PROFILE: Rising Starr

For more than 14 years, running was an addictive curse feeding a sickness that clouded Lauren Starr’s world.  TRM Editor, Chris Ord, goes for a run with an inspiring young woman who has battled Anorexia Nervosa and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.


I am an insensitive idiot.

For most of her life, Lauren Starr has suffered from anorexia nervosa. An eating disorder. So where do I arrange to meet for the first time?

“Let’s meet at The Pantry, it’s a great little foodie place on the main street.”

The Pantry.

You idiot.

That said, like a contortionist unencumbered by the warning bells of a normal person’s sensitivity radar, I manage to squeeze the other foot into my mouth with ease.

In the initial email detailing her background, Lauren, a 26-year-old physiotherapist from Rowville, Victoria, tells me that she has also suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a debilitating state that renders people unable to function in daily life as they struggle with unending and extreme exhaustion.

My idea for a good interview session, then?


“How about we run the first leg of the Victorian Trail Running Festival course,” I suggest, thinking it appropriate given Lauren is an ambassador for the event. The route is 34km, a distance she has – despite being a talented runner – only completed once before, and one that would require a fair energy-sapping effort. Lauren later explains that she has to be measured about her physical undertakings and the level of exertion required, as keeping at bay a potential relapse into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome means being careful about what she takes on in terms of running efforts.

Halfway through our run – she remains sensible and curtails her effort to a more comfortable 20km – I’m also still mortified to think that the first thing I said after hello, was “what would you like to eat?”

“It was okay,” says Lauren when I apologise. “The eating disorder will always be with me, but that’s not what I fear or obsess about as much now. It’s more the fear of lapsing back into Chronic Fatigue that dictates how I live my daily life.”

It makes sense, then, that she eventually ordered a muffin back at The Larder. I took that as either a sign of being free from the monster that is calorie-counting anorexia or that she was, against advice of all her inner demons, being polite. Wrong on both counts.

“No, once I realised we were going to run longer than I expected, I was weighing up how much energy I’d use, what would be the nutritional needs against that kind of distance, to ensure I wouldn’t take a massive dip in my energy reserves. It’s a constant balance like that – I’m always thinking about how to maintain a level of energy and healthiness. I never want to be so debilitated again, like I was with Chronic Fatigue. I never want to be unable to run again.”

WEB 2Today, running – and a pure love of it – is Lauren’s angel on the shoulder where once it was the devil. In the darker days it played a large part in fuelling the anorexia.

“I used it [running] to keep weight off,” says Lauren. “I was always pretty competitive and driven – I think you find that in a lot of sufferers – so the fast times, personal bests and trying to win was, like it is for many runners, part of the drive. But the over-riding motivator to run was because it kept me skinny.”

Lauren recounts one of her darkest moments as being in an almost manic meltdown as a teenager, when it was looking like she could not go on a planned after-school run. Unable to drive her to the run, her parents copped the wrath of a girl consumed by an irrational fear that missing one single outing would lead to devastating weight gain.

“I cried and shouted until they relented and found a way to get me to that run. At the time, in my head, the world was crashing down around me. Looking back, it seems so ridiculous. But the disease of anorexia is not a rational or sensible thing.”

WEB 3While running became an integral part of the machinations of anorexia, it was not what initially sparked the downward spiral. Until the age of eleven, Lauren had like many other young girls her age been enjoying childhood and was yearning to own a horse. Her naturally driven personality came to the fore as she asked for no presents just money every Christmas and birthday from age six until she had saved enough money to buy the horse. Her spare time was then consumed with riding and caring for it.

“Because I was always riding or mucking out stables, I was physically active,” says Lauren. “And that meant while other friends were watching TV, eating crisps, I was burning energy and as a result I lost some weight.”

“Before that time, I had never even thought about the concept of fat or skinny or been conscious of my weight at all. But some random – and they were actually positive – comments on my change in body shape woke up something inside me, it turned attention to how my body looked. That quickly turned into an obsession.”

Lauren was soon refusing food and counting calories with fervour.


“You could show me nearly any food and I’d know the calorie count and fat content,” says Lauren. “I knew it wasn’t normal, I guess, in that my friends weren’t doing the same thing and they would try to get me to eat things. But I justified it in my head – my world-view somehow contorted what was happening and made it okay, made it normal. So nothing was wrong with me.”

