were unbearable, even for me,’ she says.

‘At first I felt like I’d lost my identity,’ says Mimi, who’s been running big challenges for 18 years. ‘It’s been like grieving. But, I’ve shaken myself up and I’m focussed on looking forward. I’m thinking about maybe doing a half Ironman and I’ve entered a big bike ride. I can’t think small,’ she adds laughing.

The Start

Mimi’s running career did, however, start with a small idea. ‘I wanted thinner legs,’ she admits. ‘I hadn’t done any sport since school and when I first went to the gym and got on the treadmill, I felt very self-conscious. My first goal was to run a mile.’

Before her 18-year relationship with running, she’d had almost the same amount of time caught up in a far less healthy battle, with the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. ‘Like lots of girls it started off at school when someone called me fat. I was at a boarding school which I loved and in sports was quite competitive.  The weight loss began by cutting down on second helpings, then puddings until eventually I was skipping meals. But I’m an addictive type and I soon became obsessed with losing weight and keeping it off.’

Mimi managed her anorexia and in 1985 gave birth to Emma and had her second child Ruariadh in 1987 but after each birth the cycle would start again. Mimi was weighing herself about 10 times a day, taking over 100 laxatives and vomiting when she did eat food – this had to stop. She eventually plucked up the courage to go and see her doctor to ask for help and was treated as an outpatient at St George’s hospital.  Part of the treatment was having to consume 3,000 calories a day, ‘This was terrifying,’ she says. ‘But I continued to lose weight. By the time my third child, Harry came along in 1993, I was weighing myself up to 10 times a day.’

‘After eight weeks of treatment at St George’s it was obvious it wasn’t working so it was decided that Mimi should be admitted as an impatient at an eating disorder unit.  With children to care for Mimi decided she had to find an alternative way of overcoming her anorexia and a friend recommended she tried hypnotherapy.

‘At first, I’d hear the traffic, all the noises around me, but couldn’t open my eyes.  I was certain I couldn’t be hypnotised, and would sometimes be naughty and scratch my nose or twitch my face to show I wasn’t hypnotised. But eventually, stuff came out, things I’d forgotten and had planted deep within myself. After one year, I knew I was free of my eating disorder.’

A new beginning

In 1999, Mimi took her running outside. ‘The significance of the distance I ran didn’t occur to me. I just loved the freedom, and very quickly I was running five miles out and five miles back. It felt natural to me.’

With long distance running Mimi had found her peace. A 10K was quickly followed by the Hastings Half Marathon in 2000. Next she had entered and completed the Thames Path Meander – ‘I wasn’t frightened by the distance, I saw it as an adventure’ – and then in 2001, she was one of just 12 women (now there are 40 plus women) who took on the race described as the ‘toughest footrace on the earth’, the Marathon Des Sables, a multi-stage 251K ultra marathon, held in the Sahara desert and run over six days. ‘I was one of a team of three, called Tuff Muthers. We were very lucky in that we managed to get sponsorship and were able to pay for a week’s training in Lanzarote. We turned up at the gym in our heels and the trainer looked at us as if were mad, and said, in disbelief you really think you can run in a desert? By the time we’d finished the week’s training, he said he’d never seen anyone work so hard and had no doubts were up for the challenge.’

The Marathon Des Sables

But, when it did come to the race, Mimi hit an unexpected barrier. ‘I was put on a drip for dehydration and felt awful. It had never occurred to me that I may not come home with a medal, that I may not complete the race, but on the day before the longest day of the race, it was looking like some far-off dream.’ A hug and some words from her friend reminded her why she would complete the race. ‘Just think of all the people expecting you to fail,’ she’d said. ‘As I watched the runners ahead of me pouring over the Dunes like ants, tears rolled down my cheeks, and I promised myself I’d finish.

‘It was such a fantastic feeling. I’d proven I wasn’t some dumb blonde on a long holiday, I felt as though I could achieve anything. As for the medal, I slept with it for the whole week after the race!’

Let the Good Times Roll

From then on Mimi’s achievements continued with one or more big races every year. It seems strange to not mention all of her challenges, one of them, for example, coming third in the Marathon of Britain, a 175-mile run done over six days, would be enough for most of us to dine out on for a lifetime, but for Mimi there are so many epic achievements, that it has to be edited highlights.

