Jolene Olde is running for her life. The 33-year-old mother of three spent nine years married to an abusive heroin addict until running gave her the strength to break free and start a new life.

After years of coming home to finding the family car sold, being threatened with knives or guns her husband finally went to rehab.

It was while her husband was in rehab that Olde began a journey that has led to three marathons and now Sunday’s SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3® Mandurah.

“That was the point where my running, amongst other things, really started to change my life. I would run along the beach in the morning and run and pray and cry and run. First I could only go about 1km. Then slowly I would go further and further,” she said. “I began to realise I was running into my freedom. Many days I ran and then laid on the beach sobbing my guts out. But I always got back up.”

After her husband returned from rehab the family purchased a take/away shop and began rebuilding their shattered lives. However after a period of normalcy her husband’s demons once again took hold and he began to steal from the business. It was then that Olde drew on the strength and self-esteem running had provided and made a decision for her and her children’s future.

“He went from stealing to the violence returning and it was then I could have him removed from the shop. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I took over the business with a newborn and three other children and worked like crazy. He got arrested again I think, or disappeared for a while and finally six years ago left our lives for the last time,” she said.

After building her business from two employees to 12, she decided to sell up and move the family to a new location. It was during her time in the business that her love of running became a love of triathlon.


One day after a run along the beach Olde simply decided to go for a swim, after that she purchased a bike and began training for her first triathlon.

“It was almost accidental in a way, but I have loved every minute of it,” she said.

Olde believes triathlon has had an enormous effect on her physical and mental health.

“I love the freedom, strength, ability, health and vitality triathlon gives me,” she said.

Watching their mum set a goal, train and then achieve, it also teaches her children many valuable life lessons.

Her eldest son grew up in the tornado of the family’s past and is the most affected by the experience.

“He will have to continue to overcome his own depression and anxiety as he goes into adulthood, however, he has changed and grown so much in the last few years. He is the most kind, amazing and courageous young man and I am incredibly proud of him,” she said.

Her three daughters were younger when the marriage ended and have not been as affected.

“We try and keep the love and fun in our family. They are so resilient and such happy funny kids. My two oldest girls (nine and seven) completed their first kid’s duathlon last month,” she said.

Olde hopes that by sharing her story she may inspire one woman to make a change.

“I am responsible for my own freedom- freedom from fear and violence. It is possible. It's a journey and doesn't happen overnight, but if you keep fighting for it and keep running, keep riding, keep swimming, keep praying, anyone can be free,” she said.

Over 1,400 age group athletes will be racing over the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah.

SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah supported by the Western Australian Government through Royalties for Regions, Healthway in promoting the SunSmart message and the City of Mandurah.

The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Recognized for excellence through distinguished events, world-class athletes and quality products, IRONMAN has grown from a single race to a global sensation with more than 250 events across five unique brands: IRONMAN®, IRONMAN 70.3®, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Multisport events, Iron Girl® and IRONKIDS®. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.