Book review – Racing on Empty by Iona Rossely

People compete in sport for a number of different reasons.

Some seek glory, others money. Iona Rossely, former British speed-ski champion and Irish endurance horse racer, and author of Racing on Empty, harnessed her sporting abilities to find purpose. But instead of finding meaning in the reflection of a trophy or medal, Rossely realised her sporting career was merely a vehicle through which God was driving her towards her ultimate destiny.

Some years into her career, a skiing accident left Rossely with injuries so severe doctors said she shouldn’t have survived, but she did, and her sporting career thrived. She went on to represent Ireland in the World Championships of Endurance Racing, and then the World Equestrian Games. However, among all of this success, something was missing — a meaningful relationship with God.

What started out as a quest for emotional fulfilment became something so much more. “It was time to let go and let Jesus take the reins,” Rossely said of her realisation. Her relationship with God had been one-sided up to that point, so she decided to start giving back.

She began studying theology, became a practising lay minister, and learnt to trust her faith. She also became a co-ordinator for the Global Sustainability Network (GSN), an interfaith-led organisation devoted to anti-slavery and the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 8.

After a rollercoaster ride of impressive professional achievements, physical and emotional trauma and faith-based epiphanies, Rossely uses her final pages to draw parallels between life and racing, like those in which she competed for a great portion of her life.

“God was showing me that we are all in a race,” she says, “but if we keep our eyes focused just on him then yes, we will win. It doesn’t matter what others are doing, we must not compare ourselves with them, as we are all on a different path … I am still very competitive, but now I’m competitive for God.

Despite its dynamic narrative, Racing on Empty reads with candidness and humility. Rossely guides you through her story hand-in-hand, but never stops to bask in her own successes. Each page, every moment of her career, feels like a necessary step towards finding God. She demonstrates the power of looking beyond our successes to find meaning in our lives.

Iona Rossely is now a lay minister for the Anglican Church, living and working in NSW, Australia.

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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is the Digital Communications Officer in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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