About RunYoung50

Women’s running history
and the stories of older women runners

Katie Holmes

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 conducted face to face interviews with six women, aged 50 to 70-plus, with different running biographies and motivations. This blog started as an informal research project and I have analysed the first four interviews, looking at how the women became involved in long-distance running.

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 GreigJoyce 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

Podcast music: Hasenchat at pixabay.com, photo: Athletic.Photography

Most Read Articles

The six most popular articles on my blog recently….

Female Ultrarunners over 50

Female Ultrarunners over 50

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...

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Running on HRT

Running on HRT

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...

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Diane Leather and the 5 minute mile

Diane Leather and the 5 minute mile

On 29th May 1954 Diane Leather became the first woman to run a mile in less than 5 minutes, when she competed at the Midlands Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championships at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium. Her time was 4 minutes and 59.6 seconds. Why is her record-breaking achievement far less well-known than Sir Roger Bannister’s sub-4 minute mile record, set 23 days earlier?

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“Jeffing” the Yorkshire Marathon

“Jeffing” the Yorkshire Marathon

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...

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