Let's focus on the first — Audrey the ultra-runner...
In November 2013, I made a bit of running history when I became the first Scot (and second British woman) to complete my Antarctic Odyssey — the Antarctic Ice Marathon and Antarctic 100km double — in the space of three days, and this is one of my greatest achievement.
Crossing that 100k finish line marked both the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one...
2014 I completed the Volcano Marathon.
In 2015 Another bit of running history: I completed the North Pole Marathon and became the first Scot to complete all 3 polar races. I also added the West Highland Way Race and West Highland Way Triple Crown and 100 miles in 24 hours at the Glenmore 24 hour trail race to my tally of achievements.
In January 2017 I became the first person to complete the double extreme marathon event of the Namibian Sand Marathon and Genghis Khan Ice Marathon: 36 degrees to minus 32 degrees.
I came fairly late to running — in my mid-30s — and although I'd been using a gym for some years by then, I didn't arrive with any kind of athletic pedigree.
In fact, I hated all sport at school. All that mattered to the PE staff was the team and winning, and nobody ever tried to tease out our individual strengths. Just to add to the misery, those were the days of navy knickers and Aertex tops.
So when I did take my first steps as a runner, my focus was not actually on running at all — it was on raising funds for charity.
I chose the 1998 Glasgow Ladies' 10k for my debut, drawn to it because it was a women's-only event, and it was while I was training that I discovered I actually liked running! I lost weight, I got much fitter, I found it relaxing, and I began meeting like-minded people.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
First Ultra Marathon
First Adventure Race
Marathons & Ultras
Specifically, I finished my first half-marathon in 2002 and my first marathon (Loch Ness) in 2003, the first ultra-marathon in 2010 and first adventure race in 2013.
I'm fully aware that other runners have completed more races, have clocked up more miles, and run faster. But ticking boxes is not my driver. For me, running is all about the sense of purpose and well being it brings — ensuring it never becomes a chore is paramount, as is staying healthy and injury-free.
Running, I believe, offers us all a very singular opportunity to put ourselves to the test. I've always trained and raced on my own, devising my own schedules, and setting my own goals. Even though I now have many friends made through running, I've never joined an athletics club and the only competitor I'm ever interested in is me: it's about discovering how far I can push myself — physically, psychologically, emotionally.
And also organisationally! One totally unexpected by-product of running has found me donning a race director's hat, a hat I only intended wearing once. I devised the Loch Katrine Running Festival as a one-off 2013 fundraiser for Alzheimer Scotland, my Antarctic Odyssey charity. But it proved so popular that I really had no choice but to stage it again in 2014, and in 2015 it sold out in 24 hours. It is now a regular fixture.
Loch Katrine was driven by fundraising, and charitable giving has always been a big part of my life because I believe strongly that we should all recognise our personal 'wealth' and never take anything for granted. Since that first 10k, I've raised more than £35k for a number of causes, all of them — such as Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary Haematology Unit and Alzheimer Scotland— very close to my heart.
So who exactly am I when I'm not running? I was born in England — English-Dutch mother, Scottish father — and grew up on the east coast of Scotland. After I graduated with an MA Hons in Drama and History of Art, and a post graduate MLitt from the University of Glasgow, I stayed in the city and it's been my home ever since. I now live there with my husband and our two daughters, although they're both now at university themselves.
My work as a business consultant and project manager has taken me all over the UK and further afield, but heading up my own consultancy has given me the flexibility to maintain my connection with the arts. I was on the board of Scotland's leading international touring theatre company, Vanishing Point, between 2001 and 2015 holding the position of Chair of the Board between2006 and 2015. I am also a board member of Vox Motus, another high-profile Scottish theatre company.
Now I am building on my experience as an extreme ultra-runner — especially the discoveries I made about myself in Antarctica — and my track record in both business and in the arts to help motivate and inspire others. I want to share all that I've learned and prove that you really don't need to be anyone exceptional to successfully follow your dreams and shape your destiny.
You can find out much more about my journey on my blog and if you'd like me to book me as your next guest speaker, please just contact me.
My best running moments...
Antarctica, of course; but my first marathon at Loch Ness in 2003 was also very special. I am extremely proud to have completed the West Highland Way race and the West Highlans way Triple Crown. And attaining 100 miles in a single race effort was a terrific milestone.
My worst running moments...
A DNF (did not finish). It is probably the hardest thing for a runner to cope with mentally and emotionally.