‘I’d heard about Badwater around the end of 2003. Back then not so much was shared online so I was gleaning bits of information. I knew not many Brits had done it and that to run it you had to qualify by running 100 miles in under 40 hours. I set my sights on the Grand Union Canal race, and everyone told me I was mad to go for sub 40 hours. I ran it in 39’39.

Badwater covers 135 miles (217km) non-stop, starting in Badwater Basin, Death Valley, at the lowest elevation in North America at 280’ (85m) below sea level and finishing at Whitney Portal at 8,300’ (2530m), which is the trailhead to the Mt. Whitney summit, the highest point in the contiguous United States. The course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600’ (4450m) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100’ (1859m) of cumulative descent. ‘It’s held in July, it’s very hot and there was a time limit of 60 hours,(now it’s 48 hours)’ explains Mimi. ‘It was a must-do,’ she adds. Mimi first ran the race in 2005 and managed to run under 48 hours (41 hours and five mins) which meant she was awarded the much coveted ‘Buckle’. You can read her blog here. Then in 2011, Mimi went on to a far greater challenge, running the race twice. She became the female course record holder, completing the 292 miles in 108 hrs 10 mins 24 seconds (at the time the third fastest ever crossing). Read more about that race here.

Mimi’s Training

So how did Mimi, a mum of three fit in the training and commitment required to complete these challenges? ‘Running became my full-time job,’ she says. ‘But I still made sure it fitted around family life, running a baseline of five sessions a week on Monday to Friday, and then doing nothing at all on Sunday as this was family time.’ Like many of the elite, long distance athletes I’ve spoken to, Mimi avoided getting too hung up with stats. ‘I had no idea how many miles I ran. I never kept a journal or logs. I had no phone, no watch, no GPS and when I did have a plan it had to be very flexible, especially when racing. I had to listen to my body and realise I could only run as fast as it would allow me to (I’m not naturally fast but I can go long!).’ But setting a clear goal was vital. ‘Without a goal race I would just be floating along,’ explains Mimi.

Mind Power

What about the mind? Do long distance runners in particular need to focus their attention on training their mind? ‘I believe the mind plays a huge part in my ability to run long and keep going. I’m someone who is happy to put myself out there. I’m determined, and I don’t like to fail.

‘Before I race I like to reccy the course and familiarise myself with the hills, the flats, the hard and easy parts. I like to look at photos of others who’ve done the race. When I’m running I keep looking forward at what’s ahead, and avoid looking around. Running for 30-plus hours requires me to empty my head of all thoughts. I listen to music – and I cry. Crying is a great way to release pent-up emotions. I also use visualisation and picture my family at the finish line.’

After the initial disappointment about her injury and having to abandon her run across America, it’s clear that Mimi has applied all she’s learnt as a runner to his next chapter, where she’s learning to swim, discovering Zwift and even buying brightly coloured socks for cycling! Mimi went from ordinary mum to extraordinary athlete, inspiring others along the way. Now as she heads off on the journey to be a triathlete, this extraordinary grandmother is a trail blazer in true endurance woman-style showing 50 plus women what’s possible. Take a leaf out of Mimi’s book and put yourself out there. You never know what’s ahead until you try.

Follow Mimi on Social Media:

Twitter: @MarvellousMimi





Brathay 10in10: 10 Marathons in 10 Days

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

For most of us running one marathon is a lifetime’s achievement. But for a growing number of women it’s been to run the same marathon, every day for 10 days. Even more amazing is that amongst the 34 women to have completed the Brathay 10in10, six of them have done so as many as two, three and four times.

And this year five more women have been offered a place, one of whom is returning for a second time. In addition to training for the event, no mean feat, they have also pledged to raise over £18,000 between them for Brathay Trust, a youth charity who organise the event to support their work with vulnerable children and young people.

Along with 15 men – also raising £3,000 each, they will run the same 26.2 miles each day. It is an anti-clockwise route circumnavigating England’s longest lake, Windermere and taking in the honeypot villages that include Hawkshead and Ambleside. It’s now one of a handful of marathons around the world whose course is entirely within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District.

Recognised as one of the UK’s ultimate endurance running events, it was devised by academic Sir Christopher Ball, as a trustee of Brathay. He ran it aged 72, to prove that ordinary people can tackle extraordinary feats of physical and mental endurance. It has since raised over £1.2million for Brathay’s work including supporting residential programmes at the charity’s base near Ambleside and community projects in the Furness area of South Cumbria. 104 people have completed it.

