Running: The Perfect Sport for Late Bloomers

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Why running is the perfect sport for late bloomers. Running: The Perfect Sport for Late Bloomers www.runnerclick.com

Did you dream of becoming a sports star growing up? Envisioning, in your mind’s eye, how you’d break records, rack up trophies and dazzle your fans? And then, when you hit 50, stuck in a desk job, realized that it probably wasn’t meant to be? Same here.

And while breaking records on the ice rink or the football field after one’s prime might be a tad ambitious, running is different. In fact, countless individuals who took up running late in life went on to achieve what others simply dream of. They flourished. They broke records, racked up trophies and inspired fellow runners across the globe. And many of them continue to do so till this day.

Here are a few of their incredible stories. Sit back, enjoy, and prepare to be inspired!

Julia Hawkins

Julia Hawkins (101), took up running at the ripe age of 100. And if you think she’s simply tottering around the block, think again. In July this year, Hawkins competed in the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships, clocking an impressive 40.12 for the 100 m sprint. A month before that, at the National Senior Games, “Hurricane Hawkins” clocked 39.62 in the same distance, setting it as an age-group world record.

So what’s her secret? According to Hawkins it’s her supportive family, following a healthy diet and keeping active. She spends a lot of time working in her garden, and cycles and runs a little every day. “Not a certain amount or time – but just to keep everything going”, she says. She’s also been blessed with a delightful sense of humor. After her performance at the USATF Masters Outdoor Champoinships this year, Hawkins had a bit of fun with the media, joking and posing for pictures. “I missed my nap for this”, she smiled with a twinkle in her eye.

Harriette Thompson

Equally inspiring, is Harriette Thompson. Earlier this year, at the age of 94, Thompson became the oldest person ever to complete a half marathon. Thompson, who sadly passed away last month, also set the record for the oldest person ever to complete a full marathon in 2014 at age 91.

A cancer survivor herself, Thompson took up running in her mid-70s as a way to raise money for cancer research. At that stage she’d also lost a number of family members to the disease, making it a cause close to her heart. It’s also this cause that kept her running past her 70s – raising funds and awareness for cancer research was always at the top of her priority list.

Just like Hawkins, Thompson also had a sunny, positive outlook on life. She had fun and posed for selfies with spectators along the course of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon in June this year, and spent most of her free time taking care of others.

Ed Whitlock

Ed Whitlock took up running (again) in his late 60s, after two brief running stints in his 20s and 40s. Motivated by the possibility of becoming the first person over 70 to ever clock a sub-3 hour marathon, Whitlock started “putting in an effort”. And boy, did those efforts pay off. In 2003, at the age of 72, Whitlock realized his dream by clocking 02:59:10 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. A year later, at age 73, he lowered his own 70+ marathon record to 2:54:49.

Whitlock went on to record a string of records in the 70+, 75+, 80+ and 85+ age groups over distances from 1500 m to the marathon. In October 2016, at the age of 85, Whitlock recorded a time of 3:56:33 at the Toronto Marathon, becoming the first person ever in the 85+ age group to break four hours for the marathon.

Known for his humbleness and simplicity, Whitlock defied convention. He didn’t stretch, strength train or cross train and, instead, simply focused on high-volume running. When injured, Whitlock would simply rest until his body recovered enough to resume his high-mileage weeks. He also followed no special diet, and trained in old shoes that he won at previous races.

Whitlock passed away in March 2017 at the age of 86.

And Many Others Too

And if you think that Hawkins, Thompson and Whitlock are the exception to the rule, you’d be wrong. Just look at the following additional inspirational results for the 2017 USATF Masters Outdoor Championships :

  • Mary Norckauer (92) entered ten events at the championships, including four running events and six field events. She won all ten.
  • Jeanne Daprano (80), completed the 1500 m women’s event in 8:06.18. That translates to 8:44.93 for the mile, a meet record.
  • Christel Donley (82), won her heat of the 100 m sprint in 21.60.
  • Sabra Harvey (68) clocked 5:33.41 for the 1500 m, which coverts to 5:59.98 for the mile. This was also a meet record.

It’s Never Too Late to Dream

So let these stories inspire you and re-ignite that long-lost competitive drive. And always remember the one thing that these incredible athletes are proof of: It’s never, ever too late to dream. Or to become a hero.

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