Piccadilly Pulse: Could you see yourself running a marathon in your 70s?

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the legendary expedition leader, recently run a so-called Ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert at age 71.

The event, set up in 1986, is a multi-stage challenge is the equivalent length of five and a half marathons over the course of five to six days in the scorching desert sun.

Though not quite as extreme, the ASICS Manchester Marathon took place over the weekend, winding its way from Old Trafford to the half-way point in Altrincham and back again.

Crowds lined the streets to cheer and performers prepared to entertain the runners over the 26 mile and 385 yard course.

Thousands of runners took part, and the people of Manchester were there to support them every step of the way.

But we at Mancunian Matters got to thinking about Sir Ranulph, and we decided to hit the streets and ask: 

Could you see yourself running a marathon in your 70s?

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Bernard Dolan, from Timperley, is a retired trophy engraver and leads the Loose Change Buskers.

The 70-year-old has a history of running, revealed his regret at not running the imposing desert marathon at an earlier age.

He said: “When I was running, I would have loved to have a go at the Marathon Des Sables – that would be the ultimate thing to do.

“I have done everything else, I climbed Mt Kilamanjaro six years ago, but that’s the one.

“I’ve run 49 marathons and that is the one that I really regret not doing. Honestly, I would have loved to, but I’m too old now.”

REGRET: Bernard Dolan said his marathon days were behind him at 70

Malcolm Armstrong was also out busking for charity with his dog Cookie, and the 59-year-old mechanic from Timperley was optimistic about his chances.

He said: “I would like to think so, yeah, I am going to do the Run for Life.

“I’m just starting off running again at 5k, and then the 10k and hopefully the marathon too in a year or two.”

OPTIMISTIC: Malcolm Armstrong is hoping to continue running in his 70s

Others were not so sure; Nick Marks, a 39-year-old Company Director from Altrincham, said: “I couldn’t see myself running a marathon now.”

Amanda Luby, also from Altrincham, echoed Nick’s sentiments, saying: “I can’t imagine running a marathon now – I can’t imagine me running a marathon twenty years ago.”

The 39-year-old Customer Sales Manager added that she recognised Sir Ranulph’s achievement: “Fair play to him, utmost respect.”

RESPECT: Amanda Luby said she respected elderly marathon runners

Mike Bramhall, who runs the Bowden based the Magic Voices quoir, was supporting runners on Sunday with the community singers.

He said: “I think by the time we get to mile 13 and a half where we are now they need that encouragement, the marathon runners.”

On the prospect of him running a marathon into his 70s, he added: “I hope so because I’m a marathon runner myself, I’m doing the London Marathon next weekend.

“I’d like to think that I will be doing, I think my time will have slowed down somewhat by then.”

Richard Lloyd was at the half-way point cheering on his son, Simon, but the 61-year-old Marketing Consultant from Bury was in awe of Sir Ranulph.

He said: “Absolutely not, but then I’m not Ranulph Fiennes. I can’t imagine running a marathon, I’d give in.”

The feeling doesn’t appear to run in the family though, since his son Simon was half-way through running three marathons over three weekends, including the Paris, Manchester, and London marathons.

Richard added that: “The mention of the Berlin marathon has happened in the last ten minutes as well, I think its next year. I don’t know whether he’s going to go for four next year.”

NO CHANCE: Richard Lloyd ruled out running a marathon in his 70s

Ashley Stocks, a student in Manchester City Centre, was keen to spread the word on the benefits of running.

On whether he would continue into his 70s, the 20 year old said: “I would like to think so; I know the physical effects of training into later life are massive.

“I think it’s really impressive. I hope to stay active, and I think its inspirational to see people like that, it makes you want to do that kind of thing.”

Ashley is well aware of some of the pit-falls of training, he explained that: “I run marathons myself, I trained for the London Marathon but I got injured.”

On the day there were plenty of travelling fans showing support, including Colin Overton of the Ealing Eagles running club.

The 36-year-old Programmer from London said: “I could consider it. My Dad was supposed to run today apart from getting injured, he’s 68, so yes.

“It takes a toll, but it can be done. You just got to make sure you keep your mileage kind of steady, don’t too much. If you do make too much effort you can do your body damage.”

CAN BE DONE: Richard Overton’s 68-year-old father still runs marathons

Collette O’Donoghue, 32, was in town for the Marathon with the Watergrasshill Athletics Club from Cork.

She was also aware of the threat of injury, but said: “Probably, if we kept at it, we actually had one of our runners do the Marathon Des Sables and he came 74th.

“I think it depends if you stay injury free at the top.”

Marc Mottram, a 46-year-old sales worker from Hale, explained that he looked forward to keeping active into his 70s.

“I hope so, I’ve not managed a marathon yet but I’ve done a few half marathons. So yeah, you never know, you’ve got to keep active.”

KEEP ACTIVE: Marc Mottram is aiming to run a marathon in his 70s

Ian Chidlow, 24, was less optimistic but hoped to be able to stay energetic later in life.

The Northwich Support Worker, originally from Knutsford, said of running a marathon in his 70s: “Certainly not, although I would love to be that active at 70. Think it is just a dream though.”

Ashley Connelly, 28 from Broadheath, works as a Personal Trainer but couldn’t see himself running a marathon.

He was happy to support the runners on the day with his colleagues, and said: “No, I couldn’t personally, but respect for anyone that can.

“I’m not a big runner, and we’re here to show a bit of support for the community.”

Image courtesy of Pauleon Tan via FlickR, with thanks.

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