With just months to go, we take a closer look at these endurance women ahead of their monumental challenge which starts on Friday (11 May) and finishes on Sunday 20 May.

And we start with the person who looks after the event and keeps a close-eye on the runners – Brathay Trust’s operations manager, Aly Knowles. She has first-hand experience of what the 10in10ers go through to train and then ultimately cross the finish line on day ten, having taken part in two 10in10s. Aly says she was lucky enough to be involved with the first 10in10 and then watched with awe when two women completed it the following year. In 2008, when many believed it was impossible for women to tackle such a physical challenge, Selina Da Silva and Michelle Atkins proved it was. It earned Michelle a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, for the most consecutive marathons run by a female. In 2012, Sally Ford’s phenomenal run meant she was first over the finish line and became the second female 10in10er to enter the Guinness Book of World Records – the 10in10’s fastest woman with a time of 36:38:53 which remains unbroken today. Legal PA Kaz Hurrell has set another record by being the only woman to run the 10in10 four times and she’s keen to be back for a fifth one.

This year the five women who are taking part have very different running backgrounds, and are entered as FV35 to FV60.

Brathay training weekend 2018Diane Morris has six children (aged between 12 and 26 years-old) and three grandchildren. She first started running eight years ago with a group of mums who were fundraising for the playgroup. Since 2013 she has completed six marathons and eight ultra-marathons.

Janet Shepherd claims she would never run for a bus until she made a start in her late forties. Making up for lost time Janet celebrated her 55th birthday by crossing the finishing line of her first 10in10 in 2013. Now she back to kick start her 60th birthday celebrations from the start line of another 10in10 challenge.

Brathay training weekend 2018

Joni Southall says she has been running on and off since her school days, representing North Yorkshire in the 200m and 100m relay and enjoying cross country events in the winter months. This year she and her dad, Gary Wade, are making event history by signing up to run it together – running is clearly in this family’s genes.

Liane Warren voices the relationship many of us have with running – loving it, needing it, but not finding it easy. Running gives Lianne focus and motivation and, describing herself as a natural worrier, it is her stress-reliever and a refuge from the pressures of life too. She says she has a terrible running style, likes to eat chocolate and drink wine – but dares to hope to do something amazing.

Linda Somerville is the event’s youngest runner and ran her first marathon in Edinburgh in 2011, three months before her 30th birthday, and has been hooked ever since. Having notched up 23 marathons she shouldn’t have any problem achieving her goal of getting to 50 before she is 40, and 100 before she hits 50.

All five endurance women and fundraising heroes have only a few months of training left before their first marathon on Friday 11 May.

Why not join them on their last – Sunday 20 May – when the course coincides with the one day ASICS Windermere Marathon? You never know where it may lead – this year, 15 of the 20 signed up for the 10in10 are past Windermere Marathon runners. More details can be found on the Brathay Challenges website.

Profiles of all of the 10in10ers can be found on the Brathay Challenges website here and videos and updates will be shared via twitter @BrathayEvents and facebook @BrathayRunning.

Six years to reach sub-three-hour marathon success

I met Kate Carter the week before she went to Seville and reached her goal of running her first sub-three-hour marathon. At the time of the interview I had no idea she had planned to take on the challenge just four days ahead. As Editor of the Guardian Running Blog and with a high-profile on social media, she understandably chose to go under cover!

‘As a Guardian Life and Style Editor I became aware that running was becoming a  huge thing about seven or eight years ago, before I started running myself.  Parkrun was gaining in popularity and more people were taking on challenges like couch to 5K, including my then editor, so when I suggested starting the running blog at a meeting, it was a case of perfect timing.

‘My own running started at about the same time as the Running Blog, back in 2012. I had done a bit of running before, there was one 10K which my husband had entered me into, the Nike North versus South event. It was horrific. I trained from zero to race in six weeks, and ran it in just under an hour, and the last mile was endless. I also did a triathlon in 2006, but running had never been a focus. I was cycling to and from work, there was a pool next to my office, but the run bit I really didn’t like. There was no structure to my training, I just added in a run. So, I was quite surprised when I managed to run 48 minutes for the 10K as part of the London triathlon. But none of it inspired me to continue, until I had children.

