Women’s running history
and the stories of older women runners
My reason for starting this blog was that I wanted to share and give value to the stories of older female runners. Having turned 50, I was aware that I had reached an age where women are less valued by society and can seem to become invisible. They are generally not expected to be physically active, and active older women rarely appear in the media. When they do, the narrative often focuses on them as exceptions to the rule and casts them as “supergrans”. Exceptional stories can alienate us, as we may feel that we can never aspire to the same level of achievement. I believe that “ordinary” stories hold just as much value and we can learn just as much, if not more, from them.
I’ve become more and more interested in the history of women’s endurance running, and the campaign for women to be allowed to run marathons. I’ve written about pioneering marathon runners Dale Greig, Joyce Smith, Kathrine Switzer and Jacqueline Hansen, and about Diane Leather, the first woman to run a mile in under 5 minutes.
I believe that it is important to share these stories from the past. Stories which show what women achieved in the face of limited opportunities and prejudice. Stories that built the foundations for women’s sport today. We should not allow the prejudice of the time to make them invisible to us now.
My Running Story
My running story
I started running in 2011, aged 47, to raise funds for the charity where I was a trustee. I had promised I would run a leg in the Robin Hood Marathon relay. Once I had said I would do it I had to carry it through and by the time I’d done the training for the event seven months later I was hooked on running. That five mile relay leg felt like a huge achievement and it was great fun! I enjoy running and racing and that motivates me to continue. I celebrated my 50th birthday in 2013 with the feeling that running was making me younger as I am fitter now than I was at 40.
Since I started this blog in 2014 I’ve done several things that I never thought I would, including competing in cross country races, track races and a 24-hour running event. I’ve found lots of new paths and places to run and become part of a running community, through my club and my local parkrun. Like many other people who take up a sport in middle age, I’ve been surprised by what I can achieve and I’m looking forward to what comes next.
Podcast music: Hasenchat at pixabay.com, photo: Athletic.Photography
Interviews and Articles
Interviews with me
Tough Girl Podcast interview, January 2021
Blue Sky Running, Competitive after 50, March 2020
Dr Juliet McGrattan’s active women series, January 2019
Video interview with Tony Pallotta, Runners Connect, included in an article: What does it means to become a masters athlete?, October 2017
Articles in print
There’ll be no prizes for women, Like the Wind magazine #25 (an article about Dale Greig), September 2020
Running Club Histories, Sporting Heritage, April 2021
Female Leadership at Fifty – Pursuing my curiosity, November 2019
Most Read Articles
The six most popular articles on my blog recently….
**Guest post** I'm delighted to feature this article from my friend and fellow club member Christine Oldfield. Her running story started more than 30 years ago and, now in her seventies, Christine is definitely a runner with staying power....
There is not much research into, or information about, the impact of the perimenopause and menopause on runners. What effect might it have on women's endurance and on our performance? How can we cope with the symptoms of the menopause? Should we...
In January I added three women to my list of running bloggers over 50. I noticed that all three of them run ultra distance races. Alene Nitzky, from Colorado USA, has been running ultras since 1991 and has run the Badwater 135 race twice. Carolin...
Arriving late for my first race of the cross country season in 2017, I was already feeling hot and bothered by the time I'd dumped my bag, got my trail shoes on and made my way to the start. It was unseasonably warm weather for...
This is the story of how I got to the starting line of my first marathon and what happened on the day. Getting ready for the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon on Sunday 9th October 2016 I thought about the interview I had done with Sandy Poole in January...
On a sunny day in August 1980 200 women from 27 countries lined up in Battersea Park in London to run a marathon. It was the first time the city's streets had ever been closed for a race. It was the 3rd August. Two days before the men's marathon...