11 October 2012

Former Olympian and World Championship rower Tory Toogood is almost halfway through her challenge to complete seven marathons in seven countries.

Stacey Roberts caught up with her recently to see how she’s going.

By Stacey Roberts

“Progress is going well”, Tory says. Even during a well-deserved break from her grueling program, she competed in the City To Bay on September 16 (wearing the JLF signature black tutu of course!) and a week later she ran her first ultra marathon, a 56km run from Belair to Athelstone.

Her adventure started last year, when she decided to take part in the world’s biggest marathon in New York.

Despite having never run before, Tory started training in January 2011 for the November race.

Tory has now completed three out of seven marathons, in New York, China and Adelaide. So far she has raised over $10,500 for the Jodi Lee Bowel Cancer Foundation!

Tory says the idea stemmed from seeing photos of the 2010 New York Marathon on Facebook, which our CEO Nick ran with a JLF team including his sister, Tam.

“That planted the first seed”, says Tory. “If she could do it, was there any real reason that I couldn’t?”

“Jodi’s story really struck a chord. I never met her, but her story resonated – in so many ways she is just like me, just like most women I know,” she explains.

A born and bred athlete, Tory wanted to get fitter and take up a new challenge but was lacking motivation. Discovering the Jodi Lee Bowel Cancer Foundation and the New York marathon provided just what she needed.

“Running New York for the Jodi Lee Bowel Cancer Foundation provided the vehicle – a great cause, a great event – and more than enough motivation to make some changes”, she says.

After hearing of some runners who were doing 7-on-7 marathons, Tory knew she had found what she was looking for. She says the best part of the challenge is meeting new people while traveling.

It’s not all plain sailing though; Tory says her most recent marathon in Adelaide was difficult. Despite hitting a “very tough patch” about 34km in, Tory impressively placed exactly in the middle – 203 out of 406 runners.

She drew inspiration from seeing familiar faces in the race and on the sidelines. “I saw so many people I know, friends, runners, patients…. So many smiling faces – the tutu drew admiration and laughter and jokes from strangers and friends alike”, she says.

Tory’s next adventure will take her to South Africa for the Kilimanjaro Marathon in March next year – and she’s bringing the whole family with her!

“There is a 5km run offered as part of the festival, so everyone else is signed up for the 5k”, she says.

While it’s a little early to say for sure, Tory hopes to finish her last marathon in Antarctica in March 2014.

Tory urges Australians over forty to take the bowel screening test. “The screening is quick, easy and cheap. There is no reason not to do it every year or two from forty, so we can make sure we are around to see our kids grow.”

You can catch up with Tory’s latest progress on her website.