Timing it Right

‘I think running is something that you have to find at the right time for you. And I believe that’s why so many women come to it after they have had children. After breaking from work and having young children dependent on you all day with no adult conversation, many women need to find time to themselves. I didn’t start running properly until I was on maternity leave with my second daughter (Kate is the mum of two girls aged six and nine). One of the reasons I started was simply that I wanted to lose weight and get fit again. And running was an easy way to do this and much more time-efficient as there was no time spent driving to a gym or pool and getting changed. I just needed to get out the door.

Kate Carter and her daughter Lily attend the weekly 2km fun run at Wimbledom park for juniors aged 4-14.
Photo by Souvid Datta
Commissioned for DO SOMETHING

‘As well as getting fit, and giving me time to myself, I discovered I was good at running. In the first few months you gain so much, so quickly and that keeps you motivated to keep going. I started with my friend who had been a runner when she was young, and our goal was to run 10K in sub 50 minutes. I followed this with a half marathon, and managed to run it on small mileage in around 1.45.

‘My husband recognised I was getting good at this and as a birthday present he bought me a package with a coach. I met with him and he watched me run, and then for the first time I had a structured plan to follow. I also joined a running club, and even though when the girls were young I couldn’t get to all the sessions, I loved being part of a club.

Marathon Mum

‘Soon I had my eyes set on the goal of running a marathon and had planned to run Seville in February 2014, but a calf tear (the only injury I’ve had) meant I had to wait until the London marathon​ in April. My training consisted of around 40 miles a week, and I worked runs into my day, as my girls were only two and five. I often ran part of the journey to work to save time, or I’d fit in a lunch-time session. They say if you want something done, get a busy person to do it. I say if you want someone to do marathon training, get a parent to do it. It’s not easy when your children are young. I remember those long runs were so exhausting, and I’d come back from a 21-mile run to a crying two-year old and the demands of a young family.  When it came to the race, again I remember the last few miles felt like an eternity, but I wasn’t worried about it as I didn’t have a time goal and I was very pleased to finish in 3.25.

‘Running adds to our family life on so many levels. I go on holiday and run early in the morning which some people think is crazy. And I’ve been known to get off a long-haul flight and run (such as after a 24-hour flight to New Zealand)  because it freshens me up and helps me beat jet lag. I know that when I run, I’m happier, and a happier me, is a better mum. And now that the children are older we run together. In the summer we go to the track and they might time me doing laps, or do some laps themselves and then play. We also do our own circuits, and crazy yoga/dancing – they’ve learnt that exercise is fun and it’s not a transaction that’s just about calories in and calories out.


‘As I got more serious about running I started to up my mileage. I learnt early on that my body absorbs mileage and I’m lucky that I don’t seem to get injured. I’ll run at least 70 miles per week when I want to achieve a bigger goal. My progress continued and in 2014 I ran another marathon, this time in 3.11 in New York, which is a hard and slower marathon than ​some ​others.  Then in 2015 I ran 3.03 in London and finally got tantalizingly close to sub three, running, 3.00.07 in Berlin – so close –  in fact a friend told me I should just call it 2.59.67.

‘After this, in 2016 and 2017, I ran another five marathons (two in 2016 and three in 2017) some for fun, and  some that didn’t go to plan. In preparation for London in 2017 I had achieved PBs at every distance: 5K, 10 mile and half marathon. But  on the day of the race it didn’t happen for me. I think I’d peaked too soon and the timing was just off. In a marathon you can see saw between feeling great and feeling awful, and if you have a bad day, it’s not like you can go and repeat the performance the following week. But the good thing about running marathons is that it makes all other distances seem easy psychologically and physically. And things are on the up again as last week I was absolutely delighted to run a 10K PB of 38.32.

Power of the mind

‘When I’m racing, I try to focus my mind. I think about what my muscles are doing and make sure I check in on my posture. I tell my mind to shut up, especially in the first 5K, or at 16 miles when there’s still 10 miles to go. It’s important to be in control of your mind and break down the distance into manageable blocks, and to simply stay in the moment, and avoid trying to plan for what may or may not happen. I will have an internal dialogue and will always ask myself if there’s more I can give, I definitely do not want to finish a race feeling I may have left it out there.

‘When it comes to training, I’m very good at doing what I’m told. My husband likes to point out that I’m not like this in any other area of my life, But if my coach tells me to do a session, I do it. I don’t question it. I’ve learned that with running it’s a straightforward equation: you get out what you put in. And it’s worth doing. Running can add so much to  life, for busy parents it’s a great way to get much-needed head space – as well as a sense of feeling in control of life. I remember when I first ran the marathon I felt like superwoman, as if I could do anything now!

