She's a 3X Ironman, and Over 300 Marathons/Ultras
Cheryl Symons (48, from Melbourne Australia)
I don’t think of myself as an athlete or even being athletic. When I was younger I avoided playing most sports however that is also when my athletic ambitions started. In Australia we had a television show on a Saturday afternoon - Wide World of Sports which ran small segments on sporting events all around the world, and I remember watching the Hawaii Ironman and being absolutely in awe. So after spending my 20’s working and partying and my early 30’s still working long hours and coming out of a relationship, I decided it was time to do something for myself and to build some personal confidence. I initially decided that that something was running, but in the back of my mind the thought of being an ironman was there.
With no real running background, other than a few laps of an icon Melbourne landmark – ‘The Tan’ I bought a book containing a few marathon plans and followed it religiously and 15 months later ran my first marathon. Dehydrated and exhausted at the end I declared to my parents patiently waiting for me at the finish that I would never do that again. Fast forward to November 2018 (14 years later) and I have just completed my 300th marathon/ultra and hope I will still be running strong for many more years. I have also finished 3 ironmans and ironman is actually what led me to Ultras.
As I said, I don’t consider myself to be an athlete.
I honestly believe and regularly say to other runners and non-runners, that if I can do it anyone can. I’m not fast, I’m not skinny, I’m not physically strong – but what I do have in spades in determination and a never give up attitude. One of my favourite sayings is Death Before DNF (Did Not Finish). I ran the final 13 miles of a 50km trail run with broken ribs a few years ago and never once did it cross my mind to quit. But, everyone is different and I understand why for others stopping is the right course of action.
I enjoy exploring my physical and mental limits through running and will often be seen smiling away to myself whilst on the road, trail or track for no particular reason other than the pure joy of being out there. In the last three years I have discovered fixed time races and love them. I’ve done quite a few 24 hours events and stepped up to the 48 hour this year and have a strong desire to graduate to the 6 day plus events next year.
It’s a rare occasion to see me with headphones in – I enjoy the quiet time, thinking or simply choosing not to think or chatting to old friends and making new ones. My motto the last few years is simply that life is short and you need to live it whilst you can. If you want to do something give it a go don’t have regrets. It doesn’t matter if you come first, last or somewhere in-between enjoy the experience and remember to smile for the cameras.
3 Ironman Triathlons
81 Ultra-marathons (23 are 100 miles or greater)
Fastest marathon : 3:52:25
24 hour PR : 118.37 miles
48 hour PR : 195 miles