Inspiring Runners


Christine Kennedy

Christine Kennedy-link to photo source and article here

Is there something wonderful going on in Senior Running?

I am prompted to think this by the many posts of veteran runner, Mary Lou Harris and the following  comment from Mary Lou on one of my Dublin City Marathon posts:

Great reporting and photography. I just came across a Running Times article about Christine Kennedy, age 59, who won the Dublin Marathon back in 1982 and this year ran a 2:59 marathon (apparently an age record).

Senior women are burning up the roads and the records this year.

Christine Kennedy, as it turns out, is a Galway woman, long settled in California, where she co-owns two running shops and runs up to 85 miles per week. Inspired by the inaugural Dublin City Marathon of 1981, she vowed that she would run it too, even though, at that point she was very unfit. She commenced training that year and, in October 1982, she ran her first marathon in 3 hours 31 minutes.

In 1990 Christine was the first woman home in the Dublin marathon in a time of 2:41:27 and she repeated that success the following year in a time of 2: 35:36.

Long settled in America, and, with years of great competitions and success behind her, Christine is now focussed on being the first lady in the F60 category to run a sub 3 hour marathon. She has targeted Boston 2015 for this attempt.

I put that proposed time in perspective by digging through the results page on the Dublin City Marathon website.  It’s well worth perusing the stats there to see the state of play in this country for senior women. And, although we’re not close to having an F60 woman run a sub-3 hour marathon, the results are still very heartening.

There are three women in the F75 category, with the lead lady Anette Olsson coming in at 5 hours 8 minutes and 44 seconds.

The F70 category has eleven runners in total with Frances Brelauer leading the category with a finish time of 4:35:57.

The F65 category has a best finish time from Sue Nicholl of 3:43:45

While the F60 winning time is delivered by Mary Lynch on 3:45:44.

The important thing, in my book, is not that the records are broken, but that everyone takes fitness seriously, as a means of enhancing their quality of life. If aiming to beat one’s own PR, one’s neighbour, or break a record drives that goal on, then that’s a good thing.

Just seeing older people out there running, inspires all of us. Women in this country especially, have not always been encouraged to do this in the past. However, Dublin marathon participation rates for older ladies compare very favourable with popular marathons such as Prague and Boston, and, given the numbers of younger women who have taken up running in recent years, the senior race participation rates should increase a lot in the years to come

My body serves me very well but, a reality check tells me that it’s more of a trusty Volvo than a nippy little Porsche. Even with all the training on the planet, I am not going to break any landspeed records any time soon.

 I do enjoy being fit, though. And I do believe fitness of for everyone, not just the super duper elite athletes.
 Sure, there’s that little nagging voice going on that mocks my efforts and chides me:
Hey, aren’t you too old for this?
Is this really doing you any good?”
” Wouldn’t it be nicer just to curl up with a great book?”
And, much though I’d especially like to concede to the last point, I know I have to keep getting out there to benefit from the cardiovascular conditioning that regular aerobic exercise provides.
Our running elders are guiding the way to a healthier, fitter future. A future that’s there for any of us with a little luck and a lot of effort. Of course, it doesn’t have to happen through running either. But I suppose, what with all the events on offer, from parkruns to marathons, there’s a lot of opportunity these days to enjoy running.
Mary Lou Harris has a lovely post about Olga Kotelko and her super senior running successes. Olga is 94.
So c’mon, if we all keep moving, maybe we’ll be wonderful in our F90 or M90 years too!


6 thoughts on “Inspiring Runners

  1. Yes I totally relate to this RH. I don’t preach speed or success to my adult group but ‘quality of life’. Certainly runners who are lucky with injury seem to go on and on, often defying their years with barely declining standards. Here in Jersey Jo Gorrod, now well into her 40s, is still looking over her shoulder at younger rivals who remain well behind her.

  2. You’ve summed this up so nicely. The desire to be fit and the ability to be at the start line of a race are both gifts I take seriously. I won’t be running Boston this year, so I will add Christine Kennedy to the folks I will be tracking.

  3. Often I see older people who are struggling just to walk up the street, usually a bit overweight – it makes me sad. Running is all about freedom of movement and keeping that freedom for a long time. Great post Red Hen, loved all the comments 🙂 Running, I think, is also the recipe for growing old disgracefully…where else can an older person wear lycra and singlet tops without being questioned? hehe 🙂 And most of us ‘younger’ runners think they are totally awesome in their skimpy gear too!

  4. We walk every day a few kilometres. In between we take a break, also to give our JRT Milo a rest seeing his steps are 15 cm. We are both 74 and fit as a fiddle. No medication or artificial limbs and sleep well. Thank you for keeping up the good work. Fitness is essential to health and happiness..

  5. oh how wonderful, i feel the same way, i only found running a mere 4 or 5 months ago… NEVER in my widest dreams did i think it ever possible, i wish i had done something years and years ago, but i didnt and so be it. Now, at 50, i am LOVING it, i too think often while i am running… “gosh CK, 50, running and LOVING it, how life changing!” and i smile and i am thankful that i can.
    I am off to Mary Lou’s page now, thank you for sharing xxx
    PS, how are you doing 🙂 xxx

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