We often hear people say they are too old to run and we are determined to show that it is never too late. The benefits of running trail are just as valuable if you are 9 or 99. So when we heard of the amazing Judith Brand who celebrated her 70th birthday by running an ultra marathon we knew we wanted her to tell her story and inspire others on The Trail Zone at The National Running Show. The following is a summary of that story, which Judith told to a packed audience.
Forgive the cheek, but how old is old and how did you get into running trails?
I got into road running in my 50's and plucked up the courage to join a local running club. I was nervous to start with but everyone was so welcoming. I ran a couple of marathons but about two years ago I joined a weekly trail running club, and found I really enjoyed off road running. I ran my first ultra at 70 years old in October 2019.
What does trail running mean to you?
I find trail running much more relaxing, there is no pressure on pace, we run in such beautiful places with fabulous scenery and have lots of fun on muddy trails. There is a great sense of freedom, being in the great outdoors.
What kind of runner are you? Racer, explorer, medal collector, social runner?
Explorer and social runner I think. Love going out in the Peak District with fellow trail enthusiasts enjoying the challenging terrain (sometimes!)and breathtaking scenery.
What did your friends and family think of you celebrating your 70th by running an ultra?
Some family members and friends thought I was crazy, some people thought I was brave but had misgivings, some people thought what an incredible thing to do.
What motivates you to go for longer distances?
I never thought I would be able to run further than a marathon but trail running is just so much more relaxing, you don't just think of how many miles you've got to go it's more about reaching the next checkpoint or the next viewpoint, climbing over stiles, reaching the top of the next hill. The sense of achievement is a great motivator to go even longer.
What are the benefits of being an older runner?
Not as much pressure to go faster and chase PB's (been there, done that!) Freedom to enjoy the journey rather than just getting to the finish line.
What is the hardest thing you have had to deal with?
Learning to navigate! (Still a lot to learn!!). Plucking up courage to join a running club, thinking I was too old and too slow. When I finally did, other club runners were very welcoming and encouraging.
What tips would you give to people to get into trail running?
Join a local group, go on organised / guided runs. There are also trail walking/hiking groups, navigation courses, residential weekends. There are loads of trail events in beautiful locations.
Already entered the Peak District 33 Ultra again in the Autumn but now thinking could I do the Peak District 50 mile? Who knows ....