We sit down with Toni Metcalfe, mum, long-distance runner and all-round tough cookie, to talk pushing through the pain and inspiring others as she prepares for the 7 Emirates Run
Toni Metcalfe isn’t your average ultramarathoner. After gaining weight, the mum-of-three felt unfit and unhappy, so she decided to do something about it.
From lacing up her shoes and attempting a short jog to running ultramarathons, this Reebok-sponsored athlete is about to take on her biggest challenge yet from 18th to
With 500km to rack up, seven emirates and seven days to complete it in, Toni will be pushing herself to the limit to tackle the 7 Emirates Run in support of Al Jalila Foundation.
As she catches her breath before the big event, we take the opportunity to ask her a
Tell us about your journey from mum to marathon runner. What motivated you?
I’d just had my third child and I’d put on so much weight. I was miserable, and just taking my kids to the pool made me exhausted. I wanted to set a better example for my children and lose the weight.
My husband suggested I take up running, so I did, and I ended up entering the Abu Dhabi Striders half-marathon. It really took off after that; I was surrounded by people who were passionate about running.
How has running changed your life and health overall?
It was a huge confidence boost; it helped me make new friends and feel good about myself. I suffer from general anxiety disorder, and this makes a massive difference.
It makes you live in the moment. You’re not thinking about what happened yesterday or what’s happening tomorrow – it’s all about the right now.
I also want to show my kids that you can do amazing things to help people – like helping children to walk again through Al Jalila Foundation – every little helps.
Five hundred kilometres is a long way. Have you had any tough times on the road so far?
I didn’t start with 500km; I only started with a 1.3km loop of my compound! I had no idea I could run a half-marathon, let alone a marathon and then an ultramarathon.
There are tough times. I usually miss my family; I could be spending the day with them, but instead I’m running up and down Jebel Hafeet.
It’s also physically and mentally tough, but that’s what I like about it. I like that feeling when you’re on mile 80 of 100 and everything hurts and you need to push through that pain.
The route through the seven emirates must have some beautiful scenery on the way…
A lot of it will be dusty roads and tracks, so I’m excited for the change of scenery on day six, where we will be running along the Fujairah coast. We’ll be running along the beach, the race will nearly be over and the scenery is supposed to be beautiful.
You’re proof that you don’t have to be a super-athlete to do something inspirational. What would you say to people who are struggling with their own confidence about getting into sport?
Sport should be a normal part of life, and people need to have confidence and patience in themselves and their abilities. Don’t feel pressure to have giant goals right away;
some days, just set a small goal and accomplish that, and then keep reaching for bigger and bigger ones.
No matter what sport you’re into, there are so many amazing programmes in the UAE right now, and if you go with a friend, you’ll be much more likely to get out of bed and do it.
Really, I’m just a mum, a normal person who happened to fall in love with running. I’m not an athlete; I was never good at sport in school. I just want to inspire others so that they know that they can achieve things that might sound crazy.
To keep track of Toni’s progress, follow her on Instagram @emiratesultrarunner.
To find out more about the 7 Emirates Run, visit: 7emiratesrun.com