Zoe and Meg Toland

Deep in to the first lap of RunAsOne’s North Adelaide time trial, and the dry air and direct sunlight are already starting to take their toll on most runners. Glancing down the long, dusty straights of the track locally referred to as the “Uni Loop”, spectators are able to catch their first glance of the leaders. Today, sisters Zoe and Meg Toland are leading the female race, and they would go on to finish in that order ahead of the rest of the field! However, it’s not this achievement that harvests the most attention from onlookers, rather the energy with which each kilometer of the five kilometer race is completed. Bouncing along with a smile on their faces, Zoe and Meg Toland are a picture of power! Subsequently, the question is raised: How?

The how, is Irish Dancing! Zoe and Meg started at five years of age. Their dad, hailing from Belfast, was perhaps the main influence for the sisters and their cousins to specialize in this dance form. Remarkably, Zoe and Meg both went on to be Australian champions, and even finished 9th and 17th in the World respectively! The sisters attribute the rhythm, the music, and the many other unique intricacies of the artform for their love and passion. Furthermore, they are both exceptionally grateful for the opportunities Irish Dancing provided them in the form of lifelong friendships, and the opportunity to travel and see the World! However, like the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and towards the end of their teen years both sisters decided to pursue other interests. At this point in their life, they couldn’t have imagined the relevance of the strengths and skills they acquired dancing, but time to reflect has offered the opportunity for gratitude.

Training 2-3 hours at a time, 6 days a week, the physical benefits of Irish Dancing have clearly prepared Zoe and Meg for a positive transfer to running. Predominantly a test of leg strength and power, it is quite clear how the sisters have made the seamless physical transition. However, both sisters cite the mental benefits of the structured program as perhaps the greatest gift Irish Dancing has given them. The patience, resilience, and work ethic that being a World Class Irish Dancer demands have prepared Zoe and Meg for all of life’s challenges. Currently, Zoe has just finished her Clinical Exercise Physiology Honours, and is working in this field! Similarly, Meg is finishing her Bachelor degree in teaching, and works two jobs outside of these hours. Meanwhile, both are running personal bests, and Zoe is starting to toe the line and be competitive against the state’s best middle-distance runners. The sisters demonstrate a remarkable commitment to bettering themselves in all facets of life, but most importantly, they do it all with a smile on their face. Naturally, this level of positive energy draws intrigue. We all want to know the secret! For our benefit only, Zoe and Meg take a moment to bring their subconscious towards their conscious in an attempt to answer this question. Aside from learnt habits attributed to growing up dancing, both sisters can only put it down to the simple priority of spending your time doing what makes you happy, with the people who make you happy. An unsurprisingly mature, and insightful response from this impressive sister team!

As for the future, Zoe and Meg are focused on maintaining the enjoyment factor of running. They are confident that the amazing community at RunAsOne can help them achieve this, and keep them feeling motivated to improve. Both sisters are planning to debut at the half marathon distance this year, and by doing so continue to be a positive influence on the people around them both at RunAsOne, as well as at home and in their workplaces. We can’t wait to see what these two can do this year and beyond!