This despite increasing visits to doctors and specialists and, as she came of age, her menstruation was MIA. All the while, and despite low calorie intake, Lauren’s running excelled.

“I wasn’t a regular runner as a kid so much, but a friend encouraged me to go running with her shortly after I initially developed anorexia. The more I ran, the more I found I could maintain or even drop my weight, so it started to feed into the anorexia.

“I also began to do well at it, so the recognition I received for performing on cross country runs, road runs and eventually triathlons, also helped. I needed that reassurance, the affirmation of being good at something. And the fact I was skinny was seen as a good thing. In the running world, being skinny is a positive. Also, in my head, it helped my performances. So the skinnier I was, the better on all fronts.”

Cover TRM14 medDiscover how Lauren overcame her challenges…read the rest of her story in Edition 14, which you can download for FREE now, here

To talk to someone confidentially about anything relating to eating disorders, see 

For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, see

Lauren is an ambassador for the the VICTORIAN TRAIL RUNNING FESTIVAL, 1-3 November. Worth a crack…

Backyard multiday: Trailfest launches

Trail fest 4Australia’s first 100km multi day stage trail running and trekking festival, Trailfest Sydney, to be held on spectacular National Park trails on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches, has launched with entries now open.

Taking place across the Anzac Day weekend, 24-27 April 2014, the three-day event will take runners through some of Sydney’s most iconic and scenic national parks and trails in Manly Dam, St Ives, Roseville, Belrose, Duffys Forest and Bobbin Head, affording sensational views of Bantry Bay, Middle Harbour, Cowan Creek and Broken Bay.

Trailfest 3

With limited places available, organisers describe Trailfest Sydney as being suitable for both amateur adventurers and seasoned runners and trekkers, offering achievable daily course times to attract participants to this emerging, globally popular format of multi day running events.

Returning each night to camp under the stars at St Ives Showground, runners will be able to view daily results as well as images and footage of the event on a big screen. The Anzac Day Dawn Service will also screen live in the campsite on Friday 25 April.

Trail Fest 2

Trailfest Sydney has been launched by the team behind the successful Big Red Run ultra-marathon, held in the Simpson Desert in July 2013. There will be inspirational talks at the campsite hosted by special guest speakers to keep participants motivated for each race day.

Fundraising from the event will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) through the Born To Run Foundation, a charity founded by amateur runner and Trailfest founder Greg Donovan, whose son Stephen was diagnosed with the potentially fatal type 1 juvenile diabetes at age 14.

Trail fest 5

More than 130,000 Australians are living with type 1 diabetes, with six new cases diagnosed every day and around a quarter of Australians affected directly or through family and friends.

“This is an extremely accessible event, both in terms of locality and physical requirements,” says Donovan. “Everyone from youngsters through to retirees can participate and enjoy the sights of Sydney in this Australian-first adventure and support an important cause at the same time.”

“The unique difference with multi day events such as Trailfest is that they give the running and trekking community the chance to come together for a few days and share camaraderie at the campsite, which is something that single stage events are unable to offer. We are so lucky to have these fantastic trails right on our doorstep, and Trailfest will give people the chance to discover parts of Sydney they have never seen before ,” said Donovan.

Trailfest participants are not required to fundraise, but if they choose to do so they will be entitled to entry fee rebates as they reach fundraising milestones.

An Australian-owned and organised event, Trailfest Sydney will be underpinned by a comprehensive safety plan, with running and trekking event specialists Adrian Bailey and Lucas Trihey managing the event, safety and logistics.

There is a generous early bird discount for entries before 30 November. To register or for more information head to

Trailfest Sydney is Australia’s first 100km multi day stage race being held on Sydney’s North Shore from 24-27 April 2014. The event will be broken into three days of running and trekking through Sydney’s National Parks and trails:

Trailfest Promo from Born to Run Foundation on Vimeo.


With the mission of “fitness for fighting diabetes”, the Born To Run Foundation aims to raise much-needed funds for diabetes research as well as awareness about fitness to tackle Type 1. The registered charity was founded by amateur runner Greg Donovan, whose son Stephen was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes at age 14. All donations to the Foundation will go to research projects and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes: