Hi, my name is Mari-Mar Walton and I am the founder of Travelling Fit. Many of you who have travelled with us will be familiar with my name as we have spoken and corresponded many times, and I have had the good fortune to meet quite a number of you over the last few years, but for those that are not as familiar with how Travelling Fit came into existence I thought I would take this opportunity to let you know a little more about myself and how our business got started.
Starting to Run
Having been a gymnastics enthusiast at school, I didn't really discover running until I left. A close friend of mine had challenged herself to run the City to Surf in Sydney and she wanted some company. I was that company and I was hooked, having now completed 14 City to Surf races subsequently
My First Marathon
Skipping forwards a few years and the 1996 Sydney Marathon was upon me. I had wanted to do it purely to finish, thinking that this would be the ultimate test of my fitness. What a blast I had.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a Marathon (in what became the warm-up arena for the 2000 Olympics) and crossing the finishing line was certainly something special, vowing that this definitely wouldn't be my last.
Sowing the Seed
Having been in the travel industry almost since I left school I began to think that it would be great to maybe travel and run a race overseas.
I looked around and there really wasn't a way for me to simply call a Travel Agent, tell them the race I was interested in and let them do the rest. It was at this point that I decided to start turning my passion into something a little more real so I started up this business and became a fully licensed Travel Agent in November 2000… the seeds of Travelling Fit were planted and about to start growing.
Getting the Word Out
I distributed a few flyers at one of the Sri Chimnoy races in Sydney for the London Marathon. I was amazed at the response and the following year organised for 15 runners and their families to participate.
The feedback was fantastic and I knew that there must be more people like me who wanted to run and travel but were finding it hard to marry the two together.
Soon I became the official agent for the Flora London Marathon (now named the Virgin Money London Marathon), the Great Wall Marathon and the Boston Marathon just to name a few and I was able to help many more people turn their dreams into reality. On a domestic front we sponsor the Melbourne Marathon and are also an official travel agent for the Perth City to Surf Marathon and the Gold Coast Marathon.
It surprised and delighted me to see just how many people we were able to help run and travel, and after a couple of years we had taken people to such far flung places as Tierra del Fuego, Tibet, Chicago and Paris. Australians, it seemed, loved to tackle the world’s best Marathons.
Travelling Fit Today
Travelling Fit has now grown to include over 30 marathons such as the ING New York City Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Tokyo Marathon, Marathon des Sables and Comrades Marathon. We also now support the National Heart Foundation and Cerebral Palsy Education Centre to help them with their fundraising.
Running around the globe
On a more personal note, I have had the opportunity to run in many of these fantastic events. Since giving birth to our beautiful daughter Emma in December 2006 I decided to set myself a goal to help me get back into running and so aimed for the 2007 ING New York City Marathon where both my husband Michael, and I, ran the event.
Later in April 2008 and in celebration of my 40th year I decided to run the London Marathon followed by the Madrid Marathon… but that was not enough so I continued with my training to have a crack at the Comrades Ultra event in June that same year and what a year that was!
In November 2009 I gave birth to our very active and gorgeous boy, Henry. I simply had to get back into shape so my goal was to aim high and train again for the Comrades Marathon in June 2010. And that I did and thoroughly enjoyed it with no pressure whatsoever but to cross the finish line.
From here my interest for running ultra-races increased and so I followed on to run a 3rd Comrades Marathon and before I knew it I signed up for my very first Marathon des Sables in 2012, a 240km self-sufficient multi-stage race across the Moroccan Sahara Desert. This event was on my bucket list for some years and loved it so much that I went back for seconds the year after.
My most recent Ultra was in June 2013 where I ran the 72km Hida Takayama Ultra, set amid the beautiful northern Alps in Central Japan.
If you would like any more information on any of the events I have participated in, or just want to ask a question on Marathon or Adventure travel, please feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
give me a call on 1300 728 296 (+61 2 4385 2455).
In the mean time, happy running and hopefully I will get to say "Hi"
somewhere out on the road