Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Running Strong at Age 80 - Part II

Last week I introduced you to Gordon Booth, a fellow runner still going strong at the age of 80.  Most of his post 75 PRs kick my butt at age 35 - how's that for inspiration?!  My absolute favourite quote from Part I of my interview with Gordon is his reply to my question why he runs: "Why do I run?  How can I not run?".  Love it!  I share exactly the same sentiment.

Gordon enjoying a recent run in the countryside.  [Source.]

Today my interview with Gordon concludes with, amongst other things, his advice for new runners and his future running aspirations:

Running the Race (RtR): What advice would you give to someone just starting out on their running journey?
Gordon Booth (GB): The best advice I’d give to anyone starting on their running journey is simply to enjoy it, and if you can’t enjoy it, don’t do it.  Find another sport that you CAN enjoy.

Gordon relaxing in his study.

RtR: What is the most memorable run/race that you have ever done?
GB:  My most memorable race(s) was the London Marathon in 1993, followed seven days later by the Three Peaks of Yorkshire.  A Sikh friend of mine, Ajit Singh, who’d finished second to me in the Pennine marathon, cajoled me into running London.  Being unemployed, I didn’t know how I was going to afford the trip to London, or the expense of accommodation for a weekend, so I was somewhat reluctant.  But Ajit was adamant.  “You come with me and stay with my friends in London, it won’t cost you anything, and the coach fare is only £15 return. You must come, you will beat them all”.  I was eventually persuaded and in 1993 lined up at the red start with all the ‘good for their age’ veterans.  I had an absolute flier, finishing in 2.54.18 to take the MV60 title and go top of the British Rankings for that year.  Ajit was ecstatic, for my sake, and although he finished some way behind me, had the honour of his picture appearing in a special souvenir ‘London Marathon’ book published later that year.  I’m told I ran the fastest MV60 marathon time in the world that year.
A week after winning London, I lined up for the prestigious ‘Three Peaks of Yorkshire’ fell race, 24 miles of rough country with 4,500 ft of ascent.  Everyone said I was an idiot and shouldn’t attempt such a tough race straight after London.  In what must be one of the most outstanding ‘doubles’ of my career, however, I won the MV60 race in 4.09, with no ill effects.  I went on to win the MV60 category in the ‘Peaks’ three times and, just to prove it was no fluke, ran London again two years later in the even faster time of 2.53.04 to take the Championship yet again.

RtR: If you had the opportunity to do it all over again, what would you do differently in your running career?
GB:  Running and racing has given me the best years of my life.  If I’d known it was going to do so I’d have started years earlier.  I was recently in the Canary Islands watching one of the Sky Race series of races that ran for over fifty miles over some of the wildest and most beautiful scenery in the world.  I watched the leaders come by from the highest point, the Roque de los Muchachos at around 8,000 ft, then jogged clumsily back down as more runners, male and female, tootled past, sure-footed, like poetry in motion.  I stayed ahead of my partner so she wouldn’t see me crying, crying because I desperately wished that I was still able to do such things, but have now grown too old.  I started far too late.  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.

Gordon and his lovely partner at the Roque de los Muchachos.  [Source.]

RtR: What are your current running goals and aspirations?
GB: My only ambitions now are to keep on running and enjoying life into my 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.  I’ll carry on racing for as long as I’m able, for even now, I feel there’s a champion stuck inside me somewhere, albeit a very old one, just waiting to burst out when I least expect it. 
                                                                         * * *
Thank you so much, Gordon, for taking the time to share with us this glimpse of your amazing running career - you truly are an inspiration.  Wishing you countless more happy and healthy miles for the future!

3 comments:

  1. Wow, very inspirational! I hope I can be like that when I'm 80...only my PB's will be much slower. :)

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  2. OMG. I love him! I so hope that I'm able to run when I'm 80. I love seeing people his age running races, it's incredibly inspirational and they always seem to be having the best time and know the most people! Thanks for sharing this!

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  3. How awesome is he?! I hope I'm able to get around like that when I'm in my 80's! Loved these last two posts. Thanks for sharing his story!! :D

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