A Berkhamsted athlete has defied challenges including a chronic illness and a near-fatal car accident to break a world record in relay racing.
Zoë Doyle, 35, and her teammates Kirstie Booth, Maria Shaw and Nikki Strurzaker, broke the previous record in the W45 age category in the 4x800m relay by an incredible 37 seconds at the recent British Masters Run, Jump and Throw Open meeting in Sheffield, held on Friday, December 29.
The previous record, held by a Spanish team, was 10 minutes and 12 seconds, making Zoë and her teammates the first in their age category to finish the race in under 10 minutes.
The achievement capped off an outstanding year for Zoë, as she was also crowned W45 European champion in the 800m and 1500m races earlier in 2023.
These amazing feats are made even more incredible when you consider the odds she has had to overcome to get to this point.
Speaking about her sporting career, Zoë said: “It began when I was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis type 2, a very rare chronic disease which causes my body’s immune system to attack my liver cells, after my first child.
“This focused my attention on my health and wellbeing so I could be the best mum possible. Following the birth of my third child, I started competing to get my fitness back.
“I started attending an adult swim course at Berkhamsted Leisure Centre and entered a triathlon in St Albans which I won!”
After this victory, Zoë found herself become more confident and began to train more and found that she enjoyed the thrill of the competition, so much so she embarked on a career in fitness and sports as a holistic empowerment coach.
However, during another road race, Zoë came across another hurdle to take on when she was involved in a road accident that nearly killed her. Despite the incident, she was not to be deterred from her running.
She said: “I was more determined than ever to continue on my journey and decided to join a running club to be able to compete safely.”
Zoë would go on to join London-based running club Belgrave Harriers, becoming a key part of their successful women’s running team.
There, should eventually become the top rate female athlete in her age category in the UK for both the 800m and the 1500m races. In 2015, she decided to go professional.
Speaking about her career and her health, Zoë said: “Exercise and wellbeing, mind, body and soul are important to every aspect of my life. Focusing on all aspects keeps me healthy and ensures my liver disease does not affect me, my sporting achievements or my family life. It helps my happiness and peace of mind.
“I’ve been able to achieve my sporting dreams of being a world record holder, world champion, European champion, British record holder and, almost ten years later, I am still achieving personal bests and getting faster.”