Members of our running community share their real, inspiring, and relatable stories of motivation.


Meet Cathy Rowney – this wonder woman has gone from fighting cancer to finishing the 2018 Blackmores Sydney Running Festival

“I only got into running a few years ago. Years ago I used to cycle, but then that tapered off as life got busier; my job nursing, children at school… you know. I became unfit and overweight, then, in 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 47. I had the treatments, lost my hair, gained weight, and developed bad habits. In 2014, 3-years after I was first diagnosed, I was given the all clear.

I suppose it was only then that I had the epiphany and decided I needed to be fit and well. I joined an outdoor fitness group and lost around 20 kilos in that first year. I was feeling good again and enjoyed it but never used to go to the group on Wednesdays as that was run-training and I hated running! A a friend and fellow survivor saw me avoiding that part of the training and convinced me to do the Mother’s Day with classic her. We trained together and I really struggled but I pushed and pushed and in the end I managed to run whole thing! As soon as I finished that was it, I was hooked! I entered my next event right away, and then another, and then another and soon I was doing my first half at Blackmores. I had gone from zero to a half marathon in 6-months! I’m very excited for this marathon I’ve worked really hard for it. I was forced to have 6-weeks off training in June for even more reconstructive surgery but the upside is that I now have a chest designed for running!


Meet Sammie Feeley – 18 months ago she hated running, and now she’s addicted.

“You might think it’s funny, but I’ve always hated running… I ran when I was at school, but I just didn’t enjoy it so I stopped as soon as I left. That was until about 18 months ago… I wanted to raise money for charity. And not just a bit of money, and not just in an easy way. I lost my goddaughter, Jessica Mae Whelan, in Nov 2016. She was 4. I wanted to do something to show how much this charity meant to me. Someone at work said I should do a run and I just laughed it off because I did not like to run…. at all. But hey, I thought that it would really prove my point about how much passion I had for the cause. So I tried… I ran about 2.5k. I hated it. All I could think of was stopping. When it was hard I would think about Jessica. She helped me. I was just going to do this one run, for her, raise the money, and then stop… but you know what… it’s kind of addictive, so once I had done one, I just wanted the next race to come! I have raised just over $8K and somehow, though I’m still not sure how, I developed a new passion for running that I never thought would be there.
Now I run, I’m a runner. You’ve heard the reasons before but it’s true: it’s meditation, it’s a way to switch off your mind and clear your head, and I’ve made a lot of friends which I would not have known otherwise. I still think of Jessica when I run but now it is also now a hobby and a passion too.”


Meet Gabby O’Neill – 4 months ago she received what some might call an ‘unfavourable’ reading for her cholesterol levels, so she started running.

“My GP suggested a change in diet and exercise was needed to reduce my cholesterol levels to a better overall state if I wanted to avoid medication. So, I ditched the potato chips and started a “couch to 5k” jogging plan. When my friend Gabriela found out she invited me along to the Women’s Recreational Running Network, 5k park runs Sunday morning (Bonython Park). It’s this inspiring group of women that has encouraged me the most. Recently I’ve done ‘The Bloody Long Walk’ , the 5k & 3k timed events in Victoria Park, the Turkey Run and now the 6km at the City2Bay. Years ago, I used to jog, swim and walk every day.  This time around I’ve found the friendship and little events along the key motivational hooks to carve out those moments away from the family to make sure I am looking after myself too!”


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