Men V Women: the race is on!

‘Long distance female runners are much closer to their male counterparts than in other sports, and the further the distance, the smaller the time difference between men and women. I often find when I’m running to and form work, a man will run a long side me and race me. Recently, a guy even decided to give me some unasked for advice about how I could improve my running stride. It was very satisfying to stop at the lights and then destroy him by running away quickly.

Getting Faster

‘I’m going for sub-three hours at the marathon again in April and then after the marathon I’d like to see if I can get faster over shorter distances and dedicate training to improving my 5K and 10K times. But first, it’s the marathon and I really hope I can do it this time.’

Now read what happened just four days later:

Teach A Girl To Swim

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Mum of three children (ages nine, 11, 13), Malini Mehra, 50 is determined to make 2018 a year that counts. She’s set herself a goal of swimming 500K, which includes swim training 10K per week (as well as running and cycling) and taking part in swim events in cities around the world (totalling 150K of racing). She’s also lined up a marathon, 100-mile bike ride and Ironman Barcelona. She’s combining her experience from a 30-year career in sustainable development, climate change and human rights with her love of a challenge to make life better for women and teach girls to swim.

‘Climate change is the major issue of our times and it’s devastatingly obvious that it’s here to stay. Its impacts are many and you only have to look at how floods are affecting us all globally – including here in the UK. However, our losses and suffering are nothing compared to what those in coastal areas of Bangladesh, Cambodia and other Asian regions experience.

‘Floods are the most common form of climate disaster and they’re becoming more frequent – with women and girls are most at risk. Women are twice as likely to die in a flood, and four times as likely as men to die in a disaster in the developing world. In addition to this, women are the last ones to respond to emergency warning when disaster strikes as they’re often taking care of young children or elderly relatives.

‘This is a very real gender disparity and explained by the different social roles and status of men and women in these societies. Females are more likely to die than males in floods, for the simple reason that women and girls are generally not taught to swim.

‘There are also important cultural reasons due to notions of modesty and the taboo of menstruation that prevent the same freedoms for girls as boys enjoy. It’s common to see boys jumping into the water and enjoying themselves, but not girls. This isn’t fair or right and needs to change. Everyone should be able to enjoy the wonder of water and swimming. And no-one should die because they haven’t been taught basic safety swimming.

Time to Take Action

‘In my day job I’m the chief executive of GLOBE International, the world’s leading cross-party network of parliamentarians committed to green issues. I could see that there are a number of small organisations doing what they can to help out, but they lacked the resources and political know-how to do more. I decided to use my position to try to make a difference. I’m a mother, a feminist, I’m passionate about action on climate change – and I can swim! So, I came up with Teach A Girl To Swim (TAGS) to raise awareness of the issue and connecting those working on climate change, gender equality and disaster risk reduction around the world.

‘The attention-grabbing part of the TAGs campaign are my 10k swims in different cities – Kolkata, Dhaka, Beijing, Manila, Tokyo etc – which bring media attention to the epidemic of drowning deaths around the world, climate change and its differential impact on women and girls. But the bulk of my work is about raising funds for local organisations doing work on drowning prevention, raising awareness and putting in place national policies and measures, – and money! – to ensure that swim safety (for girls and boys) is a basic part of the national curriculum and a fundamental part of a country’s response to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

‘So, that’s it in a nutshell. Some people think I’m a crackpot, but I hope this publicity will spark dialogue and drive action and make a difference.

Family life

‘In 2000, I founded an NGO working on corporate responsibility, sustainability and climate change in India and the UK. It meant a lot of travel for me back and forth. I’m Indian and my husband is British. It was especially tough when my kids were very young.  I was a militant breastfeeder, which meant I took the kids with me everywhere for the first year of their lives – all around the world, to my offices in India and international board meetings and conferences. My husband is in the same field and we had consecutive travel all the time, so someone was always at home with the kids. We had no nannies and it was exhausting. So, I’m really glad I don’t have to travel with them anymore!

‘Thankfully, we live in a very different world now to our mother and grandmothers. My grandmother had her first child at 13, my mum at 23 and me at 36. That’s a massive change and we have many more choices now. IT has also transformed the working world for women and given opportunities for many modern mums to work at home and grow the ‘kitchen table economy’. We don’t have to compromise family life in the same way as before. Parenting is very different now. I really like working from home and being a hands-on mum. So, now I’m working flexibly with a portfolio career and therefore able to structure my day so that I can prioritise family and also be committed to work and training. I’m lucky, I know this isn’t the case for everyone and the trade-off between family, work and training is very real.


