My life’s passion is running.
From a very early age, growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, I loved doing sports and being outdoors. At age 11, inspired by the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, I decided that I was going to be an Olympian.
But life is never straightforward, and it took 24 years before I realised my dream by lining up at the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics women’s marathon (I finished 6th). During that long journey, I learned a huge amount about going after your dream, motivation, perseverance, overcoming setbacks, and never giving up. In 2012, I competed in my second Olympic Games at the historic London Olympics, and retired from elite competition in 2013.
My career as an athlete has been interspersed with working as a diplomat. After studying at Oxford University and LSE, I wasn’t fast enough as a runner to earn a living from athletics. So I joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and was posted to Tokyo, Japan for four years, where I learned a huge amount about Japan – the language, culture, society and its passion for the marathon!
But I never forgot my dream of becoming an Olympian, and for ten years I did my best to combine working as a diplomat with training. In 2006, at age 33, I finally became a full-time athlete. The highlights of my career were winning the bronze medal in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games 10,000m, winning the 2008 Osaka Ladies’ Marathon, finishing runner-up in the 2009 London Marathon, and finishing sixth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (the joint best performance ever by a British woman in the Olympic marathon).
Running is a wonderful sport – simple, inexpensive, exhilarating, and good for your health. I want to help others to get as much enjoyment, confidence, and self-belief from running as I have. But I also want to show people how the skills, attributes and experiences of being an elite athlete are very relevant and useful in the workplace and the wider world.
Although I have retired from elite competition, I still run regularly to stay fit and for enjoyment. I now have dreams of winning Masters competitions so watch this space!
Member of Team GB, Women’s Marathon, London Olympics
Winner, BUPA 10,000 10km race, London
3rd place, Yokohama Women’s Marathon, Japan
Winner, Grand 10 Berlin 10km race, Germany
13th place, New York City Marathon, USA
10th place, London Marathon
Winner, Ohme 30km race, Japan
Winner, New York City Half-marathon, USA
2nd place, London Marathon (PB 2:23:12)
Winner, Marugame Half-marathon, Japan (PB 68:29)
Ranked second in the world in women’s road running
3rd place, Tokyo Women’s Marathon, Japan
6th place, Beijing Olympics Women’s Marathon
Winner, Osaka Ladies Marathon, Japan
9th place, Osaka World Athletics Championships Women’s Marathon, Japan
6th place, London Marathon
Bronze Medal, Melbourne Commonwealth Games 10,000m, Australia
6th place, London Marathon