There’s an awakening going on right now – the realisation that the human body is capable of ‘super-human’ feats. From people running 370 marathons in a year to swimming the Amazon, the limits of what we thought possible are being obliterated. And it’s not just how far, how fast and how long we can go, we’re also rethinking what we can do when we get older.
These seven superstars prove that getting older doesn’t have to mean you have to stop smashing it out of the park.
1,500 Marathon Man
Hitting the big 7-0 doesn’t mean cutting down on mileage if US marathoner Larry Macon is anything to go by. He’s run 1,500 marathons. Yes 1,500!
This Guinness Word Record breaker (for most marathons run in 2008 – 105 of the buggers) clocked a whopping 6,261.8 miles over 239 races in 2013. Not bad for someone who only started running marathons at 51 years old.
Great North Runner
‘Jarra’ Jim Purcell
Jim took up running after his wife died in 1982. His heartbreak propelled him through the London Marathon an impressive 12 times. The World War II veteran also carried the Olympic torch in the relay at the 2012 Games.
After 27 Great North runs on two artificial knees his German doctor advised him to stop, he responded: “You lot couldn’t stop me at Dunkirk and this isn’t going to stop me now.” Go Jarra!
100m World Record holder
Despite being born in 1910 this Polish centenarian is still setting records. He broke the world record for the 100-metre dash, which he ran in 2014. This made him the fastest man over 100 years old to run the race with his time of 32.79 seconds, beating the old 34-second record convincingly. When asked his secret he said: “Never going to the doctor”.
The Iron Nun
Sister Madonna Buder
Sister Madonna Buder is a Roman Catholic nun who’s also the oldest person to finish an Ironman triathlon. Her holy drive got her round a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon run in 2012 at the age of 82. That’s just one of 45 Iron Man triathlons that make up her total of 340 triathlons raced. When asked how she trains she simply said, “I just boogie.”
Britain’s Most Active Pensioner
After averaging 13 marathons a year since he started running at 53, the OAP has been crowned ‘Britain’s Most Overactive Pensioner’ by Senior Railcard.
He claims to have taken part in 333 events in his life with 168 marathons in that list. Despite a heart condition and major back operation he’s still going strong saying, “Your only limit is self-belief”.
Howells has also managed the 56-mile Comrades ultra-marathon, 24-hour endurance events and 53-mile HOKA Highland Fling.
Oldest channel swimmer
This 73-year-old heart surgeon became the oldest person to swim the English Channel in 2014. He first swam the Channel back in 1994 and says the cold is the biggest challenge.
He says foot cramp is a major issue but on his last swim the water was at 18-degrees Celsius, which is apparently warm (!). The 34km swim ends up being a good 40km when currents are taken into account.
Oldest marathon runner
Despite clearing the 100-year age hurdle, Mr Singh only retired from marathon running in 2013 at the age of 102. He’s still running just not competitively. The Indian-born British Sikh took up running in his eighties after his son, daughter and wife died in quick succession. He now encourages people of all religions and nationalities to run for peace.