‘I train five days a week, which includes a three to five-mile run after the school drop off and one hour of swimming (2.5K) four days a week. I have focussed my training on swimming and do 10K per week in between four to four and half hours. I also train with Mark Kleanthous (@ironmatemark) for expert coaching. I’ve run more recently as I’m running a marathon on March 11th. I’ll be swimming throughout– it’s the bit of the Ironman that I’m least anxious about – and I’ll begin to focus more on getting cycle fit over the summer so I build my bike legs, and can get off the bike after 180k and still have the legs to run a marathon and have a good finish to Ironman Barcelona!

Teach A Girl To Swim: the Legacy

‘I’ve always loved swimming and as a child growing up in Delhi, I splashed around in pools before learning to swim at school in London when I was 8. I was lucky to learn in the UK when I did. This country is very unusual and our kids very lucky that the national curriculum includes basic swimming skills. This should be the case everywhere. I want this year’s commitment to my goals and challenges to be meaningful, not just a flash in the pan. I hope to raise awareness about teaching girls to swim, to raise money and in the longer term to create a foundation for TAGS, so that I can leave a positive and lasting legacy.

‘Inspiration for me has come from many sources. Back in 2009, I started working with a fabulous Indian ultra-runner, Dr Rajat Chauhan, who had started this amazing Himalayan ultra-run – on the highest peaks  in the world – called  La Ultra – the High. We worked together to use the run to promote awareness, in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit, of the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, where glaciers are receding rapidly. The High is an incredibly tough ultra trail race. You’ve got to contend with thin air, altitude sickness and crazy trucks flying past you like juggernauts. I’d love to do it one day though. Events like these are powerful catalysts for change. I’m also driven on to keep going by women like Diana Nyad, the unstoppable endurance swimmer, motivational speaker and author, who’s now almost 70 and an absolute force of nature.

‘And after this crazy year, I’ve got more planned – I love endurance sports and women do get better as they age! We can get better PBs as we age, while men flag and wilt.  So, that’s a real upside of aging – as long as one keeps one’s health. For next year, my son and I are planning to cycle the length of the UK – from Lands End to John O’Groats – when he’s 12, so we’ve got a lot of long training rides in store!

‘I hope 2018 is the start of something bigger and I can inspire people to make a real difference by engaging with and supporting the Teach A Girl to Swim campaign.’

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From Zero to World Champion Triathlete

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

At 40, Jane Hansom, was squeezing into a size 14, living a hedonistic, work-orientated busy life as an ad exec for booze and tobacco companies and doing no exercise. The challenge of taking on the London Marathon turned her life around and was the start of her journey to world champion.

‘I promise you, I did nothing, no exercise for at least 20 years. I was three stone heavier than I am now and couldn’t run for a bus, and I had started to look in the mirror, and think what’s happened?  I had natural talent and had been a swimmer and a runner at school but the lid had been firmly shut on my world champion potential. But in 2010 when a client challenged me to take on the London Marathon, I knew I couldn’t say no. I’d heard  Oprah Winfrey saying she’d read a book about how to run a marathon in four hours and I bought that and got started on training.

‘By the time the marathon came around I’d lost all the weight, was size zero, and crossed the line in under four hours. I had officially got the bug, and running became my passion. And I was good at it. In just 18 months I’d managed to run sub-three hours for the marathon in New York.

‘My approach was simple, consistently stick to my plan, and remove any barriers that could stop me running. So for example, I made sure I had a proper jacket, gloves and hat for rain and cold. And I planned in my training around work. I’d also watched some celebrities run the marathon with no preparation and it looked hideous, and I’d decided I wanted to get it over done with and not be crawling around in pain.

‘I’m a 100 per cent in, or 100 per cent out person. And if I decide I’m going to do something, I do it. I guess this helped get me to the podium places and to become world champion. In the run up to the sub-three hour race I had achieved 3.23 when I’d signed up to Runner’s World magazine’s Asics 26.2, which meant I was accountable to their online forum and so there was no way I could miss training. I was also very fortunate to be coached by the famous coach, Bud Buldaro, who taught me that I didn’t need to run every run faster, or longer than the day before and showed me how to structure marathon training. I also joined a running club, Queens Park Harriers. When I started I was one of the slowest runners there, I’m pleased to say I’m now one of the fastest.

