Wonder Woman Iris Schunke

Anyone who knows Iris will know the incredible transition this formidable lady has made. A busy working mum with two children and two jobs, Iris knew she had to make changes. Six years on, Iris is now running and running and running. Her most recent race was the immense Cami de Cavalls in Menorca. TOTN caught up with her last week.

When did you start the fitness regime? About 5-6 years ago I just started walking with a group of other mums along the main road between Pollensa and the Port. Back then the objective was losing weight. The next step was when my friend and colleague Sonia convinced me to do my first event — the 5km Nordic Walk in the Mitja Marato in Pollensa. By then I had lost some weight but since then I’ve lost an awful lot more. I started with a high protein plan (the Dukan diet) but now I just focus on eating healthily with the odd treats at the weekend. 

What inspired you to do it?  Sonia was a great support and very encouraging. Once I got started I found running addictive, it’s like a drug! I always feel like I want to do more, to push myself even more. Walking stopped being enough and I enjoyed the challenge of changing from walking to running. Later, I joined Grup Correm. Running with a group is really motivating and I run with them when it fits in, which isn’t always easy.  Also, I get so many messages from people and when I see people on the street they come and talk to me, all the support means so much. 

Are you ever intimidated by better, faster athletes? I joined Grup Correm three years ago. I was never intimidated exactly, I just knew I wanted to be part of the group. At the beginning, when I was always the last one, I did worry about holding them up, but they are kind, and “they never leave anyone behind”. It’s a group and that’s the main point. They’re happy to share experience and knowledge and I’ve met some great friends from it. 

How would you encourage others? Go ahead, whatever sport, just do something and get fit. Even if it’s hard, over time it gets easier and when you finish, your mind feels so much more open. It is a great way to get out all the negative feelings and be more positive. 

What is your mantra? What keeps you going on a 39km race? My inspiration was my dad. He passed away just before I started this six years ago but he always said to me, “You can do it” and that’s what I focused on while I was running… 

What are your running highlights? That has to be my first half marathon, in Palma. I then did the Pollensa half three weeks later —I just wanted to do it in Palma first where no one knows me!
Then most recently I completed the Mallorca Desert 23km from Colonya Sant Pere to Puerto Alcudia. 95% of the course is on sand and it is hard but I loved it! The Cami de Cavalls in Menorca is the longest so far. 39km, it’s exhausting, the terrain is quite challenging but it was one of the big ticks on my list. 

What’s next? Anymore goals? I’m running the Great South Run in Southampton – 18km. And of course there is the Trail from Soller to Pollensa. I swim twice a week and run two or three times with a long run at the weekend. I’ll keep training and see how I am when the time comes. At the moment anything feels possible!