Hilary Wharam is known as Forrest Gump to her friends. She began running in 1994 when she was 52 years old, winning two 10k races in her age category. Hilary ran her first marathon in 1997 at London Marathon, finishing in a time of 4:04:48.
Now aged 76, she could be forgiven for taking it easy after years of pounding the pavements. But, she is determined to show that age should not be a barrier preventing anyone from doing what they love. Despite having an arthritic spine, which requires pain management for her to continue running, Hilary has set her sights on completing 100 marathons before she hangs up her trainers. Speaking about her marathon challenge she said: “My aim is to complete 100 marathons before age related problems and arthritis preclude my continuing to run.”
Hilary is already more than halfway there having completed her 54th marathon on Sunday 15th April 2018 at Boston Marathon UK. Her next marathon will be at Roche Abbey on Sunday 6th May.
Widowed in 2015, Hilary describes the support she has received from the running community as a “lifeline”. She loves the camaraderie of marathon running. She commented: “A marathon is a whole day out in company, with a social before and after. Plus, there’s always lots of hugs and encouragement.”
Hilary inspires other runners in her role as leader of the Absolute Beginners Group (ABG) at Horsforth Harriers. She helped to establish the group in 2011 and it continues successfully to date. The group gives non-runners the opportunity to learn to run at their own pace. It helps people of all ages and abilities to improve their body image, confidence, health and wellbeing, as well as gaining a personal sense of achievement. They meet like-minded people and new friendships form. Some members say it is life changing.
Hilary commented on her role as ABG leader: “I would say there is no better way to experience running than to join the ABG. I am always happy to see people achieving their full potential, knowing I have helped them along their way and provided the opportunity for them to progress further than they ever dreamed.”
You can do it Hils. Run Forrest run!
Main image credit: Telegraph & Argus