Jane’s Marathon times

April 2010 London: 3.54

October2010 Loch Ness: 3.32

April  2011 Paris: 3.04

November 2011, New York: 2.58

April 2012, London: 2.58

The Road To Triathlon

‘With two sub-three marathons done, I was looking for my next challenge. It was my brother who suggested triathlon. He reminded me that I’d been a very good swimmer at school and that I might do well. I  worried about the bike though, as I hadn’t been on bike for 20-plus years and have never trained on a bike.

‘But I entered my first event, a sprint triathlon, held as a test event for the olympics and bought a bike on E-bay. It was the wrong size and clunky but it was good enough and I was amazed to win the race – overall! It turned out that as a good swimmer I could get ahead, then I’d get caught on the bike, but catch it all up again on the run.

‘This win boosted my confidence and was quickly followed by success in Aquathlon and a lot of other races. I took part in the Slateman race in Snowdonia, and loved it, as I enjoy races that dish out some adversity in the middle. I won the series and a two-week holiday at the very well-known training holiday camp for triathletes, Club La Santa, in Lanzarote. By now I was training harder on the bike and had joined a group of guys who cycle around Richmond Park. It was here talk of Ironman started.

‘My first reaction was, that’s way too long. But the more I raced and trained, the more it seemed like it was something I could achieve. Again as someone who likes to do things properly I wanted to be sure I had the best coach – and I found him – Brett Sutton of Tri Sutto (coach to the current world champion at Ironman, Daniela Ryf and four-time world champ Chrissie Wellington).

‘I entered Switzerland Ironman, and didn’t feel ready at all, saying to Brett that maybe I should wait. He disagreed. We decided I’d approach it as a long training session, but I went on to win my age category by 24 minutes. 

‘In doing this race I’d qualified for the world championship at Kona! I had no expectations for the race, I was just so glad to be there with 87 girls who had all won an Ironman. I didn’t over-think it, or plan too far ahead. I was there and not going to worry about unimportant things. It wasn’t until the last 10K that someone told me I was second in my age. I was so chuffed to come second and to be in the top 50 of this elite group of triathletes.


‘As the owner of my marketing agency, Sponge Marketing, I am super-busy and don’t have time to think too hard about training details. I make sure I train early in the morning between 530am and 730am every day, and often at lunch or in the evening as well, which adds up to between 15 and 20 hours training a week. To do this I have to be organised and leave my kit out the night before and make sure my food is simple and prepared in advance (my husband helps me with this). I don’t miss a session, or hit the snooze button because playing catch-up is too stressful and difficult. I know from my experience of the last seven years that consistency is the key to success.

‘It helps that I really do enjoy training. On my 49th birthday I did 40 x 100M swim reps because it’s what I love to do. I don’t train to win trophies and I’m not trying to go about collecting gongs, triathlon means so much more to me. I love the social side, the lifestyle and the community that I’m part of, and as I said I love to train!

From Runner to Triathlete

‘When I started doing triathlon I relied on a good swim and then my running ability to get me to the podium. Nowadays I never run two days in a row, which gives my body time to repair and recover. But to become a world champion I needed to focus on the bike. Cycling made me stronger overall and the net effect of being faster on the bike is obvious in triathlon as you spend more time on the bike than on the other two disciplines. I’m now accomplished at all three disciplines

‘My body shape changed. As a runner I had no bum and was skinny, but as a triathlete I’m more robust and stronger overall. I don’t need to go to the gym, as I do my strength work when I train, such as cycling in a big gear, or swimming with paddles.

Triathlon is a Great Sport for Women

‘As well as the aesthetic benefits of being a triathlete, it’s a great sport for women. Some women feel they can’t be seen in a tri suit, but if they can overcome that barrier, they will get some much from the sport. Really, who cares how you look? When I first went to Kona I felt like a hefferlump surrounded by world champions with six packs. But I soon forgot about all that. It really doesn’t matter. It’s not a beauty contest. Another problem for many is lack of time, but for me getting up early and training gives me time to switch off the stress, and to be creative, coming up with ideas and solving problems, something I don’t think I’d do by sitting on the tube, or writing a long list. You’ll never know what you can do until you try.’