Three Inspirational Running Role Models over 80
Gordon Booth (84), Ed Whitlock (85) and Norman Phillips (92) are all living proof that running not only adds years to your life, but also life to your years. All three of these gentlemen exude a joyful passion for running that has inspired hundreds of people of all ages to get off the couch and get moving.
So if you or someone you know has fallen prey to the myth that you’re too old to start running, or that running only benefits the young and the restless, then think again. Let the stories of these running octogenarians and nonagenarian inspire you to lace up those running shoes and start benefiting from the myriad of perks that running has to offer.
Gordon Booth, who turned 84 in May 2016, started running at the age of 54. Not only did he discover that he had a passion for running; he also discovered that he was pretty good at it too! Gordon ran his first marathon at age 55 in a speedy 3:30:04, and continued to claim the MV60 title at the London Marathon five years later, at age 60, in a blistering 2:54:18. But that’s only the beginning. Gordon’s list of running achievements is literally just as long as it is impressive. He currently boasts post-75 personal bests that runners half his age envy, including a 22:24 5K and 45:32 10K.
If given the chance to do something different in his running career, Gordon would do only one thing differently: He would have started running sooner.
“I started far too late,” Gordon says. “If I had my time to come over again, I’d be out there enriching my life on those long trails and sky races, alongside the gods and goddesses of the running world.”
Today, at age 84, Gordon’s ambition is to keep on running and enjoying life into his twilight years.
“I pray to God every day that I might retain my health and fitness to carry on doing the things I love and going to places I love with the person I love.”
English-born Ed Whitlock, 85, did some running as a teenager, and then took it up again in his forties, after moving to Canada. His list of running achievements is nothing short of mind-boggling, with no less than 36 world age class records on both road and track currently written behind his name.
In 2003, at age 72, Ed became the first person ever at his age to complete a marathon in under three hours, clocking a time of 2:59:10. He has since improved that record to 2:54:49 and, after clocking a 2:58:40 marathon at age 74, is believed to be the oldest person ever to run a marathon in less than three hours.
Ed is equally fast over shorter distances. The following of his 10,000 m outdoor track records are all currently still intact: Men (70-74): 38:04.13; Men (75-79): 39:25.16; Men (80-84): 42:39.95; and Men (85-89): 51:07.53. What an incredibly talented man.
Just like Gordon Booth, Norman Phillips, 92, also took up running relatively late in life, at the age of 62. He ran his first race that year and continued to do the London Marathon in 4:29 at age 63. But perhaps the running feat that Norman is most renowned for, is joining parkrun‘s Club 100 at age 92. He achieved this milestone in January this year, becoming the oldest person ever to do so.
Norman’s parkrun journey began in June 2013, shortly before his 90th birthday, at the Kawana parkrun in Australia. He later changed his home parkrun to the flatter nearby Brightwater parkrun, which was easier on his achy hips. In January 2016, after two-and-a-half years of consistent parkrunning, Norman finally earned his coveted black Club 100 shirt. He did so by successfully completing his 100th parkrun event. Norman has indicated that he will be focusing more on volunteering in future. But, he jokingly adds that he’ll be running “until he drops”.
Gordon, Ed and Norman are living proof that running is most certainly not only for the young. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re too old to start running. What are you waiting for? Stop wasting another day and get up, get your physician’s approval, and get moving. You never